I have connected to my remote server via FTP and I got a directory listing. I have few zip files in the list.

Is it possible to unzip the file (Ex: test.zip)?. If yes, what is the command?


8 Answers 8


It is not possible to unzip files over an FTP connection. FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol", which was only designed to transfer and partly manage files on the remote end, but not to execute commands. To unpack an archive you'd have to execute a program like tar, bzip2 or similar, but that's not possible via a FTP connection.

You need another session which allows you to execute commands, like SSH. Or you unpack the archive on your machine and transfer the contents via FTP, which will be considerable slower if you have a large number of small files because of the overhead of FTP.

  • @Hearaman the command unzip.
    – Kruug
    May 6, 2013 at 17:55

Little bit out of context answer but surely works. If you are running a Apache + php on that ftp directory then upload your zip file in that folder and create extractor.php:

$zip = new ZipArchive;
if ($zip->open('my_zip.zip') === TRUE) {
    echo 'ok';

and then hit url eg: http://example.com/extractor.php bingo php will extract that zip for you.


You can do it if you mount ftp resource using curlftpfs:

curlftpfs ftp://ftp.server.org/ /path/to/mountpoint


unzip /path/to/mount/test.zip
  • 2
    If won't save you nothing of transfer, because the unzip process will be done by your computer and not on the server which should be the optimized way to do it.
    – NetVicious
    Oct 6, 2016 at 11:17


simple case - unzip test.zip


Is your goal to unzip it on the external server, or do you want to pull the archive contents to your own computer?

The first case is not solved by FTP, but by SSH or similar techniques as described in other answers.

If you just want to get the unzipped contents "directly" to your own computer without first explicitly transferring the files and then unzipping, you could e.g. mount the FTP site as a folder and unzip it as a normal zip file to a location on your local computer. This will in practice stream the file contents directly to the unzip program, so you technically do transfer the whole file, but only in its zipped state (presumably saving traffic) and the contents will appear directly on your local computer without the explicit intermediate step.

I don't know how the zip file format is specified concerning just unzipping a part of a zip file; if you need to transfer the whole file nevertheless or only the compressed part corresponding to that file. I don't see any real technical reasons as to why it wouldn't be possible to do this kind of selective transfer (the FTP protocol allows only transferring partial files to enable resuming).


You can use unzip after running sudo apt-get install unzip.

  • You can use it like "unzip filename.zip -d /destination"
    – fraabye
    Sep 26, 2012 at 6:50

As far as I know some FTP servers are set up to automatically unzip files on download. For example, the server lists a file named test.txt.gz, with your ftp client you can type get test.txt, the server then sends the file through unzip.

This is the answer that can be read right before download begins : 150 Opening ASCII mode data connection for /usr/bin/gzip.


you can use tar command

tar -xfz test.zip
  • 4
    To remember the letters: eXtract Zee Files Sep 26, 2012 at 7:01
  • invalid command is coming in my console.
    – Hearaman
    Sep 26, 2012 at 7:04
  • with -xzf instead of -xfz?
    – HaydnWVN
    Sep 26, 2012 at 7:37
  • (Requires root permision)install tar by sudo apt-get install tar Sep 26, 2012 at 11:24
  • 1
    This command works on the local terminal, but can NOT be run over an FTP connection (even when using the site FTP command) Feb 23, 2018 at 16:24

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