This is a "copy & paste" HowTo! The easiest way to follow this tutorial is to use a command line client/SSH client (like PuTTY for Windows) and simply copy and paste the commands (except where you have to provide own information like IP addresses, hostnames, passwords,...). This helps to avoid typos.

Virtual Hosting With Proftpd And MySQL (Incl. Quota)

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme
Last edited 10/15/2005

This document describes how to install a Proftpd server that uses virtual users from a MySQL database instead of real system users. This is much more performant and allows to have thousands of ftp users on a single machine. In addition to that I will show the use of quota with this setup.

For the administration of the MySQL database you can use web based tools like phpMyAdmin which will also be installed in this howto. phpMyAdmin is a comfortable graphical interface which means you do not have to mess around with the command line.

This tutorial is based on Debian Sarge (Debian 3.1). You should already have set up a basic Debian system, as described here: and It should apply to other Debian-based distributions like Ubuntu, Knoppix, etc. without modifications. On other distributions like SuSE, Fedora, Mandriva, etc. only the Proftpd installation is different; the configuration of Proftpd should apply to these distributions as well.

This howto is meant as a practical guide; it does not cover the theoretical backgrounds. They are treated in a lot of other documents in the web.

This document comes without warranty of any kind! I want to say that this is not the only way of setting up such a system. There are many ways of achieving this goal but this is the way I take. I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!

1 Install MySQL And phpMyAdmin

This can all be installed with one single command:

apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client libmysqlclient12-dev phpmyadmin

You will be asked a few questions:

Enable suExec? <-- Yes
Configuring mysql-server (Install Hints) <-- OK
Which web server would you like to reconfigure automatically? <-- apache, apache2
Do you want me to restart apache now? <-- Yes

Create a password for the MySQL user root (replace yourrootsqlpassword with the password you want to use):

mysqladmin -u root password yourrootsqlpassword

2 Install Proftpd With MySQL support

For Debian there is a pre-configured proftpd-mysql package available. Install it as a standalone daemon like this:

apt-get install proftpd-mysql

Run proftpd from inetd or standalone? <-- standalone

Then we create an ftp group ("ftpgroup") and user ("ftpuser") that all our virtual users will be mapped to. Replace the group- and userid 2001 with a number that is free on your system:

groupadd -g 2001 ftpgroup
useradd -u 2001 -s /bin/false -d /bin/null -c "proftpd user" -g ftpgroup ftpuser

3 Create The MySQL Database For Proftpd

Now we create a database called ftp and a MySQL user named proftpd which the proftpd daemon will use later on to connect to the ftp database:

mysql -u root -p
create database ftp;
GRANT SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE ON ftp.* TO 'proftpd'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';
GRANT SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE ON ftp.* TO 'proftpd'@'localhost.localdomain' IDENTIFIED BY 'password';

Replace the string password with whatever password you want to use for the MySQL user proftpd. Still on the MySQL shell, we create the database tables we need:

USE ftp;

CREATE TABLE ftpgroup (
groupname varchar(16) NOT NULL default '',
gid smallint(6) NOT NULL default '5500',
members varchar(16) NOT NULL default '',
KEY groupname (groupname)
) TYPE=MyISAM COMMENT='ProFTP group table';

CREATE TABLE ftpquotalimits (
name varchar(30) default NULL,
quota_type enum('user','group','class','all') NOT NULL default 'user',
per_session enum('false','true') NOT NULL default 'false',
limit_type enum('soft','hard') NOT NULL default 'soft',
bytes_in_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_out_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_xfer_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_in_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_out_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_xfer_avail int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0'

CREATE TABLE ftpquotatallies (
name varchar(30) NOT NULL default '',
quota_type enum('user','group','class','all') NOT NULL default 'user',
bytes_in_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_out_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
bytes_xfer_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_in_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_out_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0',
files_xfer_used int(10) unsigned NOT NULL default '0'

CREATE TABLE ftpuser (
id int(10) unsigned NOT NULL auto_increment,
userid varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
passwd varchar(32) NOT NULL default '',
uid smallint(6) NOT NULL default '5500',
gid smallint(6) NOT NULL default '5500',
homedir varchar(255) NOT NULL default '',
shell varchar(16) NOT NULL default '/sbin/nologin',
count int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
accessed datetime NOT NULL default '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
modified datetime NOT NULL default '0000-00-00 00:00:00',
UNIQUE KEY userid (userid)
) TYPE=MyISAM COMMENT='ProFTP user table';


As you may have noticed, with the quit; command we have left the MySQL shell and are back on the Linux shell.

