How to fix “Failed to retrieve directory listing” in FileZilla 3.10 with Bluehost

2018 update: change your connection protocol to SFTP – SSH File Transfer and it should work.

This post is 4+ years old and describes a very old problem yet it continues to draw visitors experiencing this problem (or similar). The method it describes is not secure by modern standards. You should update to the latest Filezilla and use SFTP.

Here’s a dumb thing I lost 2 hours on today: the new FileZilla (version 3.10) uses FTP over TLS by default, but not all hosts support this (like mine).

In my case, I was trying to log into my Bluehost account via FileZilla, which I hadn’t done in a month+ while I was moving and changing ISPs, so that made it even more difficult to narrow down the cause of this error.

Status: Resolving address of
Status: Connecting to 11.222.333.444:21...
Status: Connection established, waiting for welcome message...
Status: Initializing TLS...
Status: Verifying certificate...
Status: TLS connection established.
Status: Server does not support non-ASCII characters.
Status: Connected
Status: Retrieving directory listing...
Command: PWD
Response: 257 "/" is your current location
Command: TYPE I
Response: 200 TYPE is now 8-bit binary
Command: PASV
Response: 227 Entering Passive Mode (11,222,333,444,167,111)
Command: MLSD
Error: Connection timed out
Error: Failed to retrieve directory listing

By far the fastest, easiest fix is to uninstall FileZilla 3.10 and go back to an earlier version. I went back to FileZilla version 3.7.3 and I was finally able to get some work done.

It’s not a great long-term solution, but until hosts support TLS there isn’t much else to do (that I know of – leave a comment if you know better). In the meantime, here’s a Filezilla forum thread on the issue that affected users can follow.

Hope this helps someone!

59 thoughts on “How to fix “Failed to retrieve directory listing” in FileZilla 3.10 with Bluehost”

    1. Genius. This saved me so much time. Or at least stopped me from wasting further hours on a useless configuration effort.

  1. Another option that worked for me (because I’m lazy and didn’t want to reinstall) was to edit the site in Site Manager and then change the Encryption to “Use only plain FTP”.

    1. Works for FileZilla with OSX 10.10.4 on MacBook Pro (13-inch mid-2010).

      Thanks for saving me the couple of hours others have lost.

    2. Doesn’t work for me, Michael. :(
      It shows this message: “Error: The data connection could not be established: ENETUNREACH – Network unreachable”.

    3. Thanks so much for this, I only wasted 20 mins rather than 2 hours thanks to you taking the time to blog about it. Much appreciated.

      I went with Michael D’s solution because I couldn’t face uninstalling and re-installing either! Worked a treat.

      1. Only the obvious one: It’s less secure. If someone is sniffing traffic on your network, they will be able to see your password and the contents of the files you transfer whereas a TLS connection would leave these encrypted.

        Kudos for being the only person I’ve seen ask this here so far!

    4. This works for me. Got loads of sites that connects with the latest FileZilla, but one that will not. Changed its connection to “Use only plain FTP” and voila, back in business.

      Thanks for the great tip.

  2. Thanks a bunch! I have been sitting with this problem for 2 days, following all sorts of advice that messes with my Firewall and server and whatnot. I am literally sooooooo grateful for this advice that I feel like jumping through my own ceiling. Had to write an email to my host, apologizing for wasting their time by asking THEM to solve the problem for me. Stupid Filezilla, sheesh! I’m gonna have a coffee break now. Once again: THANK YOU SO MUCH!

  3. It’s not a great long-term solution, but until hosts support TLS there isn’t much else to do (that I know of – leave a comment if you know better). In the meantime, here’s a Filezilla forum thread on the issue that affected users can follow.home fixer

  4. I uninstall 3.14.1 and went clear back to 3.9.06 and I’m still getting the
    Directory Listing Failed, empty directory message. What’s left to try? Funny thing, I use FZ about every 2 to 3 days and have no problems at all with every update until this one a little while ago. Am trying to upload updates to my website. Anyone?

  5. I lost 1/2 hour before finding this site.

    I love the model of updating software to an unworkable state forcing users to downgrade to get working software.

    Dumber than my plumber.

  6. I cannot thank you enough for your solution. I have wasted so many hours that runs into days to find this fix. I read forums trying numerous blogs, read articles, watched videos. It’s your solution that worked.

    God bless you and yours from my heart!

  7. using plain ftp is not the solution for this, It makes your connection unsecure and your website might get hacked because of this

    1. Perfect! This worked. You’ll need access to your host server control panel to fix. Now I can use the newest version. Thanks. Been holding on to 3.10.3 for too long.

  8. Confirmed that activating SSH on my Bluehost account allowed me to sftp into my account without any errors. (Using Filezilla 3.32.0).

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