Upload Craft CMS with SFTP

Are you more "web designer" and less a "web developer"? Learn how to upload Craft in a classical way using SFTP.

This legacy guide here follows the easiest path to get Craft up and running on fortrabbit. We also have a more advanced workflow to deploy Craft with Git.

Get ready

In any case, you should have local development environment and Craft installed and configured; also see our get ready guide.

Upload Craft with SFTP

This workflow is simple and common. Everybody and his dog knows how to use SFTP. Check the downloading an archive file manually workflow from the official Craft docs as your detailed reference.

On the fortrabbit side: Just grab your personal SFTP login credentials from the Dashboard. Use any SFTP client. Upload all contents of your local Craft folder into the htdocs folder of your fortrabbit App. And you are good to go.


Doesn't work as expected? Keep calm and read on:

Connection error

Got an error while connecting with SFTP? Doing this for the first time on fortrabbit? Please see the access troubleshooting and SFTP guides to get started and all set up.

File permissions

You might need to change file permissions. See here for more.

Hidden .htaccess file

Don't forget to upload the hidden web/.htaccess file. This file is required. You cannot see that file in your Desktop, unless you set the option to show hidden files. The file browser from your SFTP client most likely will show that file by default. Leave the other hidden .env file — which is only for your local development — at home.

Service unavailable error

If you don't follow our suggestion to have a local development environment and just upload the latest .zip package from Craft via SFTP, it will not work out of the box and will throw a service unavailable error. Within the logs you can see that the error was caused in line 515 in Application.php. If you look at the lines before in that file you can see that a condition for the installer to run is that it has to be in "dev" mode.

To fix that: Change the ENV var in the Dashboard from: CRAFT_ENVIRONMENT=production to CRAFT_ENVIRONMENT=dev

Run the installer like so (the base URL will still throw an error):

You can then change the ENV variable back to production. We actually assume that the Craft you have on fortrabbit is the production version, and that all development is done locally. Please read our guides!


A downside of the SFTP workflow is that you have to keep both of your Craft environments in sync manually. Our manage assets with rsync is optional but still helpful for SFTP users.

Next steps

Your Craft fortrabbit App should already connect to the fortrabbit database, thanks to the Software Preset. Next, configure Craft to complete your setup.

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