Setting up a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server on Windows 10 is perhaps one of the most convenient solutions to upload and download files from virtually anywhere to your computer without the limitations typically found with cloud storage services.

Using an FTP server, you're basically creating a private cloud that you have absolute control. You don't have monthly transfers caps and speeds can be fast (depending on your internet subscription).

Also, there not file type or size restrictions, which means that you can transfer a 1KB text file as well as 1TB backup file, and you can create as many accounts as you want to let family and friends store and share files with each other.

There are plenty third-party solutions to set up a file server of this kind, but even though it may sound complicated, the FTP feature bundled on Windows 10 isn't difficult to set up.

In this Windows 10 guide, we'll walk you through the steps to set up and manage an FTP server on your computer to transfer files within your home network or remotely over the internet.

How to install the FTP server components on Windows 10

Although Windows 10 includes support to set up an FTP server, you need to add the required components manually.

To install the FTP server components, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on Programs.
  3. Under "Programs and Features," click the Turn Windows features on or off link.

  4. Expand the "Internet Information Services" feature, and expand the FTP server option.
  5. Check the FTP Extensibility and FTP Service options.
  6. Check the Web Management Tools option with the default selections, but making sure that the IIS Management Console option is checked.

  7. Click the OK button.
  8. Click the Close button.

Once you've completed the steps, the components to set up an FTP server will be installed on your device.

How to configure an FTP server site on Windows 10

After installing the required components, you can proceed to configure an FTP server on the computer, which involves creating a new FTP site, setting up firewall rules, and allowing external connections.

Setting up an FTP site

To set up an FTP site, do the following:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Click on Administrative Tools.

  4. Double-click the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager shortcut.

  5. On the "Connections" pane, right-click Sites, and select the Add FTP Site option.

  6. In the FTP site name, type a short descriptive name for the server.
  7. In the "Content Directory" section, under "Physical path," click the button on the right to locate the folder you want to use to store your FTP files.

    Quick Tip: It's recommended to create a folder in the root of the main system drive, or on an entirely different hard drive. Otherwise, if you set the home folder in one of your default folders when adding multiple accounts, users won't have permission to access the folder. (You can adjust folder permissions, but it's not recommended.)

  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Use the default Binding settings selections.
  10. Check the Start FTP site automatically option.
  11. In the "SSL" section, check the No SSL option.

    Important: In a business environment or on an FTP server that will host sensitive data, it's best practice to configure the site to require SSL to prevent transmitting data in clear text.

  12. Click the Next button.
  13. In the "Authentication" section, check the Basic option.
  14. In the "Authorization" section, use the drop-down menu, and select Specified users option.
  15. Type the email address of your Windows 10 account or local account name to allow yourself access to the FTP server.
  16. Check the Read and Write options.

  17. Click the Finish button.

After completing the steps, the FTP site should now be operational on your computer.

Configuring firewall rules

If you're running the built-in firewall on Windows 10, connections to the FTP server will be blocked by default until you manually allow the service through, using these steps:

  1. Open Windows Defender Security Center.
  2. Click on Firewall & network protection.
  3. Click the Allow an app through firewall option.

  4. Click the Change settings button.
  5. Check the FTP Server option, as well as the options to allow Private and Public access.

Once you've completed the steps, the FTP server should now be accessible from the local network.

In the case that you're running third-party security software, make sure to check your vendor support website for more specific details on adding firewall rules.

Allowing external connections

To make your FTP server reachable from the internet, you also need to open the Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) port number 21 on your router.

The instructions to forward a port will be different depending on the router, and even depending on the firmware version. In the steps below, we'll outline the general steps, but you may need to consult your manufacturer support website for specific details.

To forward port 21 to allow FTP connections outside of the local network, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Network & Internet.
  3. Click on Status.
  4. Click the Change connections properties option.

  5. Make a note of the IPv4 DNS server address, which is the address of your router. Usually, it's private address in the 192.168.x.x range. For instance, 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.2.1.

  6. Open your default web browser.
  7. On the address bar enter the router's IP address (for example, 192.168.1.1) and press Enter.
  8. Sign-in with your router credentials.
  9. Open the Port Forwarding page. (Usually, these settings can be found under the WAN, NAT, or Advanced settings pages.)
  10. Add a new rule to forward incoming connections to the FTP server from the internet by including this information:

    • Service name: Type a descriptive name for the port forwarding rule.
    • Port range: 21.
    • Local IP: This is the FTP server IP address that the router will forward incoming connections. (This is your IPv4 address. See step No. 5.)
    • Local port: 21.
    • Protocol: TCP.
  11. Click the add button.

