Many users want to transfer or share files with family and friends without getting involved with FTP or VPN networking. "Wouldn't it be great if I could effectively host my own website on my own PC?" Some rock-solid freeware products reviewed here let you do exactly that.
Go straight to the Quick Selection Guide
HFS (HTTP File Server) is well documented, very easy to use and runs "right out-of-the-box". It's tested and hardened webware, unlike, for example, XAMPP and WAMP. Please note that those are dev tools - development testing servers for a LAN environment - and should never be used for production (hosting live web resources of any kind).
HFS is different from classic file sharing because there is no network. It's a web server which uses web technology to be more compatible with today's Internet. You can limit this sharing to just a few friends, or be open to the whole world. Your friends can download files as if they were downloading from a website using a web browser; they don't have to install any new software. Works with both static and dynamic DNS.
# Virtual file system
# Highly customizable
# HTML templates available (many)
# Bandwidth control
# Easy/Expert mode
# Full control over connections
# User Accounts / Password protection
# Dynamic DNS updater
# Very responsive and friendly user-community (forum)
Other software that might be suitable and has yet to be tested or reviewed:
You can also use a private FTP server such as Core's freeware mini-ftp server. Do not confuse this with their payware FTP server (there are two different apps). This is a micro SFTP server, and one that we recommend. It can be used for secure PC-to-PC file transfer:
Core Mini SFTP server
Any web traffic solution of any kind involves risk of compromise of your computer by web-based threats. You should be especially wary of hosting any server software that is not widely recognised as being secure. For example, XAMPP and WAMP are not secure and cannot be made secure except by experts (who would use something else anyway, for production). Please exercise caution if using any server apps we do not specifically recommend. Currently we have only tested one secure solution: HFS.
There is no known complete tutorial on the Net for hardening XAMPP, and for novice users it cannot be hardened (secured against exploits). Experts will be able to harden it, but wouldn't do that in any case - if you are an expert in Apache, PHP, MySQL, Linux and Windows Server, why would you use a Windows / Apache dev tool to host a livesite? You'd use the right tool for the job, a LAMP server, if you are an expert. Therefore we cannot recommend XAMPP or WAMP except for their designed purpose: private LAN use for website development, teamsite hosting, or fileserving.
It is not acceptable to risk running an exploited webserver, just as it is not acceptable to be a typhoid carrier at large in the community. It might not hurt you yourself, but it hurts others.
http file transfer, transfer files, share files, host own website