What is an FTP server and What is it for?
, there are many types of servers. Our article is devoted to the consideration of one of the oldest, but at the same time the most useful and practical types of servers. In this publication, we will try to reveal all the most important and interesting points regarding the installation and preparation of an FTP server, the possibilities and types of connection to it and general interaction with it. Learn more at https://deltahost.com/ftp.html.
First, it is important to say that FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. Therefore, the server, based on the designated web protocol, is used to carry out the transfer of information via the World Wide Web or small area network.
So, let’s define the meaning of the term FTP-server. Let’s be very straightforward and say that an FTP server, like any other server, is a computer. This server is used to store and transport files. It can be part of a small network or be part of the entire Internet. Users can download information to or from a server by following the specific rules for remote access to that server.
FTP is not a new protocol at all, it was created back in 1971. Despite the fact that its main content and meaning have not changed since that time, its form has changed quite a lot. In particular, a special connection was created that transfers information. Also, a lot of commands have appeared that determine the order in which certain functions are performed. There were no such commands in the original versions of FTP.
Now let’s talk about the distinctive features of FTP servers, which are individual for them and allow them to be separated from others, for example, web servers.
- Each connection uses its own channel;
- FTP supports multiple orders of information distribution, such as binary or text.
- User authentication is required to use all features of the FTP server;
- FTP can determine the type of clusters depending on the need to transfer certain kinds of files.
At the same time, we note that FTP servers are not without drawbacks. So, they have a very weak system of protection against hacker attacks. But despite these shortcomings, FTP servers continue to be the most popular means for remote access and transfer of information.
What is the purpose of an FTP server?
Let’s take a closer look at the functions of FTP servers. As we noted above, the main task of such servers is the remote transmission of information data. At the same time, you can delete files from the FTP server, rename them, group files by creating new folders.
It is known that most often users resort to using an FTP server for the following purposes:
- Implementation of the transfer of personal information, for example, between loved ones, relatives, and so on. For this purpose, special home servers are created. They store personal information – musical compositions, photographic materials, documents and other files;
- The FTP server is convenient for use within companies, as it allows the exchange of corporate information, for example, within departments or other structural divisions of the enterprise;
- Also, the FTP server provides a convenience in requiring the transfer of the necessary clusters to the host.
Note that, of course, the above is far from a complete block of variations in the operation of an FTP server. Being a multifunctional place to store and forward various clusters, the FTP server is suitable when a quandary arises in a variety of possible situations, to cover all the nuances that the scope of this article does not allow.
Finishing the study of the distinctive features and characteristics, as well as general concepts regarding the subject of our consideration, let’s go directly to the methods on the basis of which its activities are implemented.
The mechanism of the FTP protocol
Let us consider in more detail the mechanism itself, which allows the FTP server to function normally and perform its tasks. The FTP protocol is a special Internet protocol that is used to transfer information clusters within the Internet or other small network. The key characteristic of this protocol is the creation of a multichannel connection. The first channel acts as a master channel – with its help, the server receives commands and responds with return commands. Such a channel most often uses port 21. The remaining channels serve the direct data transfer. They focus on the 20th port.
Before starting its work with the protocol, the user device starts a new session. In the future, during the entire action, such a session will be open, since the server “remembers” its status.
Separately, we note that the FTP protocol operates in two modes. Below we consider each of these modes, describe its characteristics and features.
- Active mode. In this mode, the user device initiates a master connection and then sends its IP address to the FTP server. Optionally, the user device forwards an optional port number. It will be used as a cluster receiver. The server later, when it receives data, starts a connection with the port and parameters that were specified by the user device. After that, the session is initiated, the direct process of data transfer begins.
- Passive mode. This mode is used when the client is behind a firewall and is unable to accept an incoming connection from the server. It is possible to resolve this situation by sending a PASV management command to the server. After receiving this command, the server sends its IP address and preferred port number to the user device. Now the user client, having the received data, generates a connection to the server. Finally, the connection period is initialized, the data transfer process is activated. Thus, the server begins to fulfill its obligations.
You can exchange data using various sets of rules, which also form certain modes of information transfer. Below we will present them all and give their characteristics, as well as describe important details that can help in the work.
- Stream mode. Data is received and transmitted in the form of a continuous stream, the FTP protocol does not process information. This is the standard mode, which transmits information as it was originally. This mode does not differ in any specific parameters.
- block mode. The FTP protocol divides the general data stream into various blocks, for example, by direct data, volume, content, name, and so on. Blocks are convenient, as they allow you to sort the content according to the required criterion and further group the files according to one or another parameter.
- Compression mode. Data is compressed using various devices immediately before the start of the information exchange process. This mode is convenient for sending, for example, a large amount of information that can be pre-compressed to save traffic or space on the media.
