File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a network protocol used to transfer data from one host to another. It’s typically used in a client-server environment, such as when uploading site content to a web server.
The protocol itself predates TCP/IP and has seen amendments throughout the years to add extensions for securing login credentials and adoption into IPv6. FTP is found in many different configurations -- from computers and mobile devices to productivity and web design applications. Because of its ubiquity, FTP is still in use today and included by OS X Server as a means of transferring data.
Let’s take a closer look at FTP on OS X Server.
Configuring the FTP service
Follow these steps to set up the FTP service on your OS X Server:
- Launch Server.app from the Applications folder and select the server you wish to manage.
- Login with Administrative credentials.
- Click FTP from the Services pane (Figure A).
- OS X Server allows for only one directory to be
selected as the FTP share. By default, this share is the Websites Root folder.
However, it can be changed to either an existing share or a new folder by
selecting Custom from the drop-down menu (Figure
- A new Finder window will open to select the path
to the desired folder share. Click Choose
to make your selection (Figure C).
- Once the location has changed next to Share, the
permissions for user accounts will appear and may be modified as needed under Access (Figure D).
- After reviewing the changes, click the slider
from Off to On to start the service.
- The user account cannot be a service account
- A home directory must exist for the account
- Administrator accounts cannot use FTP
For information on using FTP through Terminal.app, check out the Apple KB article with helpful commands and arguments to assist in transferring data to and from clients and servers.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 15 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.