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Automate file transfers (or synchronization) to FTP server or SFTP server


This guide contains a simplified description of automating operations on FTP/SFTP server with WinSCP. You may want to see detailed documentation of the scripting functionality instead.

WinSCP offers scripting interface that you can use to automate many operations that it supports, including file transfers, synchronization and other operations.

There is also WinSCP .NET assembly built on top of the scripting interface. If you plan to call WinSCP from your .NET code or PowerShell, or if your task requires conditional processing, loops or other control structures, you should better use the .NET assembly. This guide focuses on simple automation tasks using scripting interface only.

Before Starting

Before starting you should:


To automate operation, you need to find out commands necessary to implement it. For simple operations you need at least to:

For example a typical script to upload a file is:

# Connect to SFTP server using a password
open s -hostkey="ssh-rsa 2048 xxxxxxxxxxx...="
# Upload file
put d:\examplefile.txt /home/user/
# Exit WinSCP

Script file

Assemble the commands into a script file. You can name the script file as you like. See simple example and some useful scripts.

Use the /script command line option to pass the script to the WinSCP executable. Generally, you should also use /ini=nul switch to isolate the script execution from GUI configuration. You can embed the complete command line into a Windows batch file (.bat), like as follows:

@echo off /ini=nul /script=myscript.txt


Generating script

You can have WinSCP generate a script template for you or even a complete batch file.

To generate a script for a file transfer:

Using script

Now to make using script easier/automatic you can:

  • Make shortcut to it on desktop to ease execution. Either make shortcut to batch file (.bat) or enter full command line to shortcut itself.1
  • If the wrapping batch file takes filename as command line parameter (see below) you can:
    • Make shortcut to it on desktop and use it by dropping files on the icon. Windows automatically run the batch file and passes path to dropped file as command-line parameter.
    • In a similar way you can put the shortcut to the batch file into Explorer’s ‘Send To’ context menu (C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Windows\SendTo in Windows Vista and newer).
  • Schedule automatic execution.


When connecting to SSH host, you will need to accept its host key.

When connecting to FTPS or WebDAVS host with certificate signed by untrusted authority you will need to verify the certificate.

Modifying the script automatically

You may want to modify the script automatically. For example you may want to operate it with different file each time.

For tasks involving more complex modifications, conditional processing, loops or other control structures, you should better use the WinSCP .NET assembly.

For simple modifications, you can pass the variable parts of the script from command line:

open mysession
put %1%

Execute the above script using syntax: /ini=nul /script=script.tmp /parameter // c:\myfile.txt

You can also use environment variables in the script.

Alternatively, you can generate new script file each time. To automate that, make a wrapper script file. For simple tasks you can use built-in Windows scripting functionality from batch file (.bat). For complex tasks, you will need to use some scripting language, such JScript or VBScript from Windows script host or PHP or Perl.

Following example shows batch file that takes filename on command line and generates WinSCP script file to upload that file to remote server:

rem Generate temporary script to upload %1
echo open mysession >> script.tmp
echo put %1 >> script.tmp
echo exit >> script.tmp
rem Execute script /ini=nul /script=script.tmp
rem Delete temporary script
del script.tmp

Now you can run the batch file like (supposing you have saved it to file upload.bat):

upload.bat c:\myfile.txt

See more hints on using parametrized batch file.

See guide to advanced scripting for examples of script generation using more powerful languages.


Checking script results

To check results of the script you can:

  • Check exit code of WinSCP (exit code is the only relevant and reliable way to check if script completed successfully). See example below and FAQ.
  • Save and inspect log file. XML log format is recommended. Use command-line parameter /xmllog.
  • Save and inspect output of the script. Use output redirection.

Once you find out what was the result of the script, you can perform any action you like. E.g. after evaluating exit code of WinSCP, you can send a “success” or “error” email. For that use any command-line email client you like, e.g. sendmail.2

You should also make the batch file indicate a result in its exit code, particularly if it is called from some parent system (for example SSIS).

See an example batch file: /ini=nul /script=example.txt
if %ERRORLEVEL% neq 0 goto error
echo Success
sendmail.exe -t < success_mail.txt
exit /b 0
echo Error!
sendmail.exe -t < error_mail.txt
exit /b 1

A similar error handling is used in the batch file template that WinSCP can generate for you.

Where for example content of success_mail.txt may be:

Subject: Success

The files were uploaded successfully.

If you require checking results of each command individually, you should better use the WinSCP .NET assembly. Alternatively, see guide to advanced scripting for examples of checking script results (including XML log parsing) using more powerful languages and guide to interpreting XML log for advanced scripting using C# language.


See example in scripting documentation.


Further reading

  1. Note that it is not possible to use (.com files in general) directly from a shortcut. Call from a batch file or use winscp.exe with /console command-line parameter.Back
  2. When installing sendmail, you can ignore all references to /usr/lib/ (or c:\usr\lib) directories in its installation instructions, as you will be running sendmail.exe directly from a Windows batch file. Just place sendmail files to any convenient location, e.g. along with WinSCP.Back

Last modified: by martin