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Anonymous FTP File Transfer

The server dropbox.dartmouth.edu can be used for the exchange of files between Dartmouth College people and other Internet users. Users outside the College can connect using any FTP client, user anonymous, and deposit files in the directory called incoming, then College users can retrieve them. College users can deposit files in outgoing, and outside users can retrieve them if they know the exact file names. Nobody can list the contents of either directory. Effectively, the filename itself becomes the password for retrieval.

All files are deleted automatically after a few days. Transferring very large files may prevent others from using these directories. You should seek other means for very large files. Twenty-five gigabytes of disk space is provided for combined incoming and outgoing drop boxes (as of 08/11).

Illegal use of this facility is prohibited.

Warning: Files placed in this directory are not secure. Sensitive or confidential data can be encrypted using a separate tool, with the decryption key sent to the recipient by a more secure mechanism.

Questions about this service should be sent to Help@Dartmouth.edu.

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Incoming Directory

You can use this directory to transfer files from computers outside Dartmouth to computers at Dartmouth. Outside users should use the FTP PUT command (or equivalent menu selection in a graphical client) to place files here. Then, they can tell their Dartmouth associates what the file names are. The Dartmouth user can then retrieve the file with the FTP GET command. A simple way to do this is to send e-mail with the URL in the form ftp://dropbox.dartmouth.edu/incoming/myfilename. The recipient can simply paste the URL into a web browser.

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Outgoing Directory

You can use this directory to transfer files from computers at Dartmouth to computers outside Dartmouth. Dartmouth users should use the FTP PUT command (or equivalent menu selection in a graphical client) to place files here. Then, they can tell their outside associates what the file names are. The outside user can then retrieve the file with the GET command. A simple way to do this is to send e-mail with the URL in the form ftp://dropbox.dartmouth.edu/outgoing/myfilename. The recipient can simply paste the URL into a web browser.

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Caveats

Free space available on the server can be very volatile. The status page shows the current free space. While this system is easy to use and requires no accounts or passwords to be created, there are some disadvantages:

  • Mysterious upload errors if the disk is filled by uploading too much.
  • No control over the files after uploading them. You have to wait until the system removes it automatically.
  • Permissions errors if you accidentally use a file name that has already been used. Using non-trivial file names helps.
  • Some FTP client user interfaces will modify the file name as presented to the user, usually simplifying it by dropping an extension suffix indicating the file type. For example, Report-Oct-2003.ppt may be displayed without the .ppt. The full file name is uploaded to the server, however, and so, the full file name must be used when you try to retrieve the file. Most Microsoft Windows GUI FTP clients operate this way, following the file manager preference to "hide extensions."
  • Problems with some FTP clients on Microsoft Windows.

    Some FTP clients for windows (including the command-line FTP delivered as a standard part of Windows) will appear to upload my_long_filename.dat, and on the other end it appears as something like MY~L~~FE.DAT, but you don't get to see that. To avoid this issue, if you must use Windows, test that you can successfully download the file yourself, or rename the file using a DOS-style 8.3 file name.

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Last Updated: 12/5/13