Written by , Updated on May 25, 2021

SFTP (SSH File Transfer Protocol) is a secure file protocol used to access, manage, and transfer files over an encrypted SSH transport session. Security first is an thumb rules for the system administrators. Some times you may need to provide FTP/SFTP access to development or other teams to access file on remote server. This will allow you a secure channel to provide limited access to specific files and directories.

This tutorial will help you to create SFTP only user (without ssh shell access) on Ubuntu systems. And restrict (chroot) the SFT user account to specific directory only. Also disable the shell access to user.


  • A running Ubuntu 20.04 LTS system
  • You must have sudo privileged account with shell access

Step 1 – Create User

First of all, create a user account in your system to use as sftp user. The following command will create a new account named sftpuser with no shell access. You can change the username of your choice

sudo adduser --shell /bin/false sftpuser 

Step 2 – Create Directory for SFTP

Now, create the directory structure to be accessible by the sftp user.

sudo mkdir -p /var/sftp/files 

Here we will allow user to access “files” directory only.

Now, change the ownership of the files directory to the sftpuser. So that sftpuser can read and write on this directory only.

sudo chown sftpuser:sftpuser /var/sftp/files 

And set the owner and group owner of the /var/sftp to root. The root user has read/write access on this access. Group member and other account have only read and execute permissions.

sudo chown root:root /var/sftp 
sudo chmod 755 /var/sftp 

Step 3 – Configure sshd for SFTP Only

Now edit the SSH configuration file in a text editor

sudo vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config 

and add the following settings at end of file.

Match User sftpuser
	ForceCommand internal-sftp
	PasswordAuthentication yes
	ChrootDirectory /var/sftp
	PermitTunnel no
	AllowAgentForwarding no
	AllowTcpForwarding no
	X11Forwarding no

Save the configuration and restart SSH service to apply changes.

sudo systemctl restart ssh 

All done, SFTP only use is successfully created on your Ubuntu system. Now test the connection before providing details to other users.

Step 4 – Connect to SFTP User

Once can connect to remote SFTP server using command line or graphical applications like Filezilla or WinSCP. In this tutorial, I will show you both ways to connect sftp only account on Ubuntu system.

Linux users can use sftp command line utility to connect to remote sftp instance.

sftp [email protected] 

[email protected]'s password:

GUI interface or Windows users can use graphical sftp clients. For example, use filezilla client to connect remote sftp only account on remote system.

How to Create SFTP Only User in Ubuntu 20.04 General Articles sftp SSH

Verify no shell access:

As this account is configured for SFTP only connection. So if any user tried to connect via SSH will be disconnected immediately after successful authentication. User will get below message:

ssh [email protected] 

[email protected]'s password:
This service allows sftp connections only.
Connection to sftp.tecadmin.net closed.


This tutorial describes you to create a sftp only user account on Ubuntu system. Disabled shell access for the same account to restrict user to sftp access only.