Using SSH File Transfer Software on MS-Windows

From BingWiki
Jump to: navigation, search

About Secure File Transfer Clients

  • A Secure File Transfer client is used for moving files between computers (commonly your PC and a University Unix Server).
  • BU distributes SSH client software from The SSH software uses sftp (secure file transfer protocol) to move files between computer systems. The protocol is called secure because file information is encrypted while transferred between machines.
  • An sftp client is very similar in function to an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client (for more information on FTP at BU, go to – enter keyword: ftp). While FTP is available on many Unix systems, it often relies on several commands entered on a command line interface in order to perform the file transfer. Unlike FTP, SSH has a graphical user interface that allows you to click on menu options and buttons for moving files rather than entering FTP commands on a command line.
  • The SSH Secure File Transfer client is called a ‘client’ because it is software that will run usefully on your PC only when your PC is connected to a server (another machine that serves multiple users).
  • Typical Secure File Transfer operations include connecting to a remote computer, listing files and directories, and copying files from one system to another.

The SSH Secure File Transfer Client

SSH can be installed from BU’s B.U.I.C.K. Internet CD available from the Computing Services Help Desk or can be downloaded from It is also available (freely for academic use) from the vendor at

What You Need To Know Before Connecting

To connect to a remote computer, such as StatMart, you need three pieces of information: userID, password, and host name.

  • UserID is your login ID for the machine or system you want to connect to. (If you do not know what your StatMart userID is, contact the Help Desk at 777-6420.)
  • Password is your password for the machine or system you want to connect to. Your SatMart password is different and completely separate from other passwords commonly used on the BU campus for e-mail, Pod authentication, and so on. (If you need help understanding your BU computing passwords, go to, click on Documentation and enter the keyword passwords. (If you have forgotten a password, you’ll need to bring your University ID card to the Help Desk to get a new password.)
  • Host Name/Address is the name or address of the computer to which you want to connect. The StatMart host address is

Using SSH to Establish a Connection to StatMart

Verify that the SSH client is installed by locating the SSH Secure File Transfer icon. This is located either on your desktop or on the Start button/Programs menu under SSH Secure Shell.

Note: The Secure Shell Client
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination
is also used to connect to a remote Unix machine (and works closely with the File Transfer client), but the shell client is not used for moving files between machines.
  1. Double click the Secure File Transfer icon.
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination

You’ll see a screen similar to the one below, except the file display area on the right will be empty until you’re connected.

Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination

This window has several functional components that you may use:

  • Toolbar
  • Profile Bar
  • File Display Area
  • Menu items (File, Edit, View…) listed at the top can also be used to execute commands.

The Toolbar includes all of the actions you’ll use after you have connected to StatMart. The most important of these, the Upload and Download buttons (near the center of the bar) are dimmed (as in the screen above) if a connection has not yet been established. View option buttons affect the display of files (large/small icons, list and detail) in the File Display Area. To the right of these are buttons for preparing to do binary