ArgoSoft FTP server
June 5, 2002
ArGoSoft's FTP server is a good lesson in setting out a design path and sticking to it. It's tempting for many software developers to become ambitious -- and sometimes this does indeed produce great software. Other times, though, it can yield applications built on promises and bugs. ArGoSoft's FTP server is not the most ambitious FTP server available, but what it aims to do, it does well and intuitively.
The standard installation wizards unpacks ArGoSoft FTP server into a featherweight 1 MB of disk space. On launch, the program runs in the taskbar tray under Windows, and the tray menu offers access to all of the program's features: start and stop the server, configuration options, user accounts, and IP rules. One quirk of the tray menu is that it fails to disappear when the mouse moves onto another desktop window.
When setting up the server, a user must first create user accounts that mediate who may connect to the FTP server. This is a straightforward process; each user can be assigned a name, password, and a home directory to access on the server. Specific accounts can be limited to any combination of view/read/write access, and they can also be filtered by IP address rules. Accounts may also be granted advanced "SITE" commands -- that is, commands that can be executed on the server. A useful example are the ZIP/UNZIP commands. These commands enable a client to compress or decompress a file on the server before beginning the transfer. Overall, ArGoSoft's options and context menu are consistent with Windows standards and thus are intuitive to navigate.
IP filters can allow or ban specific addresses or ranges of addresses. Unfortunately, it seems that users must either allow or ban all specified addresses, but cannot allow some addresses and ban others. However, users can apply the IP filter globally or against only specified user accounts. They can also configure the server for multiple IP homing -- if, for example, the server has more than IP address. The server can behave with a different configuration, depending on which IP "home identity" is being requested by the client user. While flexible, multiple-homing a server is not a common configuration, and one could argue that alternative control features may be more useful in this product.
ArGoSoft FTP Server displays and optionally saves standard logging information, recording basic activity among users. While ArGoSoft's FTP server supports these essential FTP services, including resuming interrupted transfers, this is the extent of its ambitions. Features that ArGoSoft does not aim for include: more finely grained user management controls (such as throttling bandwidth usage by user), transfer quotas, user-specific greetings (it does allow one global greeting), and auto-kick and auto-banning of abusers. Users requiring that level of FTP server sophistication might want to consider the G6 FTP server instead.Pros: 7 Setup and configuration is intuitive and a breeze for managing FTP basics, 7 Menus are well laid out and consistent with most Windows applications, 7 Intermediate-level server control features
Cons: User management features may be insufficient for large FTP sites with heavy loads, 7 IP filtering rules are not all that flexible, 7 Shareware price may make product uncompetitive with those of similarly priced but better-equipped competitors