DIY: Set up a FileZilla server on Windows 7

FileZilla is a great DIY FTP server, particularly for a Windows machine. Follow these installation and configuration instructions for FileZilla.

An FTP server is too insecure for many instances, but when you need something fast, it can save time, effort, and blank disks. FTP servers shouldn't require a server operating system or have costs associated with the simple, common service.

A free and easy way to set up an FTP server on a Windows 7 machine is to use the FileZilla server. This server solution is such a breeze to install and use that anyone can do it. Don't believe me? I'll show you in this tutorial.

FileZilla's features

  • Easy to use
  • Supports FTP, FTP over SSL/TLS (FTPS), and SSH File Transfer Protocol (SFTP)
  • Cross-platform. It runs on Windows (XP/Vista/7), Linux, *BSD, Mac OS X, and more
  • IPv6 support
  • Available in many languages
  • Supports resume and transfer of large files >4 GB
  • Tabbed user interface
  • Powerful Site Manager and transfer queue
  • Bookmarks
  • Drag & drop support
  • Configurable transfer speed limits
  • Filename filters
  • Directory comparison
  • Network configuration wizard
  • Remote file editing
  • Keep-alive
  • HTTP/1.1, SOCKS5, and FTP-Proxy support
  • Logging to file
  • Synchronized directory browsing
  • Remote file search

Installing FileZilla on Windows 7

Step one: Download the installation file. Step two: Start the installation and then double click the downloaded installer file. This will start the installation process. Step three: Figure A shows the available components for FileZilla. Select the components that need to be installed and click Next. Figure A

You can even add the FileZilla source code to the installation.
Step four: Set up whether you want FileZilla to start up manually or at boot (Figure B). If FileZilla will be used occasionally, I suggest a manual start. You can stop and start the server when you want, but every time the machine reboots, FileZilla will start (unless it is set up for manual start at installation). You can also configure the port FileZilla will use. Make sure this port is open for external access before continuing to the next step. Figure B

Choose carefully -- this setting cannot be changed without a re-install.
Step five: Even though the server is running, unless the server interface is running, the server can only be stopped and started from the Windows Services window. In this step, you can configure how the server interface is started (Figure C). I highly recommend sticking with the default; otherwise, you'll be starting the interface manually every time you log in. (The server interface will appear as an icon in the system tray.) Figure C

Select how the server interface is started.
Once this is completed, the FileZilla main window will appear (Figure D). Now you're ready to configure FileZilla. Figure D

This window also serves as your log window. (Click the image to enlarge.)

Configuring FileZilla on Windows 7

Step one: Set up FileZilla to add a user by going to Edit | Users and clicking the Add button in the new window (it's under the Users window on the right side) (Figure E). Figure E

Each user will be created without a password by default.
Step two: After giving the user a name, make sure you check the box for Password and then enter a password (Figure F). If you skip this step, the user will be set up with a blank password, which is not acceptable security. Figure F

From the General "tab" setting a password for a user is as simple as selecting the user, checking the Password box, and entering a password.
Step three: Click the Shared folders entry (left nav) and then add a folder for the user. Make sure both file and directory permissions are set up correctly. You can enable/disable the following permissions:


  • Read
  • Write
  • Delete
  • Append


  • Create
  • Delete
  • List
  • Create Sub directories
Step four: Click OK. Now the user can log in from a remote machine. Any files/sub-folders in the user's directory (or directories) will be available. The user can then log in to the FTP server with the username/password you set up for that individual.

Security reminder

FileZilla makes for a great DIY FTP server for a Windows machine -- as long as you use caution when it comes to security. Don't keep this baby wide open, and make sure to password protect user accounts.