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A variety of files and directories in an SMF install need to be given the correct permissions to work properly. Giving permissions to files or directories in the Unix world is called chmod (change mode). Chmod is a Unix command that lets permission levels be assigned to each file or directory.
The three digits in a permission (for example, 644), represent permissions for the owner, the group and the world, respectively. Common digits include 4 (read only), 5 (read and execute), 6 (read and write) and 7 (read, write and execute). These are permissions as far as the operating system is concerned, not visitors to your web site. In a secured hosting environment, 666 or 777 are not dangerous, but 644 or 664 are the recommended permissions for everyday use. Please read about why chmod 777 is NOT a security risk for more information on the topic.
Although a shell prompt in a Unix-like environment can be used to do this, an FTP client is often used for such task. Depending on the FTP client being used, chmod is usually available through menus or by simply clicking the right mouse button when hovering over a file or directory and choosing the chmod/property option. To set the permissions check the properties or enter the corresponding chmod numbers in the dialogue box.
Note: SMF in some cases will ask for an FTP username and password in order to chmod some of it's files and or directories automatically.