Microsoft FTP Publishing Service for IIS 7.0 for Windows Server 2008

Posted on January 8, 2009 by Daniel Petri in Windows Server 2008 with

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is an old and venerable protocol, especially useful for Internet publishing. It may seem that Microsoft has not done much work on providing a robust, secure FTP. But that’s all about to change. Microsoft has just created and released a new FTP service that has been completely rewritten for Windows Server 2008. This new FTP service incorporates many new features that enable web authors to publish content better than before, and offers web administrators more security and deployment options. Published on the IIS product team website HERE.

At first glance, the story for FTP and IIS 7.0 may seem a little confusing. In fact, there are two FTP servers available in Windows Server 2008.  One comes out of the box with either Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008, and now, we get the other as a download from the web. Why two FTP servers? Microsoft say that they ran out of time. The one that’s available with Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 is essentially the same FTP service from IIS 6.0. When you select the FTP service to install in IIS 7.0, you are actually setting up the previous IIS 6.0 Manager, in addition to the compatibility tools necessary to run it on Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 server.

Why bother downloading a different FTP server?  Well, mostly because it seems that the new FTP server’s features are compelling.  For instance, for shared hosting, it offers improvements to integrating FTP into your web site, virtual host name support and new user isolation features.  It offers support for Internet standards like IPv6, UTF8, and SSL.  And it fully integrates with IIS 7.0. This means you get a new user interface, the new XML-based configuration, and the extensibility improvements that all come built-in with IIS 7.0. This new FTP service is only for Windows Server 2008 and Internet Information Services 7.0. It will not work on Windows Server 2003 and Internet Information Services 6.0.

What are the Features of the new Windows Server 2008 FTP Publishing Server (IIS7)?

This new FTP service supports a wide range of features and improvements, and the following list contains several of the improvements in this version:

  • Integration with IIS 7.0: IIS 7.0 has a brand-new administration interface and configuration store, and the new FTP service is tightly integrated with this new design. The old IIS 6 metabase is gone, and a new configuration store that is based on the .NET XML-based *.config format has taken its place. In addition, IIS 7.0 has a new administration tool, and the new FTP server plugs seamlessly into that paradigm.

  • Support for new Internet standards: One of the most significant features in the new FTP server is support for FTP over SSL. The new FTP server also supports other Internet improvements such as UTF8 and IPv6.

  • Shared hosting improvements: By fully integrating into IIS 7.0, the new FTP server makes it possible to host FTP and Web content from the same site by simply adding an FTP binding to an existing Web site. In addition, the FTP server now has virtual host name support, making it possible to host multiple FTP sites on the same IP address. The new FTP server also has improved user isolation, now making it possible to isolate users through per-user virtual directories.

  • Extensibility and custom authentication: The new FTP server supports developer extensibility, making it possible for software vendors to write custom providers for FTP authentication. Microsoft is using this extensibility feature to implement two new methods for using non-Windows accounts for FTP authentication for IIS Managers and .NET Membership.

  • Improved logging support: FTP logging has been enhanced to include all FTP-related traffic, unique tracking for FTP sessions, FTP sub-statuses, additional detail fields in FTP logs, and much more.

  • New supportability features: IIS 7.0 has a new option to display detailed error messages for local users, and the FTP server supports this by providing detailed error responses when logging on locally to an FTP server. The FTP server also logs detailed information using Event Tracing for Windows (ETW), which provides additional detailed information for troubleshooting.

What are the Requirements for the new Windows 2008 Server FTP Server?

The following prerequisites must be fulfilled in order to install the new FTP server:

  • You must be using Windows Server 2008 Release Candidate 0 (RC0) or later. Internet Information Services 7.0 must be installed, and the administration tool should be installed if you are going to manage the FTP server using the IIS 7.0 user interface.

  • You must install the FTP server as an administrator. If User Access Control (UAC) is enabled, you must use the “Run as Administrator” option when installing.

  • IIS 7.0 supports a new shared configuration environment, which must be disabled on each server in a web farm before installing the new FTP server for each node.

  • Note: Shared configuration can be re-enabled after the FTP server had been installed.

  • The FTP server that is shipped on the Windows Server 2008 DVD must be uninstalled before installing the new FTP server.

There are a few features that the new FTP server don’t support. For example, there is no support for SFTP (FTP over SSH). You can’t delegate FTP configuration, like you can with many other IIS 7.0 features. And there is no support for Windows Server 2003 or earlier operating systems.

You can read the full documentation on the IIS product team website HERE.For more information on this topic, see Microsoft FTP Publishing Service for IIS 7.0 – RC0 – x86.