Configure FTP server with FileZilla in Windows 7

FTP means File Transfer ProtocolIf you want to know more about it, you can check it on Wikipedia. FTP is becoming less popular nowadays as users have many other protocols for exchanging files, P2P especially BT. FTP, however, continues to play a very important role.

Say you have a file of about 300MB and you would like to send it to your overseas friend right away. What would you do? Emails generally have an attachment limit (typically less than 300MB) and it will be extremely slow and unstable if you try to transfer through instant messaging software such as MSN. The best solution will be to set up your own FTP server at home and authorize your friend to download from your computer. Also note that you can set up an account so you can see all your files and take them wherever you go.

If you’ve already set up your remote desktop at home, you’ll probably leave the computer on 24/7 just so you can access it anytime you want. Or if you have a spare computer like mine, why don’t you try using it? I’m going to show you how you can turn your computer into an FTP server.

After trying a couple of FTP server software, the free FileZilla Server software became my choice.

OK lets start.

The first thing to do is install the package you just downloaded. (from the link above); installation is pretty straightforward and I’m not going to go into too much detail.

Upon successful installation, the FileZilla server will start and you should see the following interface:

Before we go ahead and configure the ports, we would like to add a user to make sure it works. We will choose between “Edit -> Users” (Or there is a shortcut icon just below “Edit” in the menu bar).

I created a user named “anonymous”, and I make sure the “Password” field is unchecked because I would like to make this as my public FTP account that visitors can download from my FTP server. If you want to set up other accounts, make sure your archived “Password” is checked to enforce a secure login. For different users, you can assign a different route, or you can simply create a group and assign the route to all members of that group.

On the left side, you will see the “Shared Folders”, you can specify the folder path that you would like to see in “anonymous”, as well as the permission that you would like to grant. Once done, click OK.

Note: The shared folder directories are the root folder that the selected user (in this case, it is “anonymous”) can see, but the folders contained in the root folders are also visible to this user.

The most common thing Windows users would probably miss when setting up FileZilla is the Firewall. During the installation, although you grant permission for the FileZilla server to access your computer’s resources, there is something that is not configured correctly.

Look for your firewall settings, you should be able to find that the FileZilla Server Interface could be on the allowed list; however, this is the problem. We should allow the FileZilla Server core instead of the interface. The interface is just the user interface for end users like you and me to access the main program. Then we click add to choose “FileZilla Server” from the installation folder:

Now it should be fine.

If you have two or more computers at home, you can take a test drive now. First find out your internal IP address. If you don’t know how to do it check out my previous post, set up your remote desktop. For example, I found that my server’s internal IP is 192.168.1.111, then on the other computer, I just type ftp://192.168.1.111.

Note: If you have a port other than port 21, let’s say you have port 22, you have to type ftp://192.168.1.111:22 if you don’t know what port it is, it’s actually in settings -> General settings: If it works for you, we’ll move on; otherwise, please re-read the instructions or ask me.

The FTP server is designed to go out on a network, if you just try to set it up at home, that’s it; but according to the situations that I presented in my first paragraphs, I want to make it global.

As a remote desktop, we will also need to configure port forwarding. In my case, since my FileZilla server is on port 21 of my computer, I will have to somehow forward the FTP request to this port. Ideally, it would be great if we could set port 21 as an external port because every time we type in the address, we don’t need to enter the port number (the browser’s default FTP port is port 21). However, most ISPs (Internet Service Provider), for example I use Telus, blocking port 21. We will need to find an alternative port as our external port:

I have set port 5050 as my external port and all FTP requests through this port will be redirected to port 21 on my server. I am using D-Link DIR-825, if you have a different router, please refer to the instructions in your manual.

If you configured your dynamic DNS, then you are done; otherwise, go back and read my post; it is extremely easy.

Let’s say you have your dynamic DNS name like myServerAtHome.no-ip.org, then when you’re outside just type ftp://myServerAtHome.no-ip.org:5050, but if you are at home, you can write ftp://192.168.1.111.

You can use your browsers to visit your FTP server, however, I recommend that you use FTP software. FileZilla Server is a great FTP server and it also has client software. You can check the FileZilla website; If you don’t have one, why not try FileZilla Client?

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