Public Hosting (Web Hosting)


Public Hosting (Web Hosting) mode allows Files.com to operate as a public-facing web server, serving files via HTTPS without requiring login or requiring any specific API, protocol, or app.

Customers use Public Hosting (Web Hosting) mode for a wide variety of use cases including:

  • large scale distribution of files
  • hosting static websites
  • sharing files with China (which often blocks file sharing sites, like Files.com)
  • integrating with apps that require a direct HTTPS link to a file

File Types Supported

Your folder in Public Hosting mode can serve any type of file and MIME type.

These include html, xml, css, javascript, images, videos, music/sound files, pdfs, text files, and many more.

Public Hosting mode does not support any server-side scripting or databases, such as PHP, .NET, or JSP.

If you would like to serve a website that has dynamic content, that is best accomplished using Javascript that retrieves data from an external source. This approach is called the JamStack approach.

Index Pages

You may optionally enable Index Pages on your Public Hosted folders. When this option is enabled, folders inside your web server will show public indexes of their contents. This is very useful if your web site visitors don't always know the full path to files they need, or if you do not include an HTML document with a table of links to other files.

Password Protection

You may optionally secure your Public Hosted folders by a single username and password, which is collected via HTTP Basic authentication. This looks like a popup dialog in the browser used by your visitors, and it also works with curl and other tools.

This password protection requires that you set a single username and password for the entire folder and is not the same as securing access via multiple usernames or via a registration page such as supported by Share Links. If you need to be able to create multiple usernames and passwords, we recommend that you create these as full users on your site.

Sitewide rules for password requirements are applied to public hosting passwords by default. Site Admins may disable this feature by navigating to Sharing > Settings > Apply password rules to shares, inboxes, and publicly served folders.

Or, if you wish to edit your User password restrictions, navigate to Settings > Users > User Settings > Password restrictions.

Custom Domains

Files.com uses an entirely different domain for public hosting mode as a security measure.

Public hosting mode enables the hosting of any content, including Javascript that could potentially execute in a web browser. Because of this, we need to isolate this Javascript away from your Files.com site's primary domain in order to avoid CSRF attacks.

Using the separate [subdomain].hosted-by-files.com domain protects your site from such dangers.

Logging

We do not currently record any logging for requests related to publicly served files in web hosting mode.

If you are interested in logging for Public Hosting, please let us know and we would be happy to track this as a feature request.

Other file operations that occur in publicly shared folders, such as operations by logged-in users or downloads via share links, are logged normally however.

Enabling Public Hosting (Web Hosting) on your Site

Public Hosting is a Folder Setting, which means you can toggle it individually on a per-folder basis. You must be a Site Admin or Folder Admin for the relevant folder.

Here are the steps to activate Public Hosting (Web Hosting) mode in a folder:

1. Navigate to a folder you would like to activate as a web server and click on the folder settings icon. Click on the Publicly serve (web hosting) setting.

2. Check the box for Serve files and sub-folders publicly at the following URL and enter a value in the field that completes the URL.

The value you enter can be anything you like that does not contain reserved, unsafe, or excluded characters as defined by RFC 1738. The value must also be unique among your publicly served folders. If you attempt to enter a URL value that duplicates one you already have, you will see an error message and must edit the value before you can save.

Space characters are permissible and will be handled appropriately by most web browsers but will be encoded.

Strategies for choosing a URL value for your folder vary with the mission your new web server will fulfill.

For example: if your folder's content is intended to be freely available to the public anywhere or is serving content embedded in one of your websites, you might choose a descriptive URL such as /montana-parks-images or /user-manual-humidifier-2854 or /wireframes-newapp-project or /videos-soccermatches-full.

Another example: if your folder's content is intended to be publicly available but very difficult to find without specific communication from your team, you can take a "security by obscurity" approach with a URL that resembles a token, such as /sh4g7f3gf9xz39h-3hgtr4d or any link that no one could reasonably guess without being provided the link directly.

Disabling Public Hosting (Web Hosting) on a Folder

Should you ever need to stop one of them, the process is simple:

  1. Return to that folder's folder settings and click on the web hosting mode setting.
  2. Un-check the box that says Serve files and sub-folders publicly at the following URL.
  3. Click Save.

That folder is no longer serving files to the public as a web server.

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