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Get IT Done: Set up an FTP server with Windows NT using IIS 4.0

Stretch your NT servers life by giving it new responsibilities

Windows NT Server 4.0 natively includes Internet Information Server (IIS), but the most popular version of IIS running on NT 4 is IIS 4, which is installed as part of the Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack. Along with its other functions, IIS 4 lets you create a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server. As you’re probably aware, FTP is useful for uploading and downloading files between computers. With IIS 4, you can host multiple FTP sites, and each FTP site can host more than one domain. This article will discuss how to install, configure, and publish information to a Windows NT 4 FTP site running on IIS 4.

To access IIS 4, click Start | Programs | Windows NT 4.0 Option Pack | Microsoft Internet Information Server | Internet Services Manager (see Figure A).

Figure A
The IIS configuration console


Creating your FTP site
IIS provides a wizard you can use to create an FTP site. Just follow these steps:
  1. Open Internet Services Manager.
  2. Expand your server name.
  3. Right-click on Default FTP Site and select New | Site.
  4. Enter a description for the site.
  5. Select the IP address for the site (Figure B).
  6. Enter the path to your home directory where your FTP files will be stored (Figure C).
  7. Select Read, Write, or both permissions to your FTP site.
  8. Click Finish.

Figure B
Designating site IP address and port


Figure C
Setting the root directory for FTP files


Testing your FTP site
Believe it or not, that’s all there is to setting up a basic FTP site with Windows 2000. Now it’s time to test the site. First, place a couple of files in the folder you designated as the root directory for FTP. To test your FTP site from a command prompt:
  1. Open a command prompt.
  2. Type ftp localhost.
  3. Type anonymous for the user.
  4. Type your e-mail address for the password or simply leave it blank (see Figure D).

Figure D
Testing your FTP site from the command prompt


To test your FTP site from a Web browser:
  1. Open Internet Explorer.
  2. Type ftp://localhost (see Figure E).

Figure E
Testing your FTP site from a Web browser


Configuring your FTP site
Once you create and test your FTP site, you can customize it to meet the needs of your company. You can create a description for the site, edit the IP address, and change the port number, if applicable. You can also limit the number of people who access the site, in addition to creating security parameters.

To create an FTP welcome message:
  1. Open the IIS console.
  2. Expand your FTP site.
  3. Right-click on your FTP site and choose Properties.
  4. Select the Messages tab and type your Welcome and/or Exit message (see Figure F).

Figure F
Setting the messages for your FTP site


The rest of the tabs in the Properties dialog box allow you to change other aspects of your FTP site. You’ll definitely want to think about your security settings. When setting up FTP security, most people use anonymous access. With anonymous access, the IUSR_COMPUTERNAME account is automatically assigned to guests to gain access to the FTP site. To access the site, an e-mail address is the only piece of information that is needed.

If you have sensitive files, you may want to configure FTP to use valid Windows NT domain accounts instead. However, one of the pitfalls of FTP authentication is that usernames and passwords are transmitted as clear text. Thus, anyone with a packet sniffer can trap your user information and try to use it to compromise your network.

When configuring your FTP site, you can also:
  • Log all FTP connections.
  • Configure NTFS permissions on files. (This is useful on an intranet.)
  • Deny or grant users or IP addresses access.

To configure FTP connection limits:
  1. Open Internet Services Manager.
  2. Right-click on your FTP site and choose Properties (see Figure F again).
  3. In the FTP Site tab, select Limited To and enter the number of connections you want to allow.

To view FTP sessions:
  1. Open Internet Services Manager.
  2. Right-click on your FTP site and choose Properties.
  3. Click on the FTP Site tab.
  4. Select the Current Sessions check box (see Figure G).

Figure G
Viewing current users of your FTP server


Setting up security
After creating a folder structure in your FTP root directory (also known as Home Directory), you can then assign your permissions to those folders. Right-click on each folder you have created, select Properties, and assign the appropriate NTFS permissions. You can also view the FTP permissions you have chosen by accessing the Home Directory tab of the Properties dialog box of your FTP site in the IIS console (see Figure H). Read access allows users to download files, and Write access allows users to upload files.

Figure H
Access settings on the Home Directory tab


Summary
There are many ways to configure your FTP site, allowing you to accommodate your organization’s requirements. We've examined what an FTP site does and explained how to create and configure a basic FTP site with IIS 4 in Windows NT.
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