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How to Setup SFTP User Account on Ubuntu 20.04

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How to Setup SFTP User Account on Ubuntu 20.04


In this article you will know about to Setup SFTP User Account on Ubuntu 20.04.

A secure shell (SSH) session is required for the use of the Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP), which is a secure method for exchanging data between a local and distant computer. It is an upgraded version of the standard file transfer protocol (FTP), which adds an additional layer of protection during the process of transferring files and establishing a connection.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to set up SFTP User accounts on Ubuntu 20.04 and enable the user to only access files that are located within the user's home directory.

Setup SFTP

Make a new group for SFTP users and join it. You should provide the name of the group you want instead of sftpcorner.

# addgroup sftpcorner

Make a brand-new account for the user. Simply replace "exampleuser" with the user name you want to use.

# adduser exampleuser

To continue, kindly enter the full name of the user and their password.

After that, the user should be added to the SFTP group.

# usermod -G sftpcorner exampleuser

Put access restrictions on the user so they can't access files outside of their home directory.

# chown root:root /home/exampleuser

Now, within the user's home directory, create new subdirectories. These are used in the process of file transfer.

# mkdir /home/exampleuser/uploads

Give the user ownership of the subdirectories and files in the directory.

# chown -R exampleuser:exampleuser /home/exampleuser/uploads

The next step is to give the user permission to read and write all of the files contained within their home directory.

# chmod -R 755 /home/exampleuser/

Configure SFTP

After creating the user accounts and the sftp group, you will need to enable SFTP in the primary SSH configuration file.

Using an editor of your choice, open the file /etc/ssh/sshd_config.

# vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Add the following lines to the end of the file. Replace sftpcorner with your actual sftp group.

Match Group sftpcorner
ChrootDirectory %h
PasswordAuthentication yes
AllowTcpForwarding no
X11Forwarding no
ForceCommand internal-sftp

Save and close the file by escape :wq

Below are the functions for each of the above configuration lines:

1. Match Group sftpcorner: Match the user group sftpcorner.

2. ChrootDirectory %h: Restrict access to directories within the user's home directory.

3. PasswordAuthentication yes: Enable password authentication.

4. AllowTcpForwarding no: Disable TCP forwarding.

5. X11Forwarding no: Don't permit Graphical displays.

6. ForceCommand internal-sftp: Enable SFTP only with no shell access.

Also, confirm if SFTP is enabled (it is by default). The line below should be uncommented in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

# override default of no subsystems
Subsystem sftp  /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server

Restart the SSH server for changes to take effect.

# systemctl restart sshd

Login to SFTP

Open a new terminal window and log in with sftp using a valid user account and password.

# sftp [email protected]_IP

List files within the directory. Your output should be similar to the one below:

[email protected]_IP's password:

Connected to server_IP

# ls

Also, try creating a new directory within the subdirectory to test user permissions.

# cd uploads
# mkdir files

Confirm creation of the new directory:

# ls
command output

FileZilla and Cyberduck are the most popular SFTP clients available for Windows, Mac, and Linux desktop to test connectivity using a desktop client.


In this guide, you successfully setup SFTP user account on Ubuntu 20.04 server, then tested connectivity through a terminal session and FileZilla. You can create multiple users with different directories to securely upload and download files on your server.

Thank You 🙂

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