What Is File Transfer Protocol (FTP)? 

What Is File Transfer Protocol (FTP)? 



When the internet was invented in the 80s, little did people know that it would take the form and shape that it has taken today, post 2020. In addition to the transitions that have undergone into the FTP over a period, it is worth mentioning that the FTP was perceived only as protocol to transfer files and not to provide security of files. Today FTP clients are used to upload, download, manage files on a server as well as securing them.  

Unknowingly, a lot of individuals have utilised FTP in the past as we mentioned above. FTP is utilised if you have ever downloaded a file from a website. The first step was to log in, which can be done manually by entering your password and username or automatically. Then, you must need a certain port number to reach an FTP server to use FTP. You may now transmit files after your FTP client has granted you access to the FTP server. Some public FTP servers allow you to access them anonymously, thus not all of them require you to log in. This makes the FTP server an important component in the internet ecosystem.  

To make you understand these components, we will lay emphasis on what is an FTP (file transfer protocol) and how to set up an FTP server in this article. So, if you are interested in knowing more, please keep reading.  


Types of FTP 


FTPs come in a variety of forms, such as password-protected and anonymous. Data may be sent anonymously and without the need for encryption or a password. This is advantageous for unrestricted file distribution. 

In the meanwhile, files are accessed via password-protected FTP, which requires a login and password. Implicit transport layer security (TLS) is made possible by FTP secure (FTPS), which provides enhanced security during transfers. Explicit TLS is another feature that FTP may use to upgrade the connection to an encrypted connection for increased security. 

One of the several protocols that control how computers and computing systems operate on the Internet is the file transfer protocol. Other examples of these protocols are as follows: 


The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) was created to send information across the internet4. 

Email or message boards can be accessed using Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), which is a shared service.5. 

Computer clock timings are synchronised via a network using the Network Time Protocol (NTP)6. 

File transmission via the Internet is made possible by FTP. It is therefore a vital tool for everyone creating and managing a website nowadays. 


Uses and Advantages of FTP 


Data management via the Internet became significantly simpler and more user-friendly with FTP. We wouldn’t be able to exchange data, play online games, stream video, conduct video chats, or take advantage of cloud storage without File Transfer Protocol (FTP) and its subsequent versions. 

These days, FTP runs in the background, providing millions of clients with data transfers from servers all over the world every second of the day. 


What is an FTP server?  


As we have read above, to send files from a PC to a web server using FTP, website owners utilise an FTP client. An FTP client application on your computer allows you to connect to remote servers via FTP and other protocols. An FTP client allows you to see and manage data kept on your web server, as well as upload and download files to and from a server. 

An FTP server is a component that allows this exchange of files over the internet. As its nae stands, the job of the server is to facilitate and serve the function of exchanging and downloading of files. This, a file transfer protocol (FTP) server is an essential component of the FTP architecture that streamlines the process of exchanging files over the internet. Typically, the data are uploaded to the server from a personal computer or other detachable hard drives (such a USB flash drive), and then the FTP protocol is used to transport the data from the server to a client located at a remote location. 

In order to function properly, a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server must be connected to a TCP/IP network and must rely on dedicated servers that have one or more FTP clients. To ensure that connections may be established from clients at any time, an FTP server is often turned on and operational around the clock on a continuous basis. 

The term “FTP server” is frequently used interchangeably with “FTP site” and “FTP host.” 


How to setup and FTP server? 


Now that you have understood the importance of the FTP server, we would like to add and tell you how to set it up for your perusal.  




FTP may be used in a few different secure file transmission ways. Verify that the following techniques are supported by both your FTP server and clients: 

FTPS is another name for FTP Secure. extends Transport Layer Security (TLS) to the FTP protocol. 

Often referred to as SFTP, SSH File Transfer Protocol should not be confused with the insecure Simple FTP. This is a file-transfer protocol extension for Secure Shell (SSH)*. Many FTP servers also accept SFTP, even though it is not a component of the FTP protocol. 

Tunnelling the FTP protocol over SSH is known as FTP over SSH. 

Modern web browsers do longer support the FTP protocol, mostly due to security concerns. Instead, they use the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Fortunately, HTTPS, the secure online protocol that all browsers utilise, is supported by certain FTP servers. 

Certain FTP servers incorporate additional security measures directly into the server software. Older FTP servers performed operations that might have exposed security flaws by using the host operating system. Some contemporary FTP servers circumvent this by putting in place their own, safer procedures for carrying out the same functions. 


2.Network and Computer


To install, configure, and manage your FTP server, you’ll need a user account with administrator or root capabilities on the machine hosting it. 

Verify that the FTP server software you select is compatible with the operating system on your host machine. There is FTP server software available for Windows, macOS, Linux, and almost any other operating system that can connect to the internet, so this shouldn’t be an issue. 

Additionally, confirm that the computer’s disc space is sufficient to hold the files you and your distant partners will be downloading and uploading. 

Your network may be set up to prevent FTP due to security concerns. Discuss opening the following ports in your firewall with the network administrator of your IT team or your internet provider: 


  • The insecure FTP protocol uses ports 20 and 21 by default 
  • The ports for the secured connections must also be opened if you use a secured FTP protocol, which you should. FTP using SSH, for instance, utilises the SSH port—22 by default 


For further information, see the documentation for your FTP server and speak with your network administrator. 

Upgrade your server machine or network connection if your FTP server will be serving many customers. Although FTP server software is built to withstand hundreds or even thousands of clients, your network and the server itself still have an impact on the server’s real performance. 


3.FTP Server in the Cloud


Establishing an FTP server in the cloud is an option if you don’t want to invest the time and funds necessary to buy and maintain a physical computer. A virtual computer, data storage, and a well-established network connection are required for your cloud setup. Even more, some cloud providers demonstrate. 


