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!