SFTP Server for Windows – A Comprehensive Guide for Dev

Hello Dev, welcome to our comprehensive guide on SFTP server for Windows. This article is specifically crafted to cater to your needs as a developer looking to set up an SFTP server on your Windows machine. We understand the importance of a reliable and secure file transfer protocol for your development process, and this guide will help you achieve just that. Let’s dive in!

What is SFTP and Why is it Important?

SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol, a network protocol used to transfer files securely over a network connection. Unlike FTP, which uses plain text and is therefore vulnerable to interception and manipulation, SFTP offers encryption at both ends of the transmission, ensuring complete data security.

As a developer, you may need to transfer large files or code between your local machine and a remote server. SFTP is an ideal solution for this, providing a reliable and secure way of transferring files. It also allows you to automate file transfer processes, saving you time and effort.

SFTP vs. FTPS: What’s the Difference?

While SFTP and FTPS both provide secure file transfer, there are some key differences between the two protocols. SFTP uses SSH (Secure Shell) for file transfer, while FTPS uses SSL/TLS (Secure Sockets Layer/Transport Layer Security). SFTP is generally considered more secure and easier to set up than FTPS.

Additionally, SFTP only requires a single port for both data and control, while FTPS requires multiple ports, which may be blocked by firewalls or other security measures. For these reasons, we recommend using SFTP for your file transfer needs.

Setting Up an SFTP Server on Windows

Step 1: Install OpenSSH Server

The first step in setting up an SFTP server on Windows is to install OpenSSH Server. OpenSSH is a free and open-source implementation of the SSH protocol that includes an SFTP server. Follow these steps to install OpenSSH Server:

Open PowerShell as an administrator.
Type the following command: Add-WindowsCapability -Online -Name OpenSSH.Server~~~~
Press Enter to execute the command.
The installation will begin. Wait for it to complete.

Step 2: Configure OpenSSH Server

After installing OpenSSH Server, you need to configure it to enable SFTP. Follow these steps to configure OpenSSH Server:

Open PowerShell as an administrator.
Type the following command: notepad C:\ProgramData\ssh\sshd_config
Press Enter to open the configuration file in Notepad.
Find the line that says #Subsystem sftp /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server and uncomment it by removing the #.
Save and close the file.

Step 3: Start OpenSSH Server

Now that OpenSSH Server is installed and configured, you need to start the service. Follow these steps to start OpenSSH Server:

Open the Windows Services Manager by typing services.msc in the Start menu search bar.
Find the OpenSSH SSH Server service and double-click on it.
Change the Startup type to Automatic and click on Start.
Click on Apply and then OK.

Step 4: Configure Firewall

Lastly, you need to configure your Windows Firewall to allow incoming SFTP traffic. Follow these steps to configure your firewall:

Open the Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security by typing wf.msc in the Start menu search bar.
Click on Inbound Rules and then New Rule.
Choose Port and click Next.
Enter 22 as the port number and click Next.
Choose Allow the connection and click Next.
Select the appropriate network location and click Next.
Give the rule a name, such as SFTP Inbound, and click Finish.

Connecting to Your SFTP Server

Now that your SFTP server is up and running, you can connect to it using an SFTP client. There are many SFTP clients available, both free and paid. In this guide, we’ll use WinSCP, a free and open-source SFTP client for Windows.

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Step 1: Download and Install WinSCP

Visit the WinSCP website and download the latest version of WinSCP. Install it following the on-screen instructions.

Step 2: Connect to Your SFTP Server

Launch WinSCP and enter the following details to connect to your SFTP server:

File protocol
Host name
Your serverโ€™s IP address or hostname
User name
Your Windows user account name
Your Windows user account password
Port number
22 (default port for SFTP)

Click on Save to save your session details for future use. Then click on Login to connect to your SFTP server.

Step 3: Transfer Files to Your SFTP Server

Once connected, you can transfer files between your local machine and the SFTP server. Simply drag and drop files between the two panels in WinSCP.


What if I Can’t Connect to My SFTP Server?

If you’re having trouble connecting to your SFTP server, there are a few things you can check:

  • Make sure OpenSSH Server is running and configured correctly.
  • Make sure your Windows Firewall is configured to allow incoming SFTP traffic on port 22.
  • Make sure your SFTP client is configured correctly, including the correct hostname, username, password, and port number.
  • Try connecting to your SFTP server using a different SFTP client to see if the issue persists.

How Do I Automate File Transfers with SFTP?

You can automate file transfers with SFTP using batch scripts or PowerShell scripts. Here’s an example PowerShell script that uploads a file to an SFTP server:

# Set up SFTP session$session = New-SFTPSession -ComputerName YourServer -Credential (Get-Credential)# Upload fileSet-SFTPFile -SessionId $session.SessionId -LocalPath "C:\Path\To\Local\File.txt" -RemotePath "/Path/To/Remote/File.txt"# Disconnect SFTP sessionDisconnect-SFTPSession -SessionId $session.SessionId

You can save this script as a .ps1 file and run it using the Windows PowerShell console.

Is SFTP the Same as FTPS?

No, SFTP and FTPS are different protocols for secure file transfer. SFTP uses the SSH protocol for encryption, while FTPS uses SSL/TLS. SFTP is generally considered more secure and easier to set up than FTPS.

Can I Use SFTP with a Third-Party SSH Server on Windows?

Yes, you can use SFTP with a third-party SSH server on Windows. However, we recommend using OpenSSH Server, as it is free and open-source, and has been extensively tested and optimized for Windows.

Is SFTP Secure?

Yes, SFTP is a secure file transfer protocol that uses encryption to protect data in transit. It is commonly used in enterprise environments for secure file transfer between remote locations.


Setting up an SFTP server on Windows may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and guidance, it can be a straightforward process. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can have a secure and reliable file transfer protocol up and running in no time. Happy coding, Dev!