There are lots of ways to access your files from work or from home! There are three main access methods for getting to your files: 

  1. CIFS (Windows) file sharing, which is a secure, fast, and convenient way to access files from on-campus (stands for Common Internet File System) [NOTE: requires VPN connection]
  2. SFTP, the Secure File Transfer Protocol, a well-defined, robust protocol which may be compatible with many nonstandard operating systems and embedded systems

So which of these methods is best to use? Well, whenever you're connected directly to the campus wired network, UAWifi, or the U of A VPN, the preferred way to access your files is through CIFS. This is a direct connection to the file server, which means it's faster than the other access methods given above. CIFS connections look something like this, with a series of backslashes:


How can I access the files on the College's network storage using the Common Internet File System (CIFS)?

If you're trying to access your files remotely without using the VPN, check out:

How can I access the files on the College's network storage with SFTP?


I'm using a Bluecat desktop PC, configured by Engr-IT.

If you're using a Bluecat desktop PC, it's very likely that you already have shortcuts to your files in several locations. These shortcuts are created dynamically, based on your 'security group' memberships. For instance, I'm in a security group of IT staff (a business unit), so I have shortcuts to network folders relevant to IT - 'IT Docs' and 'Software'. This is how these shortcuts generally appear in File Explorer in Windows:


Note that if you have any folders like this, they'll show up under 'This PC' - if you're not seeing the folders, make sure you have 'This PC' selected!

On a desktop computer, you will also likely have 'network drives' S: and Z: - The Home (Z:) drive is a personal folder to which only you have access. It's a good alternative to storing private files on your desktop or workstation.

If you're in a research group, you will also likely have an R: drive which points to the exact same place as the network shortcuts for your research group. This is provided for compatibility with older software. Note that although in this case there are at least three different pathways to a research group's files, they all point to the same physical data.

I don't have any of those shortcuts or drives. Or, I'm on a laptop.

Even if you don't have any of those shortcuts, you can always access your files through the UNC (Universal Naming Convention) path:


When you're prompted for a username and password, you must enter your username as:


Note that you must use backslashes (above the enter key) and not forward slashes (below the enter key) in this path. So if you're on the wired network or UAWifi or the campus VPN, you can open File Explorer (or My Computer - this is not Internet Explorer) and enter '\\\' in the location bar (at the top) to get to the listing of all Engineering network shares - and from there, navigate to your own files.

1. Enter \\ in the location bar at the top and hit the Enter key.

2. Enter your credentials, with BLUECAT\ in front of your NetID.

3. And you should be in! You should now be able to navigate to your files, whether they be in Business\Academic Affairs, or a Research folder, or what-have-you.
(If you have trouble accessing your files, please submit a help ticket, and we'll see what the issue is.) 

But I'm on a Mac.

That's okay! You can enter the UNC path 'smb://' in the 'Go' -> 'Connect to Server' dialog (⌘K) and use your 'BLUECAT\<NetID>' credentials to connect.

None of these directions are working.

Please remember that you need to be connected the UA network for any of these methods to work. That means at least one of the following:

  • You're connected to a wired network connection on campus (and not in the dorms).
  • You're connected to the 'UAWiFi' wireless network.
  • You're connected to the UA VPN (see 'How can I connect to the Engineering VPN?').

If you're connected, but you still can't access your files, please feel free to submit a support ticket and we can help troubleshoot. Or you can try Connecting via SFTP.


☎   (520) 626-7094