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 SFTP, SMB General purpose file server; personal storage SFTP, HTTP Web server for schools, departments and labs

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

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 UIUC 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:

You might need to put double-quotes around a path if it contains spaces, e.g.:
"\\\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 * \\\labs10 * /user:uofi\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 * \\\labs10 * /user:uofi\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:

Using SMB on macOS

In the Finder, select Go (menu) -> Connect to server
In the 'Connect to' field, enter the URL, e.g.:

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

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

For Windows, we recommend WinSCP. Available for free from

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, you'd use:

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:
(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 and 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.

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