Monday, April 12, 2010

Surfing the software goldmine hidden in plain sight. FTP.

I was attempting to find some older, legacy (unsupported), software for a network product on D-Link’s website today only to hit nothing but roadblocks. D-Link removed old versions of their software and decided not to leave any trace of it on the product support site. I needed the software in image order to connect to set up a device but now there is no trace of it. What am I to do? It is a good thing that I pay attention to the details. When I hovered the mouse over one of the PDF product sheet downloads I noticed in the navigation bar at the bottom of the screen that the file is hosted via their public FTP site (file transfer protocol). That got me thinking, what else is hosted in FTP? Are they hiding anything? This is where things got interesting. I fired up my Filezilla FTP client and connected to and behold! I was connected to D-Link’s data warehouse emporium! Every product whitesheet, every version of firmware for every single one of their products, every software version for every D-Link product ever made was just sitting there sorted into easy to navigate and easy to find folders. I was able to find the missing software and set up the D-Link device without a hassle. After I was done with that, my spider-sense started to tingle again and I asked myself, “So, what other FTP goldmines are out there?”

FTP is one of the most common file distribution platforms in use today. When you go to a manufacturer’s website to download a device driver, chances are you are downloading the file from their FTP server. If you are a little curious or in the mood to find out what is available, install a free FTP client such as Filezilla and connect to an FTP server and start surfing the site. Here are a few to try out:

Search around and you will find more. Happy FTP site hunting!