As we said in a few paragraphs above, a characteristic feature of an FTP server is the mandatory (actually not always, but more on that later) user identification. It happens by filling in the appropriate fields. The client sends the entered data to the FTP server, after which it checks these data. Then, in case of successful confirmation of identification, the server sends an invitation to the computer to join. However, despite the need for identification, it is possible to connect anonymously using certain methods, thanks to which the user does not need identification data and their transfer to the server.
FTP server installation
Having considered the mechanism for implementing the activities of an FTP server, let’s talk about the possibility of creating your own such server. It is quite possible to create an FTP server manually using certain programs. If the server is created at home or in a medium-sized company, then free programs can be used. For larger companies or firms, you can take advantage of special offers on the market of computer programs and services to create and adjust a powerful corporate server.
Speaking about the installation of an FTP server, it is worth dwelling on the following information separately. In Windows, directly from version 7, Microsoft has developed and implemented a new tool. Let’s make an important remark. In this article, we will focus on the consideration of this OS, we will not talk about Linux and MacOS OS. This tool is IIS – Internet Information Services, which is a collection of many different tools for interacting with web servers and other Internet applications.
This tool serves the task of creating a universal connection to certain data from the Internet. If the operating system implies the presence of IIS, then it becomes possible to organize an elementary FTP server inside Windows, without the need to use other programs and applications. Indeed, it is quite convenient to have your own personal server with the ability to store and forward clusters. In some cases, it can become simply indispensable, as it can be used as a backup storage for data.
Such a server can be adjusted in several ways, determine who will be allowed to connect to it and who will not, specify the necessary parameters for entering the server, requirements for its use, and much more. Read about all this further in our article. and who doesn’t, specify the necessary parameters for entering the server, the requirements for its use, and much more. Read about all this further in our article. and who doesn’t, specify the necessary parameters for entering the server, the requirements for its use, and much more. Read about all this further in our article.
Below we present a detailed algorithm of events, by following which you can organize an FTP server, excluding access to side devices and applications. We note right away that initially it seems to be rather confusing, but during practice you will see that there is really no difficulty in implementing a personal server, everything is quite linear and simple. So let’s start.
Initially, log into the control panel (PU) through the Start menu or using the Win + Q button combination, where you should write “control panel”. Many ordinary users, and not just programmers or webmasters, often have to deal with the PU when it becomes necessary to adjust the operation of a device, program, or in other situations. The new level will be the opening of the “Programs and Features” menu. This menu is a fairly well-known mechanism that users often resort to when they want to uninstall a particular program, especially one that cannot be uninstalled in any other way. However, in the context of our article, this information is purely secondary.
After completing this action, you will see “Turn Windows features on or off.” This parameter is used to activate and deactivate various components and other components within the system. We recommend that you take a responsible approach to the manipulations that you will do in this parameter, since its incorrect operation can harm the computer. In the called application, activate “IIS” and expand this list. We are moving forward in preparation for the organization of the server. Click on “FTP Server”. Symbolize the attributes “FTP Extensibility” and “FTP Service”, which will activate these components. However, the preparation procedure does not end there, we will need to activate a number of more tools and services for the subsequent proper functioning of our server. which you will do in this parameter, since its incorrect operation can harm the computer.
In the called application, activate “IIS” and expand this list. We are moving forward in preparation for the organization of the server. Click on “FTP Server”. Symbolize the attributes “FTP Extensibility” and “FTP Service”, which will activate these components. However, the preparation procedure does not end there, we will need to activate a number of more tools and services for the subsequent proper functioning of our server. which you will do in this parameter, since its incorrect operation can harm the computer. In the called application, activate “IIS” and expand this list.
We are moving forward in preparation for the organization of the server. Click on “FTP Server”. Symbolize the attributes “FTP Extensibility” and “FTP Service”, which will activate these components. However, the preparation procedure does not end there, we will need to activate a number of more tools and services for the subsequent proper functioning of our server. Symbolize the attributes “FTP Extensibility” and “FTP Service”, which will activate these components. However, the preparation procedure does not end there, we will need to activate a number of more tools and services for the subsequent proper functioning of our server. Symbolize the attributes “FTP Extensibility” and “FTP Service”, which will activate these components. However, the preparation procedure does not end there, we will need to activate a number of more tools and services for the subsequent proper functioning of our server.
Now make the changes by clicking “OK” in the main application. Next, wait for a while, as the OS is in the process of searching for and activating the necessary files. Provided that the entire application activation process went smoothly, without any errors or shortcomings, you can be glad – you get a complete personal FTP server on your own workspace.
