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This tutorial was last checked and updated on March 10, 2019.

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  1. If you havn't already done so, download the program "PuTTY".
  2. Connect to your root server or VPS/vServer via SSH using PuTTY. To do this, open PuTTY and enter the domain or IP address of your server in the text box named "Host Name (or IP address)". Then click the "OK" button below.
  3. Update your package lists with the command apt update.
  4. Now install any available updates of the packages already installed on your server using the command apt upgrade -y.
  5. Install the "ProFTPD" FTP Server and other required packages with the following command: apt install proftpd-basic -y
  6. Now create an configuration file in the directory "/etc/proftpd/conf.d/" by executing the command nano /etc/proftpd/conf.d/ftp.conf. The files in this directory won't be overwritten when you update the ProFTPD server.
  7. Add the following content to this configuration file and adjust it if necessary (for example, if you don't want to disable IPv6):
    # FTP users don't need a valid shell
    <Global>
        RequireValidShell off
    </Global>

    # Disable IPv6 (if wanted)
    UseIPv6 off

    # Set home directory as root directory for FTP users
    DefaultRoot ~ ftpuser

    # Allow login only for users of the group "ftpuser"
    <Limit LOGIN>
        DenyGroup !ftpuser
    </Limit>
  8. Save your changes to the configuration by pressing CTRL + X, then hit the "Y" key followed by enter.
  9. Restart the ProFTPD Server using the command systemctl restart proftpd.service to apply the configuration you just created.
  10. Without encryption, both the login data and the files themselves are transferred in plain text. Therefore you should use SSL/TLS. The required module for the ProFTPD server is already included and activated, but a configuration is still necessary. To do this, perform the following steps:
    1. You can use an existing certificate or create a self-signed one using the command openssl req -x509 -newkey rsa:2048 -keyout /etc/ssl/private/proftpd.key -out /etc/ssl/certs/proftpd.crt -nodes -days 1460. This certificate is stored under "/etc/ssl/certs/proftpd.crt" and the private key under "/etc/ssl/private/proftpd.key". If you create a self-signed certificate, some data will be requested. The only required field is the "Common Name". At this point, use the FQDN or hostname of your server. If you want to omit another field - for example the country code - just type a ".".
    2. Now create a configuration file for TLS by executing the command nano /etc/proftpd/conf.d/tls.conf.
    3. Add the following content to this configuration file and change the path to your SSL certificate if you want to use your own existing certificate:
      <IfModule mod_tls.c>
          TLSEngine on
          TLSLog /var/log/proftpd/tls.log
          TLSProtocol TLSv1.2
          TLSRSACertificateFile /etc/ssl/certs/proftpd.crt
          TLSRSACertificateKeyFile /etc/ssl/private/proftpd.key
          TLSVerifyClient off
          TLSRequired on
      </IfModule>
    4. Then restart the ProFTPD server using the command systemctl restart proftpd.service again, so that the TLS configuration is also applied.
  11. Now you have to create the group "ftpuser". You will later add all users to this group who are allowed to log in to the FTP server. Use the following command to create the group: addgroup ftpuser
  12. Next, you have to create the users who are allowed to log in to the FTP server. The command for this is: adduser example --shell /bin/false --home /var/www/example. Replace "example" with the desired username and "/var/www/example" with the home directory in which this user should have read and write access. This is also the user's FTP home directory.
  13. Set a secure password for the FTP user. There are no characters displayed during input, but this is normal. Confirm the password you set by pressing enter. You can skip all further information such as the name, telephone number, etc. by pressing enter as well.
  14. Finally, add the FTP user you just created to the group "ftpuser" so that this user can log in to the FTP server. Use the command adduser example ftpuser and replace "example" with the username you've chosen.
  15. Your FTP server is now ready to use. You can now connect to it using an FTP client such as FileZilla and log in with the users you previously created and added to the "ftpuser" group.