Transferring Files Using SecureFX

SecureFX is a Windows SFTP client. FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, has been moving files from computer to computer since the earliest days of the Internet. To cope with today's more dangerous Internet, FTP has added encryption, becoming Secure FTP or SFTP. SFTP clients, like SecureFX, give you a drag-and-drop interface and then translate your actions into SFTP commands for you.

SSCC members have several good alternatives for transferring files to and from the SSCC network. Logging in to Winstat allows you to see both the network drives and your local hard drive from within a terminal server session, and you can move files back and forth just by dragging them. Virtual Private Networking or VPN allows your computer to log in to the PRIMO domain, gaining access to network drives just as if you were in the Social Science building. SecureFX usually takes less time to set up than the other options, but it does require that you open it every time you want to transfer a file rather than having everything available through network drives. All three solutions work well and it's really a matter of preference.

SecureFX can be downloaded from DoIT's web site (be sure to get SecureFX and not SecureCRT) or from the SSCC directly. The default choices in the installation program are fine. If you use SecureCRT to log in to the SSCC's Linux servers, you'll see that SecureFX and SecureCRT are tightly integrated, sharing server lists and other settings and having much of their user interface in common. The disadvantage to this approach is that you'll see buttons and options which are only relevant to SecureCRT while using SecureFX.

If you're interested in using SFTP on Linux, or if you want to use anonymous FTP to make files available or let people send you files, see Using SFTP.

Setting up Connections

Any time you need to set up a connection to a new server, you need to run SecrueFX as administrator so it can make the necessary configuration changes. To do so, right-click on the SecureFX icon and choose Run as administrator.

When you first start SecureFX, you'll get the Connections window (if you don't, click the far left button on the tool bar). This is where you'll set up connections to the servers you want to use. To create a new connection, click Quick Connect, the button with the lightning bolt.

Note that the button next to it, New Session, is for SecureCRT and cannot be used to set up SFTP connections. Similarly, you'll see any sessions you have defined in SecureCRT, but if you select them the Connect button will be unavailable.

Connect Window

You'll then see the Quick Connect window. Set Protocol to SFTP. In Hostname, type the name of the server you want to connect to. The SSCC's FTP servers are ftp.ssc.wisc.edu for files stored on the Linux file system and ntftp.ssc.wisc.edu for files stored on the Windows file system. Make sure Port is set to 22 (not 23). Enter your Username if you like, or you can enter it when you connect. Check Save session. When you're ready, click Connect. You'll be connected with the server immediately, and these settings will also be saved so you won't have to enter them again later.

Quick Connect Window

Note that the first time you connect with a new server you'll see a message saying that the program does not yet have an entry for that host and it needs to save the encryption key. Click Accept & Save and that message will not return.

Using SecureFX

Once you're connected to the server you'll see two windows. You can arrange them however you like (the arrangement in the picture below was obtained by clicking Window, Tile Vertically).

The main window after connecting to a server

One window is for the server you've connected to (in this case, ftp.ssc.wisc.edu). The left side of the window shows directories and the right side shows files. The bottom shows the actual FTP commands sent to the server and the server's responses. These can be ignored if everything is working well, but if you run into trouble they may provide valuable information. You'll start in your home directory; you can easily move to any directory on the server.

The other window is for your local computer (in this case RUBY). Again, the left side shows drives or directories and the right side shows files.

Once you've located the file you want to move and the directory where you want it to be, simply drag it from one window to the other. SecureFX will send the proper FTP commands to the server to make it happen.

Last Revised: 10/15/2013