ShareIT Offers a Safe (and Affordable) Path to FTP

Would you trust a security guard with a scruffy beard and an overstuffed toolbelt? If you’re like most people, you probably prefer a clean cut look in those who protect your business. Perhaps it demonstrates their purity and that they are above-board with nothing to hide.

ShareIt FTP server from Noisette Software is an attempt to bring the well-groomed bodyguard look to the relatively staid realm of network file transfers.

FTP servers have a relatively clear mission in life: to transfer files from a host machine to a client. Like the simple and humble pizza, vendors couldn’t leave them well-enough alone, and they’ve added toppings — lots of toppings. The trend today among FTP servers is loads of finely grained options for massaging and managing the behavior of each and every file transfer session through per-user bandwidth throttling, quotas and ratios, sophisticated user and group privilege management, and more.

But ShareIt FTP server foregoes the exotic toppings in favor of the simple and secure. Its claim to fame is support for 168-bit encryption via secure socket layers SSL and integration with the Windows user database.

The server download is a humble 2 MB and it installs in under 4 MB. Depending on how active the traffic load is and the chosen logging features, disk space could grow considerably. Administrators of active servers may want to implement a scheme for rotating or archiving the logs that ShareIt produces.

The installation process is straightforward via InstallShield, with one small oddity: The actual FTP service is installed by the administrator using ShareIt’s administration client, FTP Console. Why this isn’t done during the InstallShield process is unclear to us.

Configuration options are simple and entirely accessible through one tabbed configuration window. They do allow for the management of some basic operation parameters of the server, such as the maximum number of connections (which is capped at 256) and global (not per user) bandwidth throttling. User management is largely absent from the FTP Console, however, because the software relies on a Windows domain or server to provide a user database.

This fact alone may make or break your attraction to ShareIt FTP: If you rely on a Windows-based user database, then the tight integration may be very appealing. On the other hand, if you make little use of Windows’ user database but want user control in the FTP server, then ShareIt may not be the best choice.

ShareIt’s support for SSL means users with SSL-enabled FTP clients can log in and transfer files securely, as their communications are entirely encrypted. This is certainly one of ShareIt’s primary selling points for organizations looking for a no-fuss and secure FTP server with simple administration.

Another nice feature is ShareIt’s flexible approach to firewalls and port usage. Many FTP servers, because of how they use and request ports, encounter problems when faced with firewalls. While ShareIt does not guarantee an automatic reprieve of firewall obstacles, it provides configuration options to enable the coordination of both ShareIt and the firewall so that the port demands work in sync rather than conflict.

ShareIt FTP server has remote administration capabilities when used with the FTP Console client. This means the client must reside on the remote machine (no generic Web-based administrator), and the firewall and ShareIt installation are configured to listen on the remote administrator port.

With a starting price just under $200, or below if additional licenses are purchased, ShareIt FTP server will not stretch the wallet beyond its means. The software is a modestly featured FTP server that gets the basics right, is simple to administer, integrates with Windows user databases, and above all, provides very strong security.

Pros: Simple to administer; Very secure; Firewall friendly

Cons: Lacks granular per-user management features; Tight integration with Windows user database (although this could also be a pro, depending on the organization); No generic Web-based remote administration tool

Adapted from ServerWatch.

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