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Using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Programs

FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. A file transfer protocol program provides a way for computers to "talk" to each other in order to transfer files. This is the recommended alternative to transferring either large or many files instead of sending them as an an e-mail message attachment or enclosure. As most e-mail systems have a limit on how large an enclosed file can be (one to three megabytes is a common value) FTP applications can provide a solution to that problem.

Dartmouth provides an FTP server specifically for transferring files between on-campus and off-campus computers

Also see:

Which FTP Server Should I Use to Transfer Files from My Computer to Another Computer Off Campus?

The server named dropbox.dartmouth.edu provides directories for the exchange of files between machines located on the Dartmouth campus and machines located on other networks. Users from outside the College can deposit files in a folder named "incoming" and on-campus users can retrieve them by name from that folder. College users can deposit files in a folder named "outgoing" and users from outside of Dartmouth can retrieve them, if they know the file name(s). The contents of these folders cannot be viewed by name, so users need to know the exact file name(s) in order to retrieve the file(s). The filename itself becomes the password for retrieval.

Dartmouth Computing Services tries to keep several gigabytes of space available for anonymous FTP transfers, but the exact amount of free space is determined by how much is already in use. To find the current status of usage and space availability, see Anonymous FTP Dropboxes.

All files are deleted automatically from dropbox.dartmouth.edu. Illegal use of this service is prohibited.

Additional information is available; see Anonymous FTP File Transfer Using dropbox.dartmouth.edu.

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How Do I Connect to an FTP Server?

Fetch, an FTP program developed at Dartmouth (now licensed to Fetch Softworks) for Macintosh users, is available for download free of charge from the Web; see Software Downloads for Macintosh.

Windows XP Professional and Vista users can use a program called AbsoluteFTP, or a program called FTP Explorer, both of which are available for download free of charge from the Web; see Software Downloads for Windows.

There are many other FTP programs that can be used; the information necessary for connecting to these servers is essentially the same in all applications (field names may vary slightly).

For connections to all servers, leave the port setting to its default (21).

To connect to the dropbox.dartmouth.edu server, enter the following information:

Host Address: dropbox.dartmouth.edu
User ID: anonymous
Password: <your e-mail address>, e.g., John.A.Doe@Dartmouth.edu
Directory: (leave blank)

Be sure to select raw data or binary, not ASCII or text when transferring files to servers.

Other machines may be available for FTP access (e.g., cobweb), but their use is generally restricted to owners' accounts, and they are not generally used as public or private transfer points between users.

Additionally, some web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Netscape, Safari, or Firefox can be used to connect to FTP servers (older versions of Safari cannot). In the field where the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is entered, enter ftp://dropbox.dartmouth.edu/ (for example) to connect to the dropbox.dartmouth.edu server using the FTP Protocol.

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Once I'm Connected, How Do I Transfer Files?

The exact steps for transferring files varies depending upon the program you use to connect to the server (Fetch, AbsoluteFTP, FTP Explorer, Internet Explorer, etc.). Many FTP programs and web browsers support "drag and drop" as a method for copying files to and from these FTP servers. Alternatively, from a menu, you can choose to "put" or "upload" a file from your local drive to the selected folder on the FTP file server, or "get" or "download" a file from the selected folder on the FTP file server to your local hard drive.

For specific instructions, refer to the help files that are installed with the software you are using, or the online help that is available from the developers of the software.

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For additional information about sharing large files, see OurFiles.

Last Updated: 1/6/14