Simple file sharing over the HTTP

The Web sites are easiest way to share an information and the files with other people. Real challenge is to enable an upload of the content to the Web site and to avoid the FTP service.

Although FTP service is designed for the file sharing, now it appears to be over complex for most Internet users. Users expect something that is easy to use. On the other hand, administrators wants something easy to maintain.

When we connected together the Web platform and a file sharing, simple usage and easy maintenance, we have the tool that will fit all that needs – the HTTP File server or the HFS. You can download it here.

The HFS is the standalone application which allows users to easily share files using the HTTP (Web) protocol. You can set up a small file sharing Web site in minutes.

Basic configuration will enable just the file download through the Web interface. However, you can enable more options, like an users or a file upload. The HFS itself doesn’t support the SSL (https) protocol. However, you can easily enable this with the STunnel tool.

 

The basic setup

We will start whole process by creating a folder for our program and optionally one for our files. If you already have the folders with the files, you can skip that part.

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On the Windows 7 (and later operating systems) we need to run this application with the Run as Administrator option. Otherwise, we can have some problems in a work.

If you have the Windows firewall enabled and configured to alert when some application is trying to access outer world, you will see a pop-up window with message that Windows Firewall blocked the HFS. If you want to share files over Internet, you should have firewall turned on.

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Enable all networks that you will use. It’s wise to omit any network type that you don’t plan to use. We will enable network access also to the public networks. That will allow us to share files over the Internet.

That’s it. The HFS is ready to work!

 

Protecting the HFS access

First thing we should do after we setup basic HFS system is to protect it. We will use the user accounts for access. We can protect all or just a few folders in tree structure.

Just to mention here. A file structure in the HFS can be either virtual (VFS) or built from the real folders. The virtual structure can acquire real folders as the subfolders. Every folder can have their own permissions for any specific user. We can either deny access or allow read and/or write permissions.

We will right click on the root symbol (/) and from the context menu choose an option Properties. New window will appear.

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We will use the button [ New account ] to create a new user. We need to specify a username and the password for that user.

The new user appears in the list on the tabs for an Access and a Delete rights. In the subfolders, we will have also the Upload tab. On every tab we can click the checkbox before an username to allow that permission to it. Here is an example for the delete permission for the user test.

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I must remind you that an username and the password will protect you system from an unauthorized access. However, the Web protocol is not encrypted. It’s easy to intercept whole data exchange between the client and a server computers. Bare this in mind.

 

Building our file tree

Now that we have protected access to the HFS application, next step is to build the file tree. As I mentioned, we can build complete virtual tree. Then we can just drag and drop a files or folders to the tree structure. The HFS will publish them to the world in such order.

I want to share specific folder from the disk. Therefore, I will again right click on the root and from the context menu choose an option Add folder from disk…

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A new window for Browse For Folder will appear and we can search our folder in the tree.

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New folder will appear in the tree. The folder icon will be red.

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We should now right click on it to configure the access rights to this folder. We will allow upload to it.

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Checking access

Last step before we can share our new HFS server with our friend is to check access to it. Remember that we want to use access protection.

The HFS application will read all IP addresses associated with your machine. In the address bar you can see the URL you can use.

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If you’re inside local network then use an internal IP. An external IP should be used only if you’re accessing system from the Internet.

We will enter this URL (an Internet address) in any browser. In our example that address is http://192.168.2.80. We will see the pop-up window with the message that we need to login with our credentials for this site.

We will login with the username test and the password test123. Of course, for the real system we should always use stronger passwords.

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We will be logged in and see only folder Slike. When we open it, we will see only test file test.txt.

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I always make a one simple test file, often plain text file, that I can later open from client system. When I click on this text file, its content will be displayed.

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Where to go further?

We can add more users, folders, files… When we build our site, we can start sharing files with our friends or the family. There is no limitation on the content type or the file size. However, you should consider your Internet bandwidth and the disk space.

The HFS story is not finished yet. We will see in the next part how we can work inside the HFS. Stay tuned.

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