Office of Information Technology

Using File Servers at UIUC Life Sciences

File servers allow you to access data on a remote computer. There are many protocols you can use to share data between computers. The common protocols in use here are:

SMB (Windows file sharing)
AppleShare (for Macs)
SFTP (secure FTP)
HTTP (hypertext transport protocol - the web protocol)
HTTPS (secure HTTP)

With SFTP and HTTP, you can only upload or download the data to your local disk. Using SMB or AppleShare, you can mount a directory and use it as if it were a local disk on your computer.

Currently, UIUC Life Sciences has these main file servers:

Server Accessible via Purpose
commons2.life.illinois.edu AppleShare, SFTP, SMB General purpose file server; personal storage
www.life.illinois.edu SFTP, HTTP Web server for schools, departments and labs
www-u.life.illinois.edu SFTP, HTTP Personal web pages
www-s.life.illinois.edu SFTP, HTTPS Web applications

The following sections detail how to use each of the protocols to exchange data. If you have any questions, please contact us at help@life.illinois.edu.


Using SMB

Please note: SMB (Windows file sharing) can only be used via a campus network connection, or remotely when a connection to the CITES VPN server is already established. More info on the CITES VPN.

Windows - Method 1: You can either enter the path you want to access into the Start->Run box, or browse via My Network Places (or Network Neighborhood in older versions of Windows).

Common path for our SMB shares look like this:
\\commons2.life.illinois.edu\labs11

You might need to put double-quotes around a path if it contains spaces, e.g.:
"\\astrix.life.illinois.edu\artist drop"

Windows - Method 2: In Windows XP & Windows 2000 you can explictly tell Windows the path and login information by selecting Tools->Map Network Drive in any Explorer window. (That's Windows Explorer, the window you see when opening My Computer or any folder, and not Internet Explorer, the web browser.)

Use the Connect using a different user name link, if the login or password for your computer and the fileserver are different.

Use the Reconnect at logon checkbox, if you want Windows to attempt to re-establish the connection to the fileserver everytime you log into your computer.

Windows - Method 3: If you like a command line solution, open Command Prompt (or select Start menu->Run and enter "cmd"). In the Command Prompt window enter:
net use * \\commons2.life.illinois.edu\labs10 * /user:jdoe
Of course, change the path and jdoe to appropriate values.

If you would like the connection to be automatically re-established when the system is restarted, add /persistent=yes to the end of the command:
net use * \\commons2.life.illinois.edu\labs10 * /user:life\jdoe /persistent=yes

Mac OS X 10.2 and higher will allow you to use SMB shares. Select Go->Connect to Server in the Finder. Then in the 'Connect to' field, enter, something like:
smb://commons2.life.illinois.edu/commons


Using AppleShare

In Mac OS X, select Go->Connect to server in the Finder
In the 'Connect to' field, enter the host to connect to:
commons2.life.illinois.edu

Use the '+' button to add this host to Favorite Servers.

You can optionally specify the username and volume:
jdoe@commons2.life.illinois.edu/commons

After click ok, you'll be promted for your username and password, and then you'll see a list of the volumes you can choose from.

The icon for the Commons volume should now appear on your desktop.


Using SFTP

You'll need SFTP client software in order to use these protocols. Some web design applications, like Dreamweaver, have SFTP built-in.

For Mac OS X, we recommend Cyberduck. Available for free from http://cyberduck.ch/.

For Windows, we recommend WinSCP. Available for free from http://winscp.net/.

For Cyberduck or WinSCP, you'll need to provide information to establish the connection. As an example, to connect to the base directory for web documents on www.life.illinois.edu, you'd use:

host: www.life.illinois.edu
username: your Life Sciences account name
path: /web/html

In an pinch, Mac OS X systems have a command-line SFTP client built-in. Just open the Terminal application (in Applications/Utilities), then type:
sftp jdoe@commons2.life.illinois.edu
(of course, replace jdoe with your own login).
Then you can use the command 'get filename' to download a file, or 'put filename' to upload a file.


Using HTTP and HTTPS

Using the HTTP and HTTPS protocols to download files is just a matter of entering the desired URL in a web browser. You can click on the link for the file you want to download, or right-click on a link (click and hold on a Mac) to get a menu which may have a choice like, Save Link As....

To upload files, a web application must be available to accept the upload. We offer an upload web application on www.life.illinois.edu and www-s.life.illinois.edu that can be used as a drop box for course data or to share info colleagues at other institutions. Please contact us for more info.


Return to Frequently Asked Questions
help@life.illinois.edu