FTP Server Adjustment
Having figured out how to create a server and having organized one, it is appropriate to have a conversation about the work of personalizing it, bearing in mind that simply creating a server is not enough for full use. You will also need to set it up, designate identification parameters, client rights values, general adjustment rules and other subtleties, the need for which is due to the requirement for competent operation of the server, as well as the individual wishes of the user. Below we will give the algorithm of operations required to carry out the adjustment of the FTP server. We will also consider the most popular and most important attributes that are responsible for the operation of the server.
So, let’s move on to the process of preparing to use your FTP server. To get started, repeat the steps to open the PU, as we described earlier. Inside the PU, find “Administration”. Make it open. Among other attributes, find the one you need – “IIS Manager”. Now open this item.
When you open this item, expand the list on the left, right-click on the “Sites” folder that appears. An additional menu will open. In it, click on the subsection “Add FTP site …”
It will not be superfluous to initially set the name of the previously launched FTP server and the exact address of the location of the folder with the necessary information. After completing the above steps, activate “Next”, and then proceed to the next step in adjusting the FTP server.
In the context of this stage, the most important thing is to set the values of the characteristics of the FTP server. Look at the area where you need to set the value of the IP address. Here you can put an IP address from the total number of addresses located in the list that the program will offer, that is, the device itself determines the list of available addresses without the need to create them separately for the user, which is very convenient and allows you to reduce preparation and configuration time.
It also requires a choice between two options that are responsible for certain security settings and provisions regarding the availability of your server. The first is to attach an FTP server to one specific IP address. The second is to enable user devices to use accessibility. In the second option, it is necessary to mark the item “All free”.
After completing the above steps, proceed to define the method for identifying incoming connections in the newly opened application. This is where “Authentication” is of particular interest. Here you need to make a choice between two options. The first is the standard use of the server, in which new clients are required to go through an identification process using the necessary values. The second allows absolutely any clients to connect to the server, including those that will not display their address and other identification data. A certain field is also located here, in which it is possible to select certain rights that server clients will have. After completing the adjustment, close the dialog box by clicking on the “Finish” symbol.
Let’s proceed to the next step in preparation for initializing the FTP server. In the further preparation process, we will need to adjust the OS firewall. We return to the PU and look for the “Firewall” icon. In it, we need a tab with additional parameters and a subsection with rules for incoming connections. Having found one, we launch the “FTP server” parameter.
Newly registered users will not be able to use your server just like that. Specify special appropriate access parameter values. What interests us here is “Administration” (we described how to get into it above), where there is a function for connecting devices. Open the “Computer Management” – “Local Users” option. You will see the “Groups” folder, when you click on it with RMB, an additional list will appear, in it click on the “Create group” item. Enter the name of the group and drive in a little information about it, then click “Create”.
Ready! Created own group where you can add clients. Right click on “Local Users” and then select “New User”. Enter the credentials of the new user. Now expand the Local Users folder and find the new user you created, then open Properties using RMB. Here you need “Group Membership”. Click “Add” and enter the name of the group you organized before. Complete the preparation by clicking OK. This completes the FTP server adjustment. In conclusion, it is necessary to indicate the possibilities of joining the newly organized server.
Connecting to an FTP server
Connecting to an FTP server is quite easy when using additional applications. For example, a good solution would be to use the well-known and popular Total Commander component. This program has all the essential features that will ensure efficient communication with FTP servers.
In the previously named program, you need to open the “Network”. In it, select the “Connect to FTP server” component. At the same time, to simplify the task, you can immediately use the key combination Ctrl + F.
Let’s imagine the following situation. You need to make an initial communication session with the server. Then activate the “Add” button. Then enter the values of the following parameters to be used in relation to the server and the connection to it:
- Server address;
- Connection name;
- identification data;
- Connection type. In this case, TLS stands for a secure connection using the secure FTPS protocol. In turn, SSL makes it possible to connect to the server of anonymous users.
If you need to be in the required folder immediately after the connection is made, without having to go all the way inside the server file system, then you can optionally fill in a special field.
In the event that you did not fill in the “password” field and left it without a value, then the program will constantly ask you for it when you make a connection to the server. While not entirely pleasant, it is very useful in terms of security. Let’s make a little clarification here. The fact is that by specifying the initial identification parameters while still setting up the connection, the program will save the entered values, but will not apply encryption. In addition, the information will be contained on a separate hard drive, and this, in turn, is fraught with security problems and some risks.
With the right settings, you can easily connect to an FTP server. When the connection becomes stable, you can move on to working with data that is located remotely. This concludes our article. We have reviewed the basic provisions on the nature, configuration and use of FTP servers. We hope that the material you read was useful and informative for you.