Configuring and using FTP with IIS 8 on Windows Server 2012 is very easy and straight forward. If you ever used FTP 7 that was released with Windows 2008 then the GUI will be familiar to you. An FTP virtual directory is quite handy when you need to provide an FTP user access to files which are not in their FTP root folder. If you’ve ever created one, then you know the FTP user is usually not able to physically “see” the virtual directory when they login. To get to the new folder they have to manually change the path using their FTP client. I will show you a simple trick so the virtual directory will be visible to the FTP user.
Open the IIS 8 Manger. Depending on your needs one can have FTP configured in a few different ways. Your server may have FTP publishing configured on each site for example. My test server only has 1 IP address available so I’ve configured a “master” FTP site and have FTP user access configured accordingly for each site that is being hosted. In this example I have “ftpuser2” logging into a folder called c:\domains\domain2.com. As one would expect this is the folder where the user can maintain all their web site files.
Probably one of the most common requests with web hosting is having access to the web site traffic logs. These logs are typically stored outside of the FTP path somewhere else on the web server. On my test server they’re stored in the folder C:\wwwlogs and the logs for domain2.com are located in the folder W3SVC3. Ordinarily on a locked down web server no FTP user would ever be able to access this location.
So let’s walk through how to provide “ftpuser2” FTP access to his site’s traffic logs. In the IIS Manger right-click on the FTP user in question and then right-click again on Add Virtual Directory.
This will open the Add Virtual Directory window. Enter the Alias you want to use and browse the physical path to which you want to provide FTP access.
One additional step is to add the FTP user to the folder permissions. That is straight forward so I’m not going to walk through that. So now ftpuser2 has the necessary permissions to read the log files in the W3SVC3 folder and access them using their FTP client. So what happens when we log in via FTP? Well nothing.
Why don’t we see our new virtual directory with the traffic logs? We can see them if we manually change the path in the FTP client to /wwwlogs. But having to manually change paths is a bit of a pain. And trying to explain that to someone who may not be technical is even more complicated. So what’s the solution?
The solution is to create an empty folder in the root of the FTP user’s FTP path that matches the alias of our FTP virtual directory. With this dummy folder in place, when the FTP user logs in and clicks it they will automatically be redirected into the path of the virtual directory and see all the files. What’s really cool about this technique is that works with legacy versions of IIS as well as IIS 7 and IIS 8.
So now we’ve created a far more intuitive experience for the FTP user to access files and folders outside of their FTP root anywhere on the server –provided they have permissions to access the folder of course. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walkthrough. Thanks for reading.