BTW, (I'm suggesting that the hostname of your ftp server system is you can access phpMyAdmin over (you can use the IP address instead of in a browser and log in as proftpd. Then you can have a look at the database. Later on you can use phpMyAdmin to administrate your Proftpd server.

Share this page:

12 Comment(s)

Add comment


From: nonsparker at: 2006-09-30 21:54:03

I was struggling with setting up an ftp server and this how-to made it very easy. I love this site and I hope you guys keep it up.

From: Rautamiekka at: 2012-04-09 22:37:49

This guide is old, meaning parts don't work anymore or are deprecated.

1) The SQL codes aren't working.

2) At least SQLHomedirOnDemand is deprecated.

3) The packages have other names.

From: DavidW at: 2006-10-18 15:03:38

Martin Mrajca's contribution to add a banner with report of the user quota to the LIST command is useful, but his solution suffers from two flaws. If the quota is 0 (signified by bytes_in_avail = 0), it reports nonsense, also it uses more database queries than are necessary.

These two flaws are fixed by using the following instead:

SQLNamedQuery userquota SELECT "IF ((SELECT (@availmbytes:=ROUND((`bytes_in_avail`/1048576),2)) FROM `ftpquotalimits` WHERE `name`='%u') = 0, \"No user quota applies.\", CONCAT(\"User quota: Used \", (SELECT (@usedmbytes:=ROUND((`bytes_in_used`/1048576),2)) FROM `ftpquotatallies` WHERE `name`='%u'), \"MB from \", @availmbytes, \"MB. You have \", ROUND(@availmbytes-@usedmbytes,2), \"MB available space.\"))"

SQLShowInfo   LIST    "226" "%{userquota}"


This makes use of MySQL user defined variables to store the results of the two queries, so that the results can be reused. This works for me with MySQL 5.0; I think it should work against MySQL 4.x but I'm not promising.

From: at: 2007-02-25 18:15:59

While running through this howto, I noticed two things that needed rectification in Ubuntu Edgy (6.10)

Firstly, you will need to uncomment the PostgreSQL module in /etc/proftpd/modules.conf when using MySQL. There is some silent conflict there that immediately disconnects users without even attempting to connect to MySQL when the PostgreSQL module is loaded alongside the PostgreSQL module.

Secondly,  there is the following warning:

 "SQLAuthenticate: use of * in SQLAuthenticate has been deprecated.  Use AuthOrder for setting authoritativeness"

 To rectify this, simply comment out that line, and add a line like the following:

AuthOrder mod_sql.c

Which will only allow logins for users in the MySQL database. See this link on AuthOrder for more information:

Great HowTO, by the way :) 

From: Anonymous at: 2005-11-10 07:35:49

First of all, nice article! Shows you how one should do it the right way! :)

I would like to point out that there's a nice webbased admin tool for doing just what you need, like adding users, chaning passwords, etc.. It's in an early stage, but more then usefull. (there used to be a tool like myftpadmin, but this project seems to have died..)

Here's PPMy :


From: Anonymous at: 2005-12-03 23:01:20

thank you for this quite good article. it's easy to understand and it seems to be complete...and finally, it really works :) kay (

From: Anonymous at: 2005-12-13 04:40:40

YAY thanks for the easy to follow guide :)



From: Anonymous at: 2005-12-27 16:58:28

It is extremely useful ! Thanks alot!

From: Anonymous at: 2006-08-15 02:47:40

I tested ISPConfig in VMWare and I saw that when you upload files into incoming directory, those files automatically get "hidden". That's good to avoid overwriting incoming files.

You will get that if you limit read permissions in incoming directory:
chmod 331 /home/anonymous_ftp/incoming

Thank you for this guide :) 

From: Conny at: 2008-12-28 16:49:08

No useful for me, I followed the guide and replaced the passwords when needed but I get this when I restart proftpd.

Fatal: unknown configuration directive 'SQLConnectInfo' on line 41 of '/etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf'

  Fatal: unknown configuration directive 'SQLAuthenticate' on line 37 of '/etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf'

  Fatal: unknown configuration directive 'SQLUserInfo' on line 45 of '/etc/proftpd/proftpd.conf'


Seems like everyting in the config file fails :-/



From: Conny at: 2008-12-28 17:17:25

As I wrote before i had errors starting proftpd, don't forget to uncomment the sql modules in /etc/proftpd/modules.conf

But I still have problems connecting with the 'exampleuser' and passwd 'secret'.


I will reboot the system and try again.


From: Jon at: 2011-09-22 01:16:25

I couldn't get this setup to work but found this one, which is similar and it worked: