FTP Sites and Virtual Directories

Updated: October 5, 2009

Applies To: Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista

With the new FTP service, you can create sites and virtual directories to share information with users over the Internet, an intranet, or an extranet. Sites and virtual directories work together in a hierarchical relationship as the basic building blocks for hosting online content.

Briefly, a site contains one or more directories or virtual directories, and a virtual directory maps to a physical directory on a server or a remote computer. Each of these three concepts is discussed in additional detail in the following sections.

An FTP site is a container for content, and you can access it through one or more unique bindings. A site binding is the combination of an IP address, a port, and the optional host names on which the FTP service listens for requests made to that FTP site.

A virtual directory is a directory name that you specify in IIS and map to a physical directory on a local or remote server. The virtual directory name then becomes part of the site's content space, and users can access content in the underlying physical directory, such as a list of additional directories and files. If you specify a different name for the virtual directory than for the physical directory, it is more difficult for users to discover the actual physical file structure on your server because the URL does not map directly to the root of the site.

In IIS 7, each FTP site must have a root virtual directory that maps the FTP site to the physical directory that contains the site's content. However, an FTP site can have more than one virtual directory. For example, you might use a virtual directory when you want your site to include files from another location in the file system, but you do not want to move the files into the physical directory that is mapped to the FTP site's root virtual directory.

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