Java-based FTP server good at supporting mirrored FTP sites for load balancing.

By ServerWatch Staff (Send Email)
Posted Nov 27, 2001

There are a lot of FTP servers, as you can tell from the list of products reviewed here at ServerWatch. In this crowded field, the smart companies have tailored their servers to fit certain uses or punch up certain features to distinguish themselves. A good example is CrushFTP, Inc. CrushFTP 3.0, which takes the tack of providing features that allow it to play as an FTP aggregator by providing access to directories on other FTP servers across the Internet. As an example of this capability, CrushFTP specifically supports mirror sites that can be used for load balancing. Its sophisticated enough to be able to switch from a main server to a mirror server when the traffic reaches a maximum bandwidth.

In this crowded field, the smart companies have tailored their servers to fit certain uses or punch up certain features to distinguish themselves.

This is a compact (about 750K), easy to install, Java based FTP server -- which means it runs on any Java-ready platform. All you need is the Java environment, essentially JRE 1.3 and Swing. CrushFTP doesnt ship with an FTP client but responds to most third-party browser and standalone clients. We found the performance to be average across a test suite of files and directories.

In addition to the virtual server capabilities, Crush FTP can also handle virtual directories, meaning you can map directories into a list used by CrushFTP, and change names, permissions, and rights as you wish. This makes it possible to add directories from remote servers and still have the necessary security controls.

Given the distributed FTP capabilities, security rises in importance -- meaning that standard garden-variety login and bandwidth restrictions arent sufficient. Fortunately, CrushFTP offers a well-designed and reasonably detailed approach to security and server management. The primary control is through a management module that can be used both locally and remotely. Among other things, at the server level file extensions can be monitored, hammering is controlled, and filenames can be blocked. Another module, the User Manager, provides GUI access to dozens of user and group security options including account expiration, upload purging, and IP inclusion/exclusion. On the down side, CrushFTP does not provide SSL support.

There is no scripting, per se, but CrushFTP does have event actions -- server events -- that can trigger email, file, log, and beep actions. Combined with a long list of server variables (e.g. account information, session information) a lot of sophisticated activity can be accomplished with this approach.

Up to this point CrushFTP is an excellent shareware product, and then we come to documentation -- there is almost none -- no manual, no online help (at least we couldnt find it in the program or at the Web site). This is not good, of course, especially for people unfamiliar with the jargon and techniques of managing an FTP server, although the user interface does make it possible to do basic things (like a wizard for adding users) without needing documentation. However this is the first program weve seen in ages that doesnt have the (usually) ubiquitous "?" help icon somewhere in the program. We hate to say it, but if you dont already know the territory, you probably dont want to go here.

In a crowded FTP server market, CrushFTP distinguishes itself as an especially good choice for those who wish to aggregate or network more than one server. Despite the lack of documentation, its got the management and security features it needs and a shareware pricing policy that makes working with multiple servers less of a divot in the budget.

Pros: 7 Multi-platform, virtual server and directory support, 7 Remote management of multiple servers

Cons: 7 Nonexistent documentation, 7 No SSL support, 7 User list is manual entry


Version Reviewed: 3.0b20
Reviewed by: Nelson King
Date of Original Review: 11/28/2001
Last Updated: 5/28/02

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