CIFS, which stands for Common Internet File System, is a secure, fast, and convenient way to access files from on-campus or using a VPN connection anywhere else.

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 the fastest method we recommend. CIFS connections look something like this, with a series of backslashes:


You'd type that in the location bar in the File Explorer, or when mapping it to be pinned, if you were aiming to have a shortcut to your folder(s). All this is explained further below:

First a reminder: if you're off-campus, you'll need to be using VPN to connect to the campus network. If you don't have the VPN client installed, click here and go to the "Support, How-To's & Info" tab.

Accessing the Files

You can navigate to where you wish simply by typing the file path in the location bar at the top of the File Explorer window and pressing Enter, like so:

Note: if you're on the wired network on campus, you don't need the "" - We just like to emphasize this part for those connecting from elsewhere.

Now, you can either leave it at that, hit enter, and you can choose where you want to go from the main server listings, or you can fill in more, if you know a bit more about your desired destination. For example:

\\\Business\Academic Affairs\department_folder\

Whatever path you enter, you may be asked for your credentials.

Remember to put BLUECAT\ before your netid!

And voila! You should now be able to access your files from anywhere, so long as you're connected properly!

How can I access these folders quickly?

Want your commonly accessed folders to show up under This PC, and/or your Quick Access area? You've come to the right place!
(When off-campus, you still need to sign into the VPN client)

1. Right-click This PC and select Show More Options -> Map network drive... 

2. On the window that pops up, select the Drive drop-down menu, and choose a letter- any letter, really, so long as it's not already taken. The image below shows that the Z: drive is already being used by my Home drive, as per our default setting. Some letters aren't available (and so aren't even shown, like C and D), as they're reserved for other things, but the rest are free to choose from. Let's choose Y.

3. In the Folder field is where you enter the path to which you'd like a shortcut- you can either type this out, or copy+paste it from the location bar in a File Explorer window, if you have the location open. You can have the shortcut go to a folder as deep in the file system as you like. For example:


Also, whether you're at work or home, make sure to check the box for Connect using different credentials to ensure that you're asked for your NetID credentials.

4. Once you click finish, it'll ask you for your NetID and NetID password:

(You can tell it to remember your credentials so you don't have to do this every time- it doesn't store your actual password, it remembers it as an encrypted string of characters that the Bluecat domain understands as your password.)

And voila! You now have a mapped shortcut that you can access more quickly, and right-click to Pin to Quick Access up at the top, to access even more quickly!