4.Input Device


When installing, setting, and managing software, do you feel more at ease using a graphical interface or the command line? 

For Windows server FTP setup, the FileZilla project, for instance, features an FTP server with a graphical user interface. Additionally, its literature explains how to configure a Windows FTP server. 

Installing and Configuring the FTP Server FTP server software is simple to install. Simply download and execute the installer or package. The majority of setting options concern user security and file transmission. 


a. Configuring User Accounts and Permissions


An FTP server allows a user to acquire, insert, rename, and delete files and folders on the server’s host computer. You may safeguard your computer from malicious or unintentional file actions by limiting who can access the FTP server. You should also select who has access to obtain, put, and do other operations. 

You might be able to make user authentication easier. Account directory services such as Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) are supported by some FTP servers. 

Turn off “anonymous” logins for further protection. An anonymous customer is not required to enter a username or password. 


b. FTP Server Security


Applying the most recent operating system updates will improve the security of the machine that will host the FTP server. 

You may also need to install and configure the security software that is associated with your FTP server. When utilising FTPS or HTTPS, for example, you may need to configure TLS and security certificates. 


c. FTP Server Troubleshooting


Install the FTP client programme you’ll be using on your own computer to test your server. Because you will be accessing the FTP server remotely, utilise a client that is not on the server’s network. This manner, you can ensure that your configuration modifications are valid and that FTP traffic is permitted on your network. 


Setting up the FTP: How to set up a Windows 10 FTP server site 


Installing the necessary parts will allow you to create an FTP server on the computer. This includes enabling external connections, setting up firewall rules, and establishing a new FTP site. If you are getting yourself a Windows Hosting plan from a reliable provider, you can follow the below steps in a bid to set up an FTP server for Windows.   


Establishing an FTP site


Follow these steps to set up an FTP site: 


1.Control Panel: Open 

2.Select Security and System 

3.On Administrative Tools, click 

a) Click and hold the shortcut for the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager twice.

b) Right-click Sites in the “Connections” box and choose Add FTP Site.

c) Enter a brief, informative server name in the FTP site name.


To find the folder you wish to use to store your FTP files, click the button on the right under “Physical path” in the “Content Directory” section. Quick Tip: It is advised to create a folder on a separate hard drive or in the root of the primary system disc. Otherwise, users won’t be able to access the folder if you place the home folder in one of your default directories when establishing multiple accounts. (You may change the permissions of a folder, but it’s not advised.) 


  • Select the “Next” option 
  • Make use of the Binding settings that are default 
  • Verify the option to “Start FTP site automatically.” 


Select the “No SSL” option located in the “SSL” section.  


Important: It’s best practise to configure the site to need SSL in order to prevent transferring data in clear text while working in a business setting or on an FTP server that will host sensitive material. 


  • Select the “Next” option 
  • Select the Basic option located in the “Authentication” section 
  • Use the drop-down menu in the “Authorization” section to choose Specified users 


To gain access to the FTP server, enter the email address associated with your Windows 10 account or the name of your local account. 


  • Look at the alternatives for Read and Write 
  • Hit the “Finish” option 
  • Once you’ve finished the procedures, your computer should be able to access the FTP site 


Setting up firewall rules


If you use Windows 10’s built-in firewall, access to the FTP server will be automatically denied until you take the following manual actions to manually permit the service through: 


  • Launch the Security Centre of Windows Defender 
  • Select Network Protection & Firewall 
  • Select the option to “Allow an app through firewall.” 
  • To change the settings, click the button 
  • Verify the Private and Public access choices, as well as the FTP Server option 


After completing the instructions, the local network should be able to access the FTP server. 

If you’re using third-party security software, be sure to visit the support page of your vendor for more detailed instructions on how to create firewall rules. 


Permitting connections from outside


You must furthermore open your router’s Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) port number 21 in order to provide internet access to your FTP server. 

Depending on the router and even the firmware version, there will be variations in the instructions for forwarding a port. We’ve outlined the broad processes in the steps below, but for particular instructions, you might need to visit the manufacturer support page. 

Follow these steps to forward port 21 so that FTP connections from outside the local network are possible: 


  • Go to Settings 
  • On Network & Internet, press click 
  • Select Status 
  • Select the option to “Change connections properties 


(Note the IPv4 DNS server address, which is your router’s address. It is often a private address in the range of 192.168.x.x. or, for example.) 


1.Launch your preferred web browser. 

2.Enter the IP address of the router (for instance, in the address bar and hit Enter. 

3.Enter your router’s credentials to log in. 

4.Access the page for port forwarding. (These options are often located under the Advanced, WAN, or NAT settings pages.) 

5.Create a new rule with the following details to send incoming connections from the internet to the FTP server: 


  • Enter a meaningful name for the port forwarding rule as the service name. 
  • Range of port: 21. 
  • Local IP: The router will send inbound connections to this FTP server IP address. Your IPv4 address is this. Refer to Step No. 5 
  • Port local: 21. 
  • TCP protocol.

6.Select the “Add” option

To save the modifications, click the Apply button. Any incoming connection on port 21 will be sent to the FTP server to start a networking session after the procedures have been completed. 


Final Thoughts 


The File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is the oldest file transfer protocol that is still in use, which gives it several advantages. However, this history brings with it challenges for the administration, security, and installation of the system. This can be discussed on another day on a different article, but in the meantime, you can read a bit about different types of web hosting security here.  

With this article, we hope that it answered what is FTP and how to setup the FTP server to your satisfaction.  

BigRock is a reliable domain, web security and web hosting provider that offers 99.9% uptime, 24/7 support, high scalability and performance. In case you have any doubts, queries or feedback for this article, please share them in the comments section below.