Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We have an FTP site with a single username/password that we provide to people as they need it. We are unable to create a new username/password for every person that might need to access the site, but it cannot be open to anyone.

What we want to do is password protect file folders on the site. We would create a new folder, add data to it, password protect the folder, and notify the person that their data is ready for pick up, providing them with the password. They would then go to the site using our username/password, see the appropriate folder with their name on it, and be prompted for a password when they try to open it. Then, they will use the password we provide to them to open the folder and download the data, and we would delete the folder within an appropriate amount of time.

We looked at "folder lock", but it is used on PCs, not servers, and it requires that the user downloading the data have the software as well.

Does anyone know how we could accomplish this or something similar?

share|improve this question
Server OS? Which FTP server? – Richard Sep 8 '09 at 17:29
Server OS is Windows 2003. I don't know about the FTP Server because I'm not actually the network administrator and don't have access to it except via software like CoreFTP. But see below - we found a solution that works great! – user17286 Sep 8 '09 at 17:54
up vote 4 down vote accepted

You can't do it natively. Have you considered using WinZip (or a similar program) to create password protected zip files instead of trying to use password protected folders?

share|improve this answer
this is perfect - someone here thought of it, too. We can use the Windows Zip utility (don't even need WinZip) and then add a password. I was concerned about Mac users, but I tested it out and while the GUI didn't work, unzipping via the command prompt did. So this solution is perfect. Thanks!! – user17286 Sep 8 '09 at 17:53
More than glad to help. – joeqwerty Sep 8 '09 at 17:54

I agree - I don't know of any way to do it through FTP. Some other options that I have used in the past to share files:

  1. Use LogMeIn file sharing feature. Here you can create a link to a file on your computer and send it out for someone to download with a time limit and download limit.alt text.

  2. Use a service like You can password protect it, set it to expire after a certain date/timeframe. Downside is that it is only free up to 100MB

  3. Setup an .htaccess file pointing to a .htpasswd file for basic web authentication to allow access to specific directories/files. Not FTP access like you were looking for, but sounds most like you were explaining.

share|improve this answer
that's a neat idea - I'll look into these. Joequerty's solution will work for us fine, but these ideas look like they could be useful, too. – user17286 Sep 8 '09 at 17:56

I can't think of anyway FTP could do this. IF you turned this into a web site, you might be able to program something like this. Otherwise, I agree with joeqwerty - use a password on a compressed file. Or consider switching FTP hosts to one that allows you to create separate accounts for each user (ouch... that must be a nightmare if the password gets out - you'd have to change it and notify everyone... I would STRONGLY recommend you switch to a system that allows individual accounts).

share|improve this answer
the system would allow individual accounts - the business process doesn't. We have hundreds of people who might be provided with data - some are repeat, some are one time only. And we would keep our network guys hopping with creating a new account every time! It's not impossible - just impractical. – user17286 Sep 8 '09 at 17:58

FTP is simply the wrong protocol for this. FTP is horribly insecure; it sends passwords over the Internet unencrypted.

What you really want is some sort of web-based system where the users can go to your server, enter their user name and password, then have access to their file(s). I did a quick Google search (keywords: "file download web page") and found a program for Windows that seems to do what you want, for $50. I have never used this but you might want to check it out.

You could probably make a workable system using SSH, if you don't want to try the above. SSH can be used to transfer files; see the scp command. You will need to create a user on your server for each user who needs a different password for downloading files. Then just put the files in the respective users' My Documents folder and they can download using scp.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.