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File Transfer and FTP/sFTP
0. Contents 1. File Transfer: Which type should you use? 2. Intro to FTP 3. Web Publishing via FTP 4. FTP Details 5. Related Links

File Transfer: Which type should you use?

In General...
  You don't generally "transfer files" between computer systems, at least not if you take "transfer" to mean taking a file from one computer/computer system and moving it to another. File transfer between computers usually involves bringing or sending copies of the file being transferred.

There are many ways to transfer files between computers, depending both on the type of file you want to move and on exactly what or who is going to receive it.

If you're transferring files between one computer account and another:
Here "computer account" is anything you can send email to. If the email software being used on both ends is "MIME-aware", then by far the best way to send any type of file from one account to another is sending it with email as a "MIME attachment". All modern email packages support MIME attachments, including the three supported by the ACCC at UIC: Eudora, WebMail, and pine.

If you're transferring files between to computers or computer accounts that belong to you:
Your best bet here still is sending the files by electronic mail if that is an option. If not, and if both computers/computer accounts are on (or are currently connected to) the UIC computer network (or otherwise connected to the Internet network), then you can use FTP to transfer files. FTP is somewhat harder to use than MIME email. Note: if the file isn't plain text, you'll need to specify that to FTP, though these days, most FTP applications can figure that out by themselves. Starting soon, you must use sFTP -- secure FTP -- to connect to any ACCC UIC FTP server.

If you want to make certain files publicly available:
Your best bet here is to make them available through a World Wide Web home page; see Web Publishing at UIC for more information.
But Sometimes It's More Complicated
  If the file you want to transfer is a plain text file -- one that you can read online -- then file transfer is as simple as is described above. But there are special considerations when you want to transfer a file that is intended to be read by a program. (Or, for that matter, it is an executable program itself.)

Exactly what you do in these cases depends on what type of file it is.

At the very least, if the file isn't plain text, you'll need to specify that to FTP/sFTP or when you attach it to a note in Pine or Eudora.

If it's data that is input for or output of a database, spreadsheet, or statistical program, then the documentation for the program should tell you what you need to do. (Often you have to "export" the data in a special form for transport.) You'll also have to take into consideration whether the file's recipient has the right program (and the right version of the program) to handle the file.

If it's a word processing file (say for Word or WordPerfect), don't send it as is unless you know that the person who's receiving it has that same word processing package, for the same platform (that is for a personal computer or a for Macintosh), and it's at least as new a version as yours. Generally, it's best to ask the person who's receiving the file what type of file they can handle; you might want to to "export" the file in a special file format (such as Microsoft's RTF -- Rich Text Format) that can be easily handled on both ends.

FTP/sFTP File Transfer Previous:  0. Contents Next:  2. Intro to FTP

2006-12-6  ACCC documentation
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