HTTP File Server: web file management

People manage their files from all over the world via FTP nowadays. Numerous files are transferred between phones, tablets, computers, and even to smart TVs. In the end, it is managed through multiple FTP clients on each platform, and not from the web browser. What if I were to tell you that you can completely manage your files through the web, not having to worry about installing a client for file management and instead manage them with quick and ease from one device to another. Enter HTTP File Server.


HFS(HTTP File Server) is a unique piece of kit. It allows for users to manage their files as if they were using FTP through the use of HTTP. You can define directories, upload files straight from the web interface, dictate which users access which folders, and protect them with a username and password. It runs on all(if not most) versions of Windows, and is very lightweight. The cool part is that you don’t need to install it, just download the executable(.exe) file and place it in a folder that you would prefer to keep it in.

The only downside is that if you’re planning on using HTTP File Server to manage your files through the internet, your connection will not be encrypted with HTTPS, leaving it vulnerable to prying eyes. Fortunately, there are solutions to this such as running an VPN tunnel and encrypting it so that any traffic passing through is guaranteed secure. You can also use Stunnel to forward any incoming connections to an encrypted proxy, therefore giving you an HTTPS connection to work with.

Download HFS from here.

Copy the “hfs.exe” file you’ve just downloaded from your “Downloads” folder and copy it to a folder of your choosing.

It should look something like this, preferably easier for management. Now, we are going to make a new folder to store our files or files that will be uploaded in the near future. Right-click and select New->Folder. Name it however you like.

Go ahead and click on “hfs.exe” to run it. You may get a prompt, click “Run”. You will also be asked to allow this application access to your network.

You will be asked if you want HFS in your shell context menu. This allows you to easily add additional folders from your hard drive to access through HFS. If you find this to be a convenient option, then go ahead and click “Yes”.

You are now at the main HFS window. You will also notice HFS running under the tray area of your task bar. From there, you will be able to open this window at any time and configure as needed. If you close the HFS window, the program will close. In order to remedy this issue, click on the “Menu” option at the top left corner.

Look for “Start/Exit”.

Click on “Minimize to tray clicking the close button [ X ]”. You may also configure how HFS starts, and to start up upon boot of Windows.

Now we are going to add the folder we’ve created earlier to our HFS server. Where it says “Virtual File System”, right-click anywhere within the box and click “Add folder from disk…”.

Navigate to the path of the folder that we’ve created earlier and click “OK”. You are also free to add any folder that you desire.

We are now prompted to define a type of folder for one we’ve just selected. Select “Real folder” since in most cases we are going to be using actual folders for our server.

As you can see, the folder has been added to the virtual file system. Right-click on the folder and click on “Properties..”

You can set properties for each folder added to your HFS server. Here you can define access privileges. You can make a “New account” and add a username/password in order to access the folder for instance. You can also set privileges such as “Delete” and “Upload” in each tab. For now, click on the “Upload” tab and then click the checkbox where it says “Anyone”. Click “Apply” and “OK” to close the window.

In the main HFS window, click where it says “Open in browser” right next to your default web address. This will automatically open up a new web browser window straight to our HFS file server page.

Here, your folders are displayed. Go ahead and click on your newly-defined folder.

Of course our new folder has no files in it. At the left side of the web page under “Actions”, you will find the “Upload” button. When you click on it, you will be asked to “Browse…” a file to upload. You may upload multiple files at once in the same folder by pressing CTRL+A and then clicking “Open”. Once you’re ready, click “Upload” and wait for it to complete and click “Back”.

Your file has been placed in the folder. Of course you may fill this folder with content through Windows File Explorer by normal means, and then your users can download it on the network through their web browsers. This makes HFS one of the simplest solutions for quick and easy file sharing.