Help Desk

Computing & Information Services

Connecting to Reed's server with SFTP

What is SFTP?

SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) is a network protocol used to transfer files over a secure connection. There are many programs that use this protocol which allow you to work with files on remote servers from anywhere in the world. 

How to connect to Reed's servers via SFTP

To connect to Reed's SFTP server, you must provide at least the following session information to your SFTP client software:

  • Server Address - sftp.reed.edu
  • Username - use your kerberos username at Reed. You cannot connect to Reed's SFTP server anonymously.
  • Password - use your Kerberos password at Reed (i.e. the password you also use for email).

Some SFTP clients may require additional information, but the defaults will probably work. When you connect to Reed via SFTP, your initial remote directory should be your home directory on the sftp.reed.edu.

More detailed instructions on how to connect to Reed's servers are available on our Fetch (for Macs) and WinSCP (for Windows) pages.

Using SFTP in UNIX

SFTP can also be used through a UNIX command line, such as the OS X Terminal or Windows PuTTY (more information on these programs can be found at the UNIX help page). Information on all of the commands available in the UNIX SFTP program is available by typing help or help [command] while connected to SFTP.

To open sftp in a UNIX terminal:

  1. Type sftp [user]@sftp.reed.edu (where [user] is your login name) and hit return. This will open an sftp connection on Reed's sftp server. (If you want to exchange files with a different server, use sftp [user]@[domain] to connect.)
  2. Enter your password at the prompt. Your cursor will not move and no text will appear while you are entering your password.
  3. Type put [filename.extension] to begin sending a file. If the file you want to send is not located in your Home Folder (and you haven't previously changed directories), you will have to tell the sftp program what path to follow in order to find your file ( put [directory]/[directory].../[filename.extension]). This can be done in Terminal either by manually describing the path, or by dragging and dropping the file onto the command line. After a few seconds, depending on the size of your file, you will see a message indicating that your file has arrived successfully.
  4. Type get [filename.extension] to begin downloading a file. If the file you want to get is not located in the main directory of your sftp space, you will have to tell the sftp program what path to follow in order to find your file ( get [directory]/[directory].../[filename.extension]). After a few seconds, depending on the size of the file, you will see a message indicating that your file has arrived in your Home Folder (on your local computer) successfully.
  5. To disconnect from the sftp program, type bye or exit and hit enter, or press control-D.

Glossary

  • archive - an FTP site that holds large collections of files available for download.
  • ASCII [mode] - most commonly refers to a plain-text file. Also, the FTP setting used for the transfer of plain-text files. Microsoft Word files, which have the extension .doc, are not ASCII.
  • automatic [mode] - your FTP program should be set on automatic mode, as opposed to the ASCII or binary modes.
  • binary [mode] - a computer file that is not simply text, such as a sound file, picture, or computer program. Also, the FTP setting used for the transfer of binary files. Files created in Microsoft Word are binary.
  • client - a program or computer that processes information or does tasks by sending requests and receiving information from a server.
  • download - to receive files from a computer somewhere else (like a server) onto your computer.
  • FTP - an abbreviation for File Transfer Protocol, which is an agreed-upon method for transferring files between computers on the Internet. FTP addresses begin with "ftp://", as opposed to Web addresses, which begin with "http://".
  • FTP site - a server with an address on the Internet that has been set up to use FTP to store and transfer files.
  • get - the FTP command for "getting," or downloading, files from a server to your computer.
  • mirror - an FTP site that has been set up to duplicate exactly the contents of another site. By mirroring, traffic can be divided between the mirror sites and the original, making downloads faster for everyone.
  • path - the route you take down directories and sub-directories to get to the files you want.
  • permissions - the rules on a server that determine who has the ability to do certain things, such as access, read, write, rename, move, or delete files or directories.
  • put - the FTP command for "putting" or uploading files from your computer to a server.
  • server - a computer that processes information or does tasks by handling requests from client computers.
  • SFTP- FTP (File Transfer Protocol) over SSH (Secure Shell), or Secure FTP. We recommend using SFTP for transferring files.
  • upload - to send files from your computer to somewhere else (like a server).