SFTP, or secure FTP, is a program that uses SSH to transfer files. Unlike standard FTP, it encrypts both commands and data, preventing passwords and sensitive information from being transmitted in the clear over the network. It is functionally similar to FTP, but because it uses a different protocol, you can’t use a standard FTP client to talk to an SFTP server, nor can you connect to an FTP server with a client that supports only SFTP.

You can use SFTP with a graphical SFTP client or at the command line.

Graphical SFTP clients

Using graphical SFTP clients simplifies file transfers by allowing you to transmit files simply by dragging and dropping icons between windows. When you open the program, you will have to enter the name of the host (e.g., quarry.uits.indiana.edu) and your username and password. At Indiana University, students, faculty, and staff can download two SFTP clients (MacSFTP for Mac and WinSCP for Windows) from IUware Online.

Command line SFTP

You can use command line SFTP from your Unix account, or from your Mac OS X or Unix workstation. To start an SFTP session, at the command prompt, enter:

sftp username@host

For example, to connect to your dvader account on the host sithlord.org, you would enter:

sftp dvader@sithlord.org

Enter your password when prompted.

Some standard commands for command line SFTP include:

cd Change the directory on the remote computer
chmod Change the permissions of files on the remote computer
chown Change the owner of files on the remote computer
dir (orls) List the files in the current directory on the remote computer
exit (orquit) Close the connection to the remote computer and exit SFTP
get Copy a file from the remote computer to the local computer
help (or?) Get help on the use of SFTP commands
lcd Change the directory on the local computer
lls See a list of the files in the current directory on the local computer
lmkdir Create a directory on the local computer
ln (orsymlink) Create a symbolic link for a file on the remote computer
lpwd Show the current directory (present working directory) on the local computer
lumask Change the local umask value
mkdir Create a directory on the remote computer
put Copy a file from the local computer to the remote computer
pwd Show the current directory (present working directory) on the remote computer
rename Rename a file on the remote host
rm Delete files from the remote computer
rmdir Remove a directory on the remote host (the directory usually has to be empty)
version Display the SFTP version

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