  12. Click the Apply button to save the changes.

After completing the steps, any incoming connection on port 21 will be forwarded to the FTP server to establish a networking session.

Setting up a static IP address

If you're planning to transfer files over the internet in the regular basis, then it's recommended to configure a static IP address to prevent having to reconfigure your router in the future if your device's IP changes.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on Network and Internet.
  3. Click on Network and Sharing Center.
  4. In the left pane, click the Change adapter settings option.

  5. Right-click the network adapter, and select the Properties option.

  6. Select the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) option.
  7. Click the Properties button.

  8. Select the Use the following IP address option.
  9. Specify the IP settings:

    • IP address: Specify a static network address for the computer. You should use an address outside of the DHCP server scope configured in your router to prevent conflicts. For instance, 192.168.1.200.
    • Subnet mask: In a home network, the address usually is 255.255.255.0.
    • Default gateway: This is usually the IP address of the router. For example, 192.168.1.1.
    • Preferred DNS server: Typically, this is also the IP address of your router.

  10. Click the OK button.
  11. Click the Close button.

Once you've completed the steps, the IP configuration will no longer change, and it'll prevent potential connection problems in the future.

How to set up multiple FTP accounts on Windows 10

If you want to allow multiple people to download and upload files to the FTP server simultaneously, you need to set up multiple accounts with specific permissions.

This process is done by creating new standard Windows 10 accounts and configuring the correct settings.

Creating new user accounts

To add multiple accounts to an FTP server, do the following:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Accounts.
  3. Click on Family & other people.
  4. Click the Add someone else to this PC button.

  5. Type the Microsoft account address for the user you want to allow access to the FTP server.

    Quick Tip: If you want users to access the server using local accounts, then click the I don't have this person sign-in information option, click the Add a user without a Microsoft account option, and follow the on-screen direction to create the account.

  6. Click the Next button.

Once you've completed the steps, you may need to repeat the steps to create additional accounts.

Configuring user accounts to FTP server

If you want multiple users to access the FTP server at the same time, you need to modify the server settings using these steps:

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click on System and Security.
  3. Click on Administrative Tools.

  4. Double-click the Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager shortcut.

  5. On the left pane, expand "Sites," and select the site you created earlier.
  6. Double-click the FTP Authorization Rules option.

  7. On the right pane, click the Add Allow Rule option.

  8. Select one of these two options:

    • All Users: Allows every user configured on your Windows 10 device to access the FTP server.
    • Specified users: You can use this option to specify all the users you want to access the FTP server. (You must separate each user using a comma.)
  9. Check the Read and Write options.

  10. Click the OK button.

After completing the steps, all the users you specified should now be able to access the FTP server to download and upload files remotely.

How to connect to an FTP server remotely on Windows 10

Once you've created and configured your FTP server, there are many ways to view, download, and upload files.

Viewing and downloading files

If you want to browse and download files, you can do this using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome:

  1. Open a web browser.
  2. In the address bar, type the server IP address using ftp://, and press Enter. For example, ftp://192.168.1.100.
  3. Type your account credentials.
  4. Click the Log on button.

After completing the steps, you should be able to navigate and download files and folders from the server.

In the case that you're trying to connect from the internet, you have to specify the public (internet) IP address of the network hosting the FTP server.

The easiest way to find out is to search for "What's my IP" in Google or Bing within the network before trying to connect from a remote connection. Also, unless you have an static IP address from your internet provider, or you're not using DDNS service, you may need to check your public IP regularly in order to connect, in case it changes.

Viewing, downloading, and uploading files

The easiest way to browse, download and upload files is to use File Explorer with these steps.

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. In the address bar, type the server address using ftp://, and press Enter. For example, ftp://192.168.1.100.
  3. Type your account credentials.
  4. Check the Save password option.

  5. Click the Log on button.

After completing the steps, you'll be able to browse folders and files, as well as download and upload files as if they're locally stored on your device.

You can avoid going through the steps to reconnect to the FTP server by right-clicking Quick Access in the left pane, and selecting the Pin current folder to Quick Access option.

Of course, you're not limited to use File Explorer as there are plenty of FTP clients, such as FileZilla that you can use to transfer files.

Wrapping things up

In this guide, we outlined the steps to get started with the FTP server feature available on Windows 10, and the steps to view, download, and upload files. However, bear in mind that you can only establish a connection as long as the device hosting the service is turned on. You won't be able to access your files when the computer is asleep or hibernating.

The FTP Server component is available on Windows 10 Pro as well as on Windows 10 Home, and older versions of the OS, including Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources: