Full-Featured FTP Server

Full-Featured FTP Server

June 21, 2002

Note: When this product was reviewed, it was known as G6 FTP Server. Despite the name change, few major changes have taken place.

Organizations searching for a simple FTP server for Windows have plenty of choices, and those looking for a full-featured FTP server especially suited to the intermediate to advanced Windows user will want to take a good long look at the Gene6's G6 FTP server. Unlike some other FTP servers we have seen recently, G6 does not try to integrate features from other protocols (such as IRC or telnet). Rather, the author of G6 has focused on implementing an FTP server with all the features users request. Of course, packing many features into a piece of software is valuable, but without a strong interface too many features can become burdensome. G6, however, holds strong on both counts.

The 1.16 MB download actually installed into a footprint slightly less than one MB on our Windows 98SE machine. There is no InstallShield, but the installer is straightforward. Our only gripe is that the software does not let you nest the G6 program group into a sub-group; that must be done manually after installation. Following installation, the clear license agreement reminds the user that the shareware version is limited to five uploads or downloads per connection and 30 days.

The main setup window, accessed from the setup menu, offers a cascading tree of configuration preferences. Most are clearly labeled. Beyond the typical FTP settings, there are many behavior parameters to employ — for example, the automatic deletion of unfinished uploads, the encryption of passwords, the prevention of simultaneous connections per user, and set retry/kick/ban behavior. In the advanced configuration administrators can modify the server's buffer size, enable anti-hammering measures, and prevent server-to-server transfers as performed by such clients as FXP. There are a plethora of settings for customizing the location and appearance of log files that track all server activity. More esoterically, if a machine has multiple IP addresses, the user can bind multiple IP addresses to the server.

Access is controlled by the standard model of user and group accounts. It is simple to create a new user, assign a password, and, optionally, a group. In the user configuration screen, the administrator has easy access to a variety of parameters applicable to the user. He or she may add any paths from the file system and apply read/write/delete/append privileges to files as well as make privileges to directories. Again, these access controls may be defined on a per-user basis. With a click of a check mark, he or she can enable or disable a user account without needing to modify any of the account's parameters -- a convenient form of management. Ratio and disk quotas are also enforceable at the user level. Administrators can attach a text note to a user's account for internal reference, set IP masks on access for a user account, and quickly see the user's last connection and activity.

Keeping tabs on server activity is a powerful tool with G6. By default, real-time activity is reported to the main G6 window when open, although this is easily disabled. Several views of ongoing activity are available: The Hit-O-Meter displays hits on particular files, the Statistics window shows a summary of types of activity on the server, and the Server Activity window is a live view of all current connections and exactly what a particular user is doing. In addition to configurable disk-based logging, G6 has all the tools needed to monitor both the server and its users.

G6's Events Manager is a nice touch. It lets the administrator choose a pre-defined event, such as "OnWelcomeUser," "OnTooManyUsers," or "OnFileDeleted," and assign a message, sound, or external program to be launched with the event. Although administrators cannot add new event types, and the events are global rather than user-level, event management can be a good way to alert users to specific types of activity without needing to constantly monitor the action.

Overall, G6 FTP server is extremely well-rounded, with an intuitive, well-laid- out interface. Our biggest complaint is a relatively minor nit-pick. The documentation is available only online, and its nonfluent English is a distraction at times. Still, the interface is explained where needed without too much interpretive confusion. At a modest U.S. price of around $20 (the U.S. dollar price fluctuates slightly, as the price is fixed to the French franc), a number of G6's nicer features can also be found in freeware alternatives, such as GuildFTPd, but the extra money for G6 buys a great deal of configurability in a powerful and easy-to-use package.

Pros: 7 Powerful and highly configurable, 7 a "wish list" of server features, 7 clean intuitive interface, 7 modest price

Cons: 7 The interface's redraw responsiveness is somewhat slow, 7 online documentation is a little rough in the English translation

Version Reviewed: 2.0 Beta 7
Reviewed by: Aaron Weiss
Last Updated: 5/18/01
Date of Original Review: 4/27/00