Everything Dev Needs to Know About Windows SFTP Server

Welcome, Dev! In this article, we will explore the world of Windows SFTP Server. This article is designed to provide comprehensive information on SFTP on Windows, from what it is, to how to set it up, and everything in between. Let’s dive in!

What is Windows SFTP Server?

First things first, let’s define what SFTP means. SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer Protocol. It is a secure way of transferring files between machines over the internet. Windows SFTP Server is a software application that allows Windows machines to act as an SFTP server. This means that you can transfer files securely between a Windows machine and any other SFTP client that supports the SFTP protocol.

How Does SFTP Work?

SFTP uses a combination of public key cryptography and symmetric key algorithms to encrypt and transfer files between machines. When you set up an SFTP server, you generate a public/private key pair. The private key remains on the server, while the public key is shared with the clients that will be connecting to the server. When a client connects to the server, the server uses the public key to encrypt a session key, which is used to encrypt all subsequent data transfers. This ensures that all data transferred between the client and the server is secure and cannot be intercepted.

Why Use Windows SFTP Server?

Windows SFTP Server is a great tool for securely transferring files between machines. It is particularly useful in environments where security is a top priority, such as in businesses or government agencies. Additionally, since it is built into the Windows operating system, it can be set up quickly and easily without the need for additional software.

Setting Up Windows SFTP Server

Now that we have an understanding of what Windows SFTP Server is, let’s take a look at how to set it up.

Step 1: Install Windows OpenSSH Server

The first step in setting up Windows SFTP Server is to install the Windows OpenSSH Server. This can be done by following the instructions in the Microsoft documentation.

Operating System
Installation Instructions
Windows Server 2019
Windows 10

Step 2: Configure OpenSSH Server

Once you have installed the OpenSSH Server, you need to configure it to act as an SFTP server. This can be done by modifying the sshd_config file. Here’s an example of what the configuration should look like:

#Subsystem sftp /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server

Subsystem sftp internal-sftp

Match group SFTP-users

ChrootDirectory %h

ForceCommand internal-sftp

X11Forwarding no

AllowTcpForwarding no

Step 3: Create SFTP Users

Now that you have configured OpenSSH Server, you need to create SFTP users. This can be done using the Windows Computer Management console. Here’s how:

  1. Open Computer Management from the Start menu.
  2. Expand the Local Users and Groups folder.
  3. Right-click the Users folder and select New User.
  4. Create a new user account and assign it to the SFTP-users group.
  5. Set a password for the new user.

Step 4: Test the SFTP Server

Finally, you should test the SFTP server to make sure it is working as expected. You can do this by using an SFTP client to connect to the server and transfer some files. There are many SFTP clients available. Here are a few popular ones:

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What is the difference between FTP and SFTP?

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is an older protocol that is widely used for transferring files between machines. However, FTP is not secure and can be intercepted by anyone with access to the data stream. SFTP, on the other hand, uses encryption to secure the data and ensure it cannot be intercepted.

Can I use Windows SFTP Server on a home network?

Yes, you can use Windows SFTP Server on a home network. However, since it is designed for use in a business or enterprise environment, it may be more complex to set up than other solutions.

Can I use Windows SFTP Server to transfer files to a Linux machine?

Yes, you can use Windows SFTP Server to transfer files to a Linux machine. In fact, SFTP is a cross-platform protocol, so you can use it to transfer files between any two machines that support SFTP.

Do I need to have a static IP address to use Windows SFTP Server?

No, you do not need to have a static IP address to use Windows SFTP Server. However, if you have a dynamic IP address (which is assigned by your ISP), you will need to use a service like No-IP or Dyn to ensure that your server can always be reached at the same address.

Is Windows SFTP Server free?

Yes, Windows SFTP Server is free, as it is included with the Windows operating system.


In conclusion, Windows SFTP Server is a powerful tool that allows you to transfer files securely between machines. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up your own SFTP server on a Windows machine and start transferring files securely today! Remember to keep your server up to date with the latest security patches and to use strong passwords to keep your data safe.