SFTPget help

These are generic instructions for installing your pages using any SFTP or SCP/ssh-based file-transfer program.

A note on recommended clients

We recommend that you only use FTP if no other options are available. FTP is not a secure protocol: it sends your username and password in clear text over the network.  Some FTP clients are also unable to modify file permissions on our server: changing file permissions is a function that is often critical for publishing web pages in your SFU web filespace.

A better approach to managing your SFU web space is to use a file transfer program that is capable of secure connection methods such as SFTP or scp/ssh. Free software is available such as WinSCP or PuTTY on Windows, or Fugu or Cyberduck on Mac OS X to transfer files to ftp.sfu.ca; web publishing applications such as Dreamweaver also support the SFTP protocol.

Publishing your pages

Correctly installed, your pages will automatically have the web address http://www.sfu.ca/~account (where account is your SFU Computing ID) as long as your starting file is named index.htm or index.html.

In general, your settings will be:

Setting Example
username kipling
(your SFU Computing ID)
password [your SFU Computing Account password]
server name  
ftp.sfu.ca
directory some programs will work with just pub_html, others may need /home/kipling/pub_html - replace ‘kipling’ with your SFU Computing ID

If you are using an SFTP or SCP program rather than web publising software, the typical procedure to copy files to the server is:

  • Connect to ftp.sfu.ca
  • Log in with your SFU Computing ID and password
  • Change directory to pub_html

Put your web files in place. Use binary mode for gif, jpg and jpeg files. Macintosh users who are using a Macintosh operating system prior to OS X, use Raw Data mode.


If you don’t appear to have a pub_html directory, do this one time procedure:

  • Make an ssh connection to fraser.sfu.ca and log in.
  • Make sure your home directory is permitted appropriately with the Unix command:
    • chmod 711 /home/yourID (substitute your SFU Computing ID for yourID)
  • Create a directory called pub_html:
    • mkdir pub_html
  • Permit pub_html appropriately:
    • chmod 755 pub_html


If you try to view your pages at http://www.sfu.ca/~account, and you get a message saying that 'access is forbidden', this procedure may help:

  • Make an ssh connection to fraser.sfu.ca and log in.
  • Make sure your home directory is permitted appropriately with the Unix command:
    • chmod 711 /home/yourID (substitute your SFU Computing ID for yourID).
  • Permit pub_html appropriately:
    • chmod 755 pub_html


If individual pages within your site are responding with 'access is forbidden':

Reconnect to fraser.sfu.ca with ssh to make sure your web files are permitted appropriately:

cd pub_html
chmod 644 *.htm
chmod 644 *.html
chmod 644 *.gif
chmod 644 *.jpg

These commands will ensure that all files that end with the indicated suffixes are world readable.

If you create any sub-directories within pub_html, they should be permitted 755:

chmod 755 directory_name

Any files within that subdirectory should be permitted 644 as illustrated above.


If you are using an scp/SFTP client that allows you to set default permissions:

The 'chmod 644' command sets the file to be "readable and writable" by the owner of the account (typically: you), and readable by everybody else (this is so that the webserver can read the file to present it to the viewers of your page).

If you are using a graphical SFTP or scp client to upload your files that allows you to set permissions, set the software to transfer files with the permissions: owner: read/write, group: read, other: read; this is equivalent to setting the file to these permissions with the "chmod 644" command above.

Very often the software will also have an option to "set the executable bit for directories" or "Add X to directories" as well ("X" means the 'execuatble bit', so both phrases mean the same thing). Choose that option, and specify "user", "group" and "other" if the software provides that option. Selecting this option is equivalent to setting directories with the 'chmod 755' command described above.

This is an example of how the options might be presented in a typical graphical scp/SFTP client (this image is from the settings within WinSCP):