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Creating Your Own FTP Server on Windows XP Professional

written by: Berry van der Linden•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 3/20/2015

Ever questioned how files are shared over a network? It is done with File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Let’s find out how you can set up your own FTP Server on a Windows XP system for sharing files with others.

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    What Is FTP (File Transfer Protocol)?

    FTP stands for “File Transfer Protocol.” FTP is, without doubt, the most secure method to exchange files and folders between computers Microsoft Windows XP on the Internet and over LAN. It basically works the same way as HTTP does with bringing us web pages from a web server.

    We often access shared files on the Internet and we share our own files, too, with others. Attaching a file with a hotmail message is an example of file uploading through FTP. What if you have a lot of files and/or directories to share with other people - how would you do it? Some may use Remote Desktop Connection applications, but these give very slow performance and are less secure. This is where FTP comes into play. Using FTP is an easy and speedy method to share your files over the Internet.

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    Setting Up File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Server

    The first thing that needs to be done when setting up an FTP server is to install it on your system as it is not installed on Windows by default.

    We can install FTP server from the “Add or Remove Programs” area in the Control Panel. There is an item called “Internet information services (IIS)”, select this and click details. From the items listed, we only need (a) “Common files”, (b) “Internet Information Services Snap-in”, and (c) “File transfer protocol (FTP) service”. Select these, insert the Windows XP CD and click OK. FTP will be installed now on your PC from the Windows CD. Now we have the necessary application, and we're ready to work with the FTP server.

    • It is important that a limited, password protected user exists on Windows who can logon to the FTP server.
    • If you use a router, make sure its firewall is set to let all FTP traffic through. This can be done from router's administration menu.
    • If you have the Windows XP firewall enabled or use a third-party firewall, you will need to open port 21 (usually it is open by default) to allow users to connect to the server.

    When FTP has been installed, it must also be ensured that the FTP service is actually working. To check this, go to Services – Press Win Key + R together, type in “services.msc”, and then click OK. This will bring up all of the service panels, where you can locate the FTP service and start it.

    Now your FTP server has been setup completely and you can share files with others.

    To test your FTP server, create a text file in the FTP Server’s default folder for keeping your files – “C:\Inetpub\ftproot” and type in some text in the file.

    Simply access this file from your internet browser by typing ftp://xyz.xyz.xyz.xyz/yourFile.txt in the URL where "xyz.xyz.xyz.xyz" is the IP address of your computer.

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    FTP Logs and Troubleshooting:

    All FTP service logs are stored in “C:\WINDOWS\system32\Logfiles\MSFTPSVC1”.

    Logs contain all the transactions which occurred during the transfer of data, and they show standard codes on separate lines for easy reading. Any sort of FTP problem can be identified from the logs by reading the codes, which will assist you in troubleshooting any problem that may occur. Click here for FTP codes.

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    Granting Rights to Users

    User rights can be changed easily by going to the Control Panel and selecting the "Administrative Tools" icon. After doing so, select "Information Internet Services (IIS)". On the left-hand side of the window, you will see your computer. Expand it, then right-click on the folder called "FTP Sites" and then choose "Properties." From there, you can now grant server access or specific rights to whomever you want.

    Tip: For privacy reasons, don't put data on your FTP site that you would not want seen by the general public.

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    Recommendations

    Certainly, FTP is the simplest, although not the most secure, way to share files with others on a computer network. Windows XP FTP Server is easy to use, and you can let your friends access your files or directories straight from their Internet browsers.

    There are better options for a more secure FTP server using Core FTPs SFTP server for instance.