FileZilla, SFTP and Amazon EC2


I’ve just made a little discovery so thought I would note it in in these pages because I’m sure I’ll need it again.

I’m investigating Amazon’s EC2 at that moment and am trying to put some code up there and struggling to use FTP securely to do it. I use FileZilla on Ubuntu and it seems that FileZilla’s site manager wants me to enter a user name password combination to login to the EC2 instance. However in accordance with Amazon’s recommendations I’m running without user passwords but am instead using public key authentication. But there appears to be nowhere to specify the local private key file location in FileZilla’s Site Manager dialogue.

The answer is that hidden in FileZilla’s settings, Edit->Settings, under the Connection-SFTP setting is a dialogue that allows you to enter the location of the local keypair file. So I added my local key pair at which point FileZilla warned me that it needed to convert my .pem format to a .ppk format. I let it do this and specified the location and name of the converted file. Then, going back to the Site Manager, I set my Amazon host Login Type to Interactive and tried again and I was straight in. Interestingly I didn’t need to tie the Site Manager entry for my EC2 host to the keypair. Just adding the keypair to the general settings as described above did the trick. No messy passwords and no compromised security.

Danny Goodall

Posted in Tips and tagged , , , , , , , .


  1. If you’re wondering what user to use, it is “ec2-user” if you are using the standard centOS amis, but for the Ubuntu Server AMI’s it is “ubuntu

  2. Very Valuable! Thanks you so much for posting this, I have literally spent 5 hours trying to connect with filezilla to my ec2 server.

  3. Worked great! I wouldn’t have stumbled across this for a long time. Especially since, as you say, you don’t link that key to any particular target host. Thanks again. Clark

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