unfortunately using the bare-bone command line shell ftp which comes with linux/unix and  without any scripting or some special command line utility
you wont be able to directly download a directory from a server

the problem is the sometimes you don’t have access to tar at the server and neither can you install any other shell ftp program of your liking to download files recursively

however, most of the times you would have access to wget and wget can come in very handy for downloading any directory recursively

here is the command

wget -r ftp://bobuser:bobpassword@yourhost.com/httpdocs/*

the above mentioned will download the folder httpdocs and everything under it to your server and will save you the trouble of downloading to laptop and than re-uploading to other server


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