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SFTPGo with PostgreSQL data provider and S3 backend

This tutorial shows the installation of SFTPGo on Ubuntu 20.04 (Focal Fossa) with PostgreSQL data provider and S3 backend. SFTPGo will run as an unprivileged (non-root) user. We assume that you want to serve a single S3 bucket and you want to assign different "virtual folders" of this bucket to different SFTPGo virtual users.

Preliminary Note

Before proceeding further you need to have a basic minimal installation of Ubuntu 20.04.

Install PostgreSQL

Before installing any packages on the Ubuntu system, update and upgrade all packages using the apt commands below.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Install PostgreSQL with this apt command.

sudo apt -y install postgresql

Once installation is completed, start the PostgreSQL service and add it to the system boot.

sudo systemctl start postgresql
sudo systemctl enable postgresql

Next, check the PostgreSQL service using the following command.

systemctl status postgresql

Configure PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL uses roles for user authentication and authorization, it just like Unix-Style permissions. By default, PostgreSQL creates a new user called postgres for basic authentication.

In this step, we will create a new PostgreSQL user for SFTPGo.

Login to the PostgreSQL shell using the command below.

sudo -i -u postgres psql

Next, create a new role sftpgo with the password sftpgo_pg_pwd using the following query.

create user "sftpgo" with encrypted password 'sftpgo_pg_pwd';

Next, create a new database sftpgo.db for the SFTPGo service using the following queries.

create database "sftpgo.db";
grant all privileges on database "sftpgo.db" to "sftpgo";

Exit from the PostgreSQL shell typing \q.

Install SFTPGo

To install SFTPGo you can use the PPA here.

Start by adding the PPA.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:sftpgo/sftpgo
sudo apt-get update

Next install SFTPGo.

sudo apt install sftpgo

After installation SFTPGo should already be running with default configuration and configured to start automatically at boot, check its status using the following command.

systemctl status sftpgo

Configure AWS credentials

We assume that you want to serve a single S3 bucket and you want to assign different "virtual folders" of this bucket to different SFTPGo virtual users. In this case is very convenient to configure a credential file so SFTPGo will automatically use it and you don't need to specify the same AWS credentials for each user.

You can manually create the /var/lib/sftpgo/.aws/credentials file and write your AWS credentials like this.


Alternately you can install AWS CLI and manage the credential using this tool.

sudo apt install awscli

and now set your credentials, region, and output format with the following command.

aws configure

Confirm that you can list your bucket contents with the following command.

aws s3 ls s3://mybucket

The AWS CLI will create the credential file in ~/.aws/credentials. The SFTPGo service runs using the sftpgo system user whose home directory is /var/lib/sftpgo so you need to copy the credentials file to the sftpgo home directory and assign it the proper permissions.

sudo mkdir /var/lib/sftpgo/.aws
sudo cp ~/.aws/credentials /var/lib/sftpgo/.aws/
sudo chown -R sftpgo:sftpgo /var/lib/sftpgo/.aws

Configure SFTPGo

Now open the SFTPGo configuration.

sudo vi /etc/sftpgo/sftpgo.json

Search for the data_provider section and change it as follow.

  "data_provider": {
    "driver": "postgresql",
    "name": "sftpgo.db",
    "host": "",
    "port": 5432,
    "username": "sftpgo",
    "password": "sftpgo_pg_pwd",

Alternatively (recommended), you can use environment variables by creating the file /etc/sftpgo/env.d/postgresql.env with the following content.


This way we set the PostgreSQL connection parameters.

If you want to connect to PostgreSQL over a Unix Domain socket you have to set the value /var/run/postgresql for the host configuration key instead of

You can further customize your configuration adding custom actions and other hooks. A full explanation of all configuration parameters can be found here.

Next, initialize the data provider with the following command.

$ sudo su - sftpgo -s /bin/bash -c 'sftpgo initprovider -c /etc/sftpgo'
2020-10-09T21:07:50.000 INF Initializing provider: "postgresql" config file: "/etc/sftpgo/sftpgo.json"
2020-10-09T21:07:50.000 INF updating database schema version: 1 -> 2
2020-10-09T21:07:50.000 INF updating database schema version: 2 -> 3
2020-10-09T21:07:50.000 INF updating database schema version: 3 -> 4
2020-10-09T21:07:50.000 INF Data provider successfully initialized/updated

The default sftpgo systemd service will start after the network target, in this setup it is more appropriate to start it after the PostgreSQL service, so edit the service using the following command.

sudo systemctl edit sftpgo.service

And override the unit definition with the following snippet.


Confirm that sftpgo.service will start after postgresql.service with the next command.

$ systemctl show sftpgo.service | grep After=
After=postgresql.service systemd-journald.socket system.slice -.mount systemd-tmpfiles-setup.service

Next restart the sftpgo service to use the new configuration and check that it is running.

sudo systemctl restart sftpgo
systemctl status sftpgo

Create the first admin

To start using SFTPGo you need to create an admin user, the easiest way is to use the built-in Web admin interface, so open the Web Admin URL and create the first admin user.

Add virtual users

The easiest way to add virtual users is to use the built-in Web interface.

So navigate to the Web Admin URL again and log in using the credentials you just set up.

Click Add and fill the user details, the minimum required parameters are:

  • Username
  • Password or Public keys
  • Permissions
  • Home Dir can be empty since we defined a default base dir
  • Select AWS S3 (Compatible) as storage and then set Bucket, Region and optionally a Key Prefix if you want to restrict the user to a specific virtual folder in the bucket. The specified virtual folder does not need to be pre-created. You can leave Access Key and Access Secret empty since we defined global credentials for the sftpgo user and we use this system user to run the SFTPGo service.

You are done! Now you can connect to you SFTPGo instance using any compatible sftp client on port 2022.

You can mix S3 users with local users but please be aware that we are running the service as the unprivileged sftpgo system user so if you set storage as local for an SFTPGo virtual user then the home directory for this user must be owned by the sftpgo system user. If you don't specify an home directory the default will be /srv/sftpgo/data/<username> which should be appropriate.