9 Best Free FTP Server Software

The best free FTP server software for Windows, Mac, and Linux

An FTP server is necessary in order to share files using the File Transfer Protocol. An FTP server is what an FTP client connects to for file transfers.

There are lots of FTP servers available but many of them are only usable at a cost. Below is a list of the very best freeware FTP server programs that run on Windows, macOS, and Linux - you can download and use them to share files as often as you like without paying a dime.

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zFTPServer has an amazing user interface since the management controls run in your web browser. Just install the server and log in with the admin password through the web link you're given.

Every window you open through the management console can be dragged around on the screen and used simultaneously, much like if it were running on your desktop.

You can enable FTP, SFTP, TFTP, and/or HTTP access, as well as watch server activity live, set up automatic server updates, throttle connection speed, ban IP addresses, and generate random passwords for users.

Below are some more options and features you can use with zFTPServer:

  • Timeout after so-many seconds
  • Speed schedules that apply only to certain days of the week or times of the day
  • Case sensitive username
  • IP-based connection control
  • Windows authentication integration
  • WebDAV
  • Users can be given admin privileges
  • Disallow new connections but keep existing ones
  • Per-user restrictions and options like account expiration, bandwidth control, concurrent login limit, protocol access, denied login, Windows login, storage limits, event and stat information, and more
  • Specific settings for the log file

Download zFTPServer

The free edition of zFTPServer is only free for private, non-commercial use. All of the same features enabled in paid versions are available in the free one except that only a maximum of three connections can be made to your server at once. More »

FileZilla Server is an open source and completely free server application for Windows. It can administer a local server as well as a remote FTP server.

You can choose which ports the program should listen on, how many users can be connected to your server at once, the number of CPU threads the server can utilize, and timeout settings for connections, transfers, and logins.

Some other features in FileZilla Server include:

  • Passive mode FTP
  • The ability to adjust the transfer and socket buffer size
  • Logging to a custom LOG file
  • Bandwidth control to limit bandwidth usage
  • File transfer compression with per-IP address compression exclusions

Some security features include auto-banning an IP address if it fails to successfully login after so-many attempts, an option to enable FTP over TLS with the ability to disallow unencrypted FTP, and IP filtering so that you can prevent certain IP addresses or even IP address ranges from connecting to your FTP server.

It's also really easy to take your server offline or quickly lock the FTP server with one click, to ensure that no new connections to your server can be made until you unlock it.

You also have full access to the creation of users and groups with FileZilla Server, which means you can throttle bandwidth for some users and not others and provide select users with permissions like read/write, but others with only read access, etc.

Download FileZilla Server

The FileZilla Server FAQ page on their official website is the best place for answers and help if you need it. More »

Xlight is a free FTP server that's a lot more modern looking than FileZilla's and also includes tons of settings that you can modify to your liking.

After you create a virtual server, just double-click it to open its settings, where you can modify the server port and IP address, enable security features, control bandwidth usage for the whole server, define how many users can be on your server, and set an explicit maximum login count from the same IP address.

An interesting feature in Xlight is that you can set the maximum idle time for users so that they'll get kicked out if they aren't actually communicating with the server.

Here are some other unique features you can toy with that aren't found with FileZilla Server and other servers:

  • Server banner message
  • Email notifications
  • Execute a program after a user logs in
  • Execute a program when a file is uploaded, downloaded, or deleted
  • Auto-delete partially uploaded files
  • Upload SFV check
  • Send deleted files to the Recycle Bin
  • Access control list for directories and files
  • Anti-leech protection

The Xlight FTP Server can use SSL and can require clients to use a certificate. It also supports ODBC, Active Directory, and LDAP authentication.

Download Xlight FTP Server

Xlight is free for personal use only and works with Windows, both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

You can download this FTP server as a portable program so that it doesn't need to be installed, or you can install it to your computer like a regular application. More »

Complete FTP is another free Windows FTP server that supports both FTP and FTPS.

This program has a full graphical user interface and is really easy to use. The interface itself is pretty bare but all the settings are hidden away in the side menu and are simple to access.

One thing unique about this FTP server is that after changing one or more settings, they aren't applied to the server until you click the APPLY CHANGES button.

Here are some things you can do with Complete FTP:

  • Enable/disable FTP and/or FTPS
  • Enable anonymous logins
  • Choose how many anonymous users can log in at the same time
  • Show hidden files and folders
  • Allow backslash separators
  • Adjust timeout settings for logging in, stalled transfers, passive FTP, and idle sessions
  • Define how many login attempts can be performed before the user is kicked off
  • Enter a custom welcome message
  • A whole "Monitoring" section of the server lets you watch real-time logging, configure the log file, watch connections as they happen, and ban users

Download Complete FTP

Step-by-step guides are built-in to the Complete FTP install, so you can click Step-by-step guides at the top of the program at any time to learn how to use the different features and options.

This program installs as a trial of the professional edition. See the instructions on the download page to learn how to activate the free edition of Complete FTP (all the features above are in the free version). More »

Core FTP Server is an FTP server for Windows that comes in two versions.

One is a very minimal server that's simple to understand and easy to set up in about a minute. It's 100% portable and just has you choose a username, password, port, and root path. There are a few other settings as well if you want to configure them.

The other version of Core FTP Server is the full-fledged server where you can define the domain name, have it auto-start as a service, add multiple user accounts with detailed access permissions and restrictions, designate access rules, etc.

Download Core FTP Server

On the download page, choose one of the upper links to get the full program; the portable, minimal FTP server is available toward the bottom of that page.

Both versions of this FTP server come as 32-bit and 64-bit versions for Windows.  More »

War FTP Daemon was a really popular FTP server program for Windows after its 1996 release, but since then has been overtaken by newer and better applications like the ones above.

This FTP server still has an old look and feel to it but it's definitely still usable as a free FTP server and lets you do things like add users with special permissions, run the server as a service, write events to a log, and adjust dozens of advanced server properties.

Download War FTP Daemon

To get this server to run, you must first run the server file and then open the War FTP Daemon Manager to administer to it to add users, adjust server settings, etc.

Both the server and the manager are portable, so neither are actually installed to the computer. More »

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vsftpd is a Linux FTP server that claims security, performance, and stability are its core selling points. In fact, this program is the default FTP server used in Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, and other similar OSs.

vsftpd lets you create users, throttle bandwidth, and encrypt connections over SSL. It also supports per-user configurations, per-source IP limits, per-source IP address configurations, and IPv6.

Download vsftpd

Check out the vsftpd manual if you need help using this server. More »

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proFTPD is a good option for Linux users if you're looking for an FTP server with a GUI so that it's easier to use than messing around with command line commands.

The only catch is that after installing proFTPD, you must also install the gadmin GUI tool and connect it to the server.

Here are some features you get with proFTPD: IPv6 support, module support, logging, hidden directories and files, can be used as a standalone server, and per-directory configurations.

Download proFTPD

proFTPD works with macOS, FreeBSD, Linux, Solaris, Cygwin, IRIX, OpenBSD, and other platforms. More »

This Windows FTP server is very lightweight, completely portable, and can get up and running in mere seconds. Just unzip the program from the download and click Start.

The only downfall with this program is that any settings adjustments you want to make have to be done through the RebexTinySftpServer.exe.config text file.

This CONFIG file is how you change the username and password, set the root directory, change the FTP port, auto-start a program when the server starts, and adjust security settings.

Download Rebex Tiny SFTP Server

After extracting the contents of the ZIP file you download through the link above, use the "RebexTinySftpServer.exe" file to open the program. More »

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