FTPs have always been a wonderful resource to find various types of files (documents, software, archived information, etc.), but even for as wonderful as FTP search engines are, they pale in comparison to Google as an FTP search engine. Unfortunately, there's no built-in search functionality in Google that allows you to filter results by FTP... but, lucky for you, I'm about to give you one of the most prized gems in my personal collection of advanced search queries: a way to search Google for only FTPs.
After many brainstorming sessions, I finally came up with the following deceptively-simple search query: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https)
[Related gallery: 10 Google search secrets]
Basically, what that tells Google is, "I want you to show me results that have "ftp" in the URL, but NOT "http" or "https"." The tricky thing about this search query -- and the reason it's truly deceptive in its simplicity -- is that the inurl:ftp bit is necessary to see the results we're looking for! Click here to see what happens if you just search for -inurl:(http|https). Now, you can add a search term after that and you will see results, but the query just doesn't quite work right, in that it still shows results with http or https in the URL. This brings us to our next point: how to actually make use of the whole ftp advanced query.
After (or before, if you so choose) inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https), add whatever you're interested in searching for! Here are 5 usage scenarios for you, just to give you some actionable examples:
1 - Search for a term you're interested in finding on FTPs: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https) "Microsoft Office"
2 - Search for everything Google has indexed from a particular site's FTP: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https) site:gowinnt.microsoft.com
3 - Search for FTPs from educational Web sites only: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https) site:edu
4 - Search for a specific file type on FTPs: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https) "Microsoft Office" filetype:pdf
5 - One fun search query to rule them all: inurl:ftp -inurl:(http|https) site:gov | site:mil filetype:pdf | filetype:ppt | filetype:doc "Top Secret" | "Classified Information"
So, as you can see, Google is filled to the brim with FTPs in its index, and, believe you me, there is a ridiculous amount of hidden gems amongst them -- depending on what you're searching for, of course. Hopefully, Google won't find a reason to tamper with the effectiveness of this particular search query (my one fear of making it public after finally figuring out how to do it), but if they do, I'll go ahead and share the following two FTP search engines with you (make sure your pop-up blockers are enabled): Napalm FTP Indexer and Mamont FTP Search Engine. They are hands-down my two favorite FTP search engines (next to Google, that is).
With that said, now it's time for you to get out there and be fruitful with your FTP search endeavors! And if the search queries above appear cryptic to you, then make sure you head on over to the first part of my search ninja series where I cover advanced operators in great detail!
Did this post help you find some interesting/juicy information/files? Do you have any of your own pointers or favorite sites for searching FTPs? Share your thoughts and/or experiences with us in the comments below!
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- Search ninja part 3: How to find unlisted YouTube videos with Google
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