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File transfer methods

Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) is the recommended method of transferring files between a personal machine and a central service such as DS-Filestore. Public cloud services are useful, but users should be mindful of data protection issues.

Cloud services

Cloud-based file hosting services such as Dropbox, Google Docs and iCloud are useful tools that enable staff and students to share and transfer files. However, users should be mindful of the risks involved in storing information in the cloud, and should never store personal data in a public cloud service.

Always read the terms and conditions of any service you intend to use in order to determine how your data will be stored, who will have access to it and the service provider's position on intellectual property. Further details can be found in this paper on Cloud Computing Services: Benefits, Risks and Intellectual Property Issues.

File transfer protocols

Of the three main protocols for transferring files between Internet-connected systems, SFTP is the most common secure method. SCP can transfer files using a single command, but is not as widely used. FTP is insecure and therefore not recommended.

Client and server programs

To transfer files, you need a client program on the system that initiates the connection, and a server program on the system at the other end (the host) that can accept incoming connections and process requests from your client. Large multi-user systems generally run an SSH server that accepts SFTP and SCP connections, and some run an FTP server.

None of the main Computing Service systems runs a plain FTP server. The Hermes filestore runs SSH servers and DS-Filestore has an SFTP server, but does not accept SCP. Mail folders on the Hermes mailstore can only be transferred using Hermes Webmail. See the 'Managed desktops and applications' section or further details on how to transfer files to and from DS-Filestore.


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