Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Own Home FTP Media Server!

I’m going to try to make this guide as simple and easy as possible. It took me a long time to get everything up and running, and I learned quite a bit from it. I’m basing this entire setup on Windows, XP or 7, your choice. This is a completely free setup, I am not using any expensive software! Keep in mind, I haven’t figured out how to keep it completely secure quite yet, so I wouldn’t recommend accessing your FTP server from a coffee shop or library. However, you’ll probably be ok as long as you have a decent password. Only your FTP server’s security would be compromised, if anything, not the computer that is connecting to your FTP server.

Software you'll need:

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If you’re starting from scratch without an operating system, the first thing you need to do is download tinyXP (or Windows 7 64 bit if your hardware supports it) using uTorrent. Once you have, you’ll have an .iso file which you can burn to a dvd. To do this, I recommend a software called CDBurnerXP.

Once you have the disc made, installing tinyXP is about the same as installing the official version. All it asks is which version you would like before you fully install it. TinyXP includes the full version of Windows XP, a slimmed down version (which I recommend), and a micro version. If you’re using the Windows 7 download, the creator has made a very cool screenshot based setup guide in the folder “Windows Installation Instructions (NEW)”.

With tinyXP you can install all of the Microsoft Updates without worrying about Windows activation getting angry at you. With Windows 7, you can install all the updates except one update called “KB971033″. I recommend you hide that specific update so it doesn’t automatically download. Once that’s done, run the Windows 7 Activation executable that’s found in the “Windows 7 Activation (Recommended)” folder found in the torrent that you downloaded.

After installing Microsoft Updates, it’s time to install (and update) your anti-virus software. Once you got that down, we can start with the technical stuff. Oh, and you might want to install Chrome, too. IE is lame. I’ll write this guide in two parts, FTP Setup, and Media Setup. Let’s do this!

FTP Setup

For your FTP server, you’ll need both a static private ip and static public ip address. Usually, you would have to pay for a static public ip address by calling your service provider and paying an extra fee. In order to get around that, we use DynDns, which stays in your system tray and tracks what your current IP is, and redirects it to a free domain name. It’s really great, and super handy to have around. It’s one of those things that always runs in the background perfectly with no issues. Go to DynDns and sign up. Go to the bottom left of the page labeled “Free Domain Name,” choose something cool you’d like to have as your server address, then click add. It will bring you to a page where you can create your new account. After you’ve gone through that process, go here to download the DynDns Updater. Install it, and enter your username and password. Then, check the host name that you want to redirect your computer to, which is found in the list in the DynDns Updater Configuration window.

Now, for your static private network IP address, if you’re on Windows XP go to your Control Panel >> Network Connections >> Local Area Connection >> Properties >> TCP/IP >> Properties. (on Windows 7 it’s Control Panel >> Network and Internet >> Network and Sharing Center >> Local Area Connection >> Properties >> “Internet Protocol Version 4″ >> Properties) Then, separately, press the Windows key + R, type CMD, press OK then type in “ipconfig /all” into the command dialog box and press enter. You’ll see in that list IP(Windows 7 is IPv4) Address, Subnet mask, Default Gateway, and DNS server. Take all of that information and pop it into the TCP/IP Properties box you opened. You most likely won’t have an alternate DNS server, leave that one blank.

After you have all of the information entered, you need to look at your IP address on the top line. Change the last number to something fairly high – out of your DHCP range. By default, on Apple’s Airport Extreme Base Station, it’s 200. I set my private IP address to 10.0.1.201 so it’s just out of range (but for you, it might be 192.168.0.201, or even something different, just change the last number only to something higher than 200). If you don’t set it out of the DHCP range, it’s not going to work. Most routers don’t go any higher than 200, so set it to something pretty high, but not 255. You’re done with that, so press OK and close everything.

Setting up the FTP server is as simple as… wait. First, make sure you have the latest Java version. If you’re starting from scratch, you won’t have Java at all. So go download it by simply clicking the gigantic “Free Java Download” button on Java.com’s homepage. And, of course, you need to install it too! Now that you have Java installed, go to the CrossFTP Server page and simply click on the “Start FTP Server” button. It should download a .jnlp file. Open that up, and after it starts, click the “Allow Access” button that immediately pops up. If you’re on Windows XP, check the “Start Automatically after System Login” box – on Windows 7, it won’t work. You’ll need to drag the shortcut to the startup folder in your start menu. After you have that set, open up CrossFTP server and add a user by going to the Users tab. Type in your preferred username, and then click the Add button. Then you can add a password, add the directory for that user, and check the Set Password and Write Permission boxes. Then, of course, click Save.

You still need to open up your ports for outside access. To do that, open up Windows Firewall by going to your control panel. After you’ve opened it up, on Windows XP, click on the “Exceptions” tab at the top, then “Add Port”. Name it anything you’d like, then put in “21″ under port. Select the TCP radio button (not UDP), and you should be good to go.

On Windows 7, click the Inbound Rules tab on the side, click New Rule on the right side, click Port, click Next, make sure it’s TCP, type in “21″ after Specific local ports, click Next, click Allow the connection, click Next, make sure all boxes are checked, click Next, name it, and click Finish. Now, do the same for the Outbound Rules tab on the side.

One last thing you need to do, which I won’t be able to walk you through because every router is different, is open up port 21 on your router using the Private IP address of your server computer you typed in way earlier.

Media Setup

Setting up the media side of things is a little bit easier. We only have a couple of things to do. I’m simply using uTorrent for automatic TV Show downloading. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t have any way to directly connect our cable TV to my computer. Secondly, I like watching TV without the advertisements. Simple as that.

First, I will create a few folders. One I will call “Live” for all shows that are currently downloading, so I don’t end up starting a show that’s not even ready for me to watch. The second folder will be called “Archive”. When I’m done watching a show I will move it to it’s own folder there. Both of these folders will be located in a folder called “TV Shows”… hah, what else?

Folder Structure

So, for uTorrent, you’ll want it to automatically download and seed for a ratio of 1:1. You’ll want it to shut off seeding after you’ve uploaded the same amount you downloaded (or if you’re nice, an even higher ratio). To do that, go to the Preferences by pressing Ctrl+P, then click on Queueing on the left hand side. Look for “Minimum ratio” and put 100 in the box on the right. Also, look down for “When uTorrent Reaches the Seeding Goal.” Check the box, and type a zero in the box on the right.

When it’s done downloading a show, you will want uTorrent to automatically move the file from the “Live” folder to your main TV Shows folder, ready for watching. To do that, click on “Directories”on the left hand side of the Preferences pane. Check “Put new downloads in:” and select the “Live” folder you created. Do the same for “Move completed downloads to:”, only select the folder “TV Shows”. Also, check “Only move from the default download directory.”

Now to setup automatic show downloads, you need to gather some RSS feeds of your favorite shows. Go to ezrss.it, type the show name, and click search. Once you’re on that page, check the “Exact” box, and press search again. Now to get your RSS url, right click on “Search-based RSS Feed,” and click copy link address. Go back to uTorrent, click on “Feeds” in the sidebar, then click on the “Add RSS Feed” button at the top. Paste your url in the Feed url box, name it something by checking the custom alias field, and click on the “Automatically download all items published in feed” radio button. Click OK, and it will generate the list of episodes, and most likely already start downloading.

So, there you have it! I hope this helped some of you create your own FTP Media servers. I know this was quite a lengthy tutorial so it might have gotten confusing on some parts, so if you need any help please feel free to comment.

Nathaniel Hirschler Avatar
By Nathaniel Hirschler

I'm not a fan of writing bios.
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