What is Wing FTP Server for? I stumbled upon this diamond in the rough last month and ended up falling in love with it. Let me describe what I was looking for, and you will soon understand why Wing FTP Server seems to be the only solution out there for me.
I wanted to access all of the files on my home computer remotely from wherever I happened to be. Everyone’s first thought for something like this would be Dropbox. Ok, sure. But Dropbox has a 2GB limit for free use, and I’m talking about many many more gigabytes than that. I have no desire to store my private content on cloud servers and pay them a monthly fee for it. So Dropbox and any similar services are out.
Next, I looked for, what else, ftp server software. The problem with ftp is that it’s a relatively unsecure and cumbersome format to use now. So I looked into the various other flavors of secure ftp options: ftps, sftp, ftp over this, ftp over that, etc. All the secure options are a pain to configure. There are limited choices for server software, and most of them are not free. But my main complaint with them is that configuring it is just too much work. I didn’t want to become an expert in server management just to do this.
Then I thought, wouldn’t it be great if a single server software could take care of ALL these protocols in a simple, easy way? This new search led me to the wonderful Wing FTP Server. I played around with it for a month, and now I’m convinced that this is the right solution for what I needed. Wing FTP covers all of the bases: ftp, secure ftp (all the variations), http (web access!), https, and even mobile (Android, iOS) support. What a lifesaver! The configuration is relatively simple. It’s all done through a graphical user interface. There’s no need to learn commands to type, or mess around with ini or txt files, etc. It’s all done with buttons, checkboxes, and other easy to use GUI elements. The main administration screen is shown below:
That is what I really appreciate about this program. They make it easy for the user. Not only do they offer the flexibility of all the protocols under the sun, but they have made it easy to use. Sure, even this easy interface takes some getting used, but remember that what the server is doing is fairly complex stuff (if you don’t believe me, just try to set up all those protocols using other software). You can search, but I already did and this is by far the best option out there right now.
Setting up the server is pretty easy once you figure out what you want to do. Wing FTP’s website has all the help documents there, and after going through them, I was pretty clear how to setup the program for my needs. There is some configuration that you will have to do regarding IP addresses, port forwarding, any kind of dyndns linking (or another dynamic dns management tool). Then you need to set up what Wing FTP calls “domains”. These are the actual servers that you are using, and you can have multiple domains. I only tried it with one. For me, it would be a pain to have multiple domains since I only have one ip address and one dyndns account. But the program supports many domains, which large businesses would probably find very handy.
The administration is done locally through a web-like console. This console can be accessed remotely also, using a browser. Again, it’s all very easy. You don’t need to go into configuration files or complicated sets of options at all.
Since the program offers several different protocols for connecting to your files, you may want to only use a select few of them. It’s very easy to turn the different protocols on or off. This is done through the “Listener” areas of the console, as shown below:
As a single user of this program, I have not covered the more advanced features. Wing FTP has many more corporate features such as fine-tuning user access control times, server logs and graphs, certificates, and so on. The features are all there, just check out the help documents on their website.
Setting up users is fantastically easy also. You just create usernames and passwords, then select which folders you want them access to, and you can control which Listener protocols they can access with. Read/Write access is easily accessible for each folder. You can control exactly what folders people will see, you can have folders in different physical locations to appear in the “root” directory of the user, you can give virtual names to the folders. You can pretty much do anything. You can see most of the user management options below:
I found that the protocol I ended up using most was the https one. It ended up being the most convenient for me. You just go on any browser and navigate through your files and folders using a simple web interface. This reminded me of the great, free program HFS, but more flexible and powerful. And being https, it is more secure than the regular http option. If you click on the thumbnail below, you can see how nice and easy the web client interface is:
Another awesome feature is that you can make any file publicly accessible by creating a web-link for it. And you can make the link expire in a set amount of time. I really enjoyed that feature.
As you can tell, I’m a big fan of this software now. Wing FTP Server really fills in this file accessibility niche quite nicely. With this software, you don’t need to turn server management into a big IT nightmare. The price of Wing FTP is probably out of the range for most casual home users. However, there doesn’t seem to be any other alternatives that can come close to what it can offer. For a business or those who can afford it, I don’t think you would regret it. Consider all the time it would take to configure all those protocols separately, and also take into account the amount of time saved for the users who use it to access their files remotely. Again, once your storage amount goes beyond what the free cloud services offer (usually around 2-5GB), the costs can pile up with “premium” service monthly bills. I give this software and the developers two enthusiastic thumbs up and welcome the new addition to my list of preferred software.