Six reasons not to run your own ftp server

Bandwidth (Speed)

If you're looking at FTP, you're doing it to move files around. You might be a studio or agency moving masters or artwork, or a utility company moving thousands of customer transaction files. Except for very few exceptions, broadband in the UK has limited upload speed.

BT Infinity, the fastest commonly available fibre-optic broadband, allows you to upload at 20Mbit/s on their fastest tier, which is advertised as "up to 76Mbit" broadband.

Virgin Media offer their super-fast broadband at "up to 120Mbit", but on that package, only give you an upload speed of 10Mbit/s.

If you need to send a 30 minute 1080p AVCHD video to three people you're collaborating with, it will take more than an hour and three quarters, with your collaborators seeing download speeds between 20Mbit and 6Mbit (at the most, see #2).

If you upload that clip to iWeb FTP, once it's up, they can download at the full speed of their broadband - for a Virgin Media user they can download the clip in 6 minutes!

With your own FTP server, your bandwidth gets used up for every copy of a file downloaded- with iWeb FTP it's only uploading the file the first time that does.

Bandwidth (Your colleagues)

Point #1 paints a grim picture, but the reality is much worse. You'll only achieve those 6-20Mbit speeds for your customers if your staff aren't using the connection for anything else.

Sending email with attachments, browsing the web, Skype and any software hosted in the cloud will affect the speeds too. And just as importantly, people downloading from your FTP will affect those activities too.

If you're running an FTP on your own broadband and someone decides to download a large file from you while someone else in the business is trying to use VoIP, such as Skype, the call quality will suffer dramatically. It all leads to unhappy customers.

Network Security

The very nature of running your own FTP server means that you're making a service available to the public Internet. The files you're putting on the FTP are valuable to your business, so you've taken on the role of securing them too.

You'll need to configure and keep access logs for an audit trail. You'll want to put measures in place to stop brute force attacks (where people try whole dictionaries of passwords to try and guess one which will let them in).

You need to keep on top of security advisories and be ready to patch your server when new exploits are found. Errors like this ProFTPd exploit, which allowed a remote user to execute their own code on the exploited machine, or this Microsoft IIS vulnerability that allowed the same thing to happen. This exploit against Filezilla, too.

It's not possible to pick a piece of software with no flaws, so you need to be ready to patch these vulnerabilities the day they're released, or deal with compromised machines, viruses and destroyed or leaked data.

Physical Security

The Internet is a scary place, and the threats in #3 are real, but often overlooked is the physical security of your servers. As recently as March 2013, video streaming service Vudu reported the theft of hard drives containing customer data.

These hard drives contained customer data including names, email addresses, mailing addresses, account activity, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords.

You'll want to keep your servers safe from theft, and accidental or malicious damage. Or you could host with iWeb FTP- our servers are in a steel cage, in a building with 24-hour security, CCTV, coded card access and a halon fire suppression system.


As the guys who run the best FTP hosting in the UK, we know how unhappy people can get if they can't access their files. In our last unscheduled outage, in July 2011, we had customers tell us that their workflows ground to a halt.

It was an incredibly unpleasant situation for us and for them, but we invested over a dozen man-months in building out and improving our FTP platform to avoid the points of failure that had caused the outage, adding redundant storage, databases and FTP servers, additional Internet connections and improving our support response.

We've spent the last two years (on top of our seven years of experience operating online storage services) making sure when your customers or suppliers need your files, they can get them.


If you've read all of the above, you'll know that every single point can be overcome. You can install leased-lines, manage your network's quality of service, employ sophisticated patching strategies and spend on physical security and multiple servers.

But why would you want to?

A lot of effort went into making our FTP effortless.

Posted by Aaron Brady

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