To connect through SFTP, you'll need an SFTP client, and without extra software (e.g., SFTP Net Drive, or ExpanDrive), your SFTP connection is only accessible through that client. That means you couldn't, for instance, save a Word document directly to your network share from within Word using SFTP. You'd need to save the file to some place on your computer, such as your desktop, and then copy the file to the SFTP server using your SFTP client. In Windows, we recommend the popular 'WinSCP' client, available free online and installed by default on Engineering IT-built systems. If you don't already have WinSCP, we recommend choosing the 'Commander Interface' during installation.

First, open WinSCP. You're immediately asked for login details:


Enter the host name 'file.engr.arizona.edu', and leave the default port (22). Enter your NetID and NetID password; the 'CATNET\' prefix is not needed here. Click 'Save...', if you like - this will save the server name and your username, so you don't have to keep entering them for future connections. Then click 'Login'.

The first time you do this, you'll get a warning that begins with: 

The server's host key was not found in the cache.

That's normal, but only the /first/ time you log in from a new computer. One security feature of SFTP is that it uses SSL, in which computers use public-key encryption to verify the identity of the server and sometimes of the client. This is kind of like someone proving their identity on the phone by making up a passphrase and using it every time they call you. If they keep using the same phrase, then it suggests that the person is the same as whoever called the first time. But the very first time they call, it doesn't prove anything - so that's what this warning is about. It will always appear the first time you connect to a new server. Click 'Add' or 'Yes' to add the server's public key to the local cache - remember, this warning SHOULD NOT appear on subsequent connections to the server from this computer.



After logging in, you'll get a window like this:


I'm using the 'Commander Interface', which can be selected from 'Options' -> 'Preferences' -> 'Environment' -> 'Interface'). Note that you are probably already using the Commander Interface unless you've done something funny.

On the left side is a list of files and folders on your local computer - probably your 'My Documents' folder - and on the right side is a list of files and folders on the Engineering servers. These are the same folders available on the WebDAV server, with one addition: 'My Home' cuts straight to your home (Z:) drive, which is just a neat feature that we can slip in with SFTP.  Note that in most cases you won't be able to simply double-click the files on the remote servers. To work with them, you'll need to drag-and-drop them to your local computer. You can drag-and-drop the files into the left pane of the WinSCP window, or you can drag-and-drop them directly to your desktop or any Windows Explorer window, just like any other file type - when you drop them, a transfer window will appear, where you can just click 'Copy' to start copying the file.

In the same way, you can copy files in the opposite direction, by dragging them from your local computer to the _right_ pane of the WinSCP window.

So, to edit a file using SFTP, you would want to: 

  1. Open WinSCP and connect to the server;
  2. Download the file to your local computer by dragging-and-dropping;
  3. Make any changes; and
  4. Upload the file back to the server by dragging-and-dropping.

Remember, you won't generally be able to edit files directly on the server with SFTP. Download, edit, and then upload. If you /would/ like to be able to edit files in-place, check out SFTP Net Drive (free) or ExpanDrive (paid)!