Transferring Files to the College Unix Computers

There are a number of ways to transfer files to the College Unix computers, romulus and remus, as well as the high-perfomance computing system hpc. These computer names must be followed by when you are off campus or not using VPN, e.g. .

Mounting or mapping a network disk share allows you to transfer files simply by copying them. Learn more about that approach here.  

FTP (File Transfer Protocol) has long been the standard method for transferring files across the Internet. FTP is still routinely used to download files from public servers, but its vulnerability to untrusted sniffing led to the development of a better protocol for private file transfer, namely SFTP (Secure FTP).

There are a number of graphical secure file transfer programs available; Amherst IT recommends the following:

The Mac and recent versions of Windows also provide a “command line” or “shell” version of this program after you start up one of these applications: 

  • Macintosh: Terminal
  • Windows: PowerShell (for older versions of Windows 10, download Git for Windows and use Bash).

For example:

sftp username@romulus

where username is your Amherst College username. Once you start this program, type help to get a list of available commands.

These applications also provide a program using another file transfer protocol, SCP (Secure Copy Protocol), which lets you type in transfer commands more easily. For example:

scp localfile username@romulus:remotepath
Here remotepath is optional but could be a new filename or an existing folder in which to copy the file.

To copy an entire folder, include the option -r:

scp -r localfolder
sftp and scp will ask for your Amherst College password each time you use them, but as you’re typing you won’t see any •••••, just press the key <return> or <enter> afterward. You can also set up a secure passwordless connection.