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Posted 4 Oct 2000

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Perl Script for Uploading Modified Files to an FTP-Server

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4.82/5 (11 votes)
5 Nov 2000CPOL
Simple Perl Script that uses a local MS-Access database to store modification dates of files and uploads modified files to an FTP-Server


(This article assumes that you are familiar with Perl and ADO.)

When uploading files from a local PC to a remote FTP-server, I ran into the problem of having to upload a lot of files, where only a few actually changed.

So I decided to compare the timestamps of the local files with those of the remote files. Theoretically, a file needs to be uploaded only if:

  1. the local modification date is newer than the remote modification date, or
  2. the remote file doesn't exist at all

In practice, the problem is that the FTP-Server has another timebase (e.g., its clock is some seconds ahead or behind the local clock), so the comparison could fail.

Upload Algorithm

The solution presented in this article handles this by storing the modification dates of the files to upload in a local database and does the comparison with these timestamps.

In a nutshell, the "algorithm" works, for each file to upload, like this:

  • Does an entry for the file exist in the database?
  • If no, upload it, create new recordset for this file, storing its path and modification date.
  • If yes, compare the actual modification date of the file with the stored modification date in the database.
  • If actual modification date is newer than the stored one, upload the file, store its modification date in the database.
  • If actual modification date is older than the stored one, do nothing.

As a drawback, the very first time the script is started, the database is empty, and therefore it once uploads all files, even if they would already exist on the remote FTP-server.

Starting from the second time, the script is executed, it works as described above.

Script Installation

You must have installed the Windows version of Perl from ActiveState. I always use the latest version, which is ActivePerl 5.6 as of writing this article. 

In addition, I'm using some modules that are not in the standard distribution of Perl. These modules can be obtained from CPAN at

The following extra modules need to be installed:

Each module contains a readme file which explains how to install.

Script Configuration

When Perl and all modules are installed, you need to configure the script.

The following values must be configured:

Value Description Example
$ftp_server The address (IP or name) of the remote FTP-server ""
$ftp_dir The subdirectory on the remote FTP-server. Use no slash at the end "/download/files"
$ftp_uid The username (user-ID) of the account to log on to the FTP-server "chris"
$ftp_pw The password of the account to log on to the FTP-server "maunder"
@src_dir An array of directories to upload. Each given directory is recursively processed (i.e., subdirectories are processed, too). ("c:\mywebsite")
@wc_exclude An array of substring to match to exclude files or directories. For each found file (i.e., its complete path), a substring-match is executed, and then only if no item is found, this file or directory is processed.  ("_vti",".mdb","\\bak","\\data","")
$db_connstr The ADO connection string to connect to the database. You can use here any valid expression, e.g., an OLE-DB string or an ODBC string. "Provider=Microsoft.Jet.OLEDB.4.0;Persist Security Info=False;Data Source=\\\\thisismyserver\\dir\\dir\\dir\\upload.mdb"
$db_uid The username of the account to connect to the database. Usually this field is empty.  ""
$db_pw The password of the account to connect to the database. Usually this field is empty. ""

Script Execution

When you configured everything, simple execute the script by double-clicking it in the explorer or by typing "perl" at the command prompt.

The script writes output to stdout, as well as to a logfile called "upload.log".


If you have any suggestions, found errors or want to comment on that article or script, please write a comment to at the end of this article and I will answer it.

Please keep in mind that I'm doing Perl for only a few months right now. So there are probably a lot of "no really beautiful" code-fragments in my script. So if you have any constructive comments regarding my coding style or the way I use Perl, please tell me!


This article, along with any associated source code and files, is licensed under The Code Project Open License (CPOL)


About the Author

Uwe Keim
Chief Technology Officer Zeta Producer Desktop CMS
Germany Germany
Uwe does programming since 1989 with experiences in Assembler, C++, MFC and lots of web- and database stuff and now uses ASP.NET and C# extensively, too. He has also teached programming to students at the local university.

In his free time, he does climbing, running and mountain biking. Recently he became a father of a cute boy.

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Comments and Discussions

GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
arif111114213-Jan-13 10:48
Memberarif111114213-Jan-13 10:48 
QuestionPerl Script for downloading added/modified files from the FTP server Pin
geeks831-Dec-12 6:40
Membergeeks831-Dec-12 6:40 
GeneralMy vote of 5 Pin
Maverick14310-Jun-12 23:03
MemberMaverick14310-Jun-12 23:03 
GeneralHi Pin
vinodh61917-Sep-10 9:03
Membervinodh61917-Sep-10 9:03 
Generalthxxxx Pin
jadoohere8-Jul-06 2:17
Memberjadoohere8-Jul-06 2:17 
GeneralFTP get file in ASCII using ActivePerl (v5.8) Pin
22-Dec-04 15:21
suss22-Dec-04 15:21 
GeneralA bit over the top Pin
Jon Hulatt17-Oct-01 6:12
MemberJon Hulatt17-Oct-01 6:12 
GeneralRe: A bit over the top Pin
not your Perl17-Jun-03 7:36
sussnot your Perl17-Jun-03 7:36 
GeneralRe: A bit over the top Pin
Uwe Keim17-Jun-03 19:17
sitebuilderUwe Keim17-Jun-03 19:17 
GeneralPotential problem with modification times Pin
Jonathan Gilligan7-Nov-00 21:26
MemberJonathan Gilligan7-Nov-00 21:26 
QuestionWhy not just compute the time difference? Pin
7-Nov-00 8:10
suss7-Nov-00 8:10 
AnswerRe: Why not just compute the time difference? Pin
Uwe Keim7-Nov-00 19:37
sitebuilderUwe Keim7-Nov-00 19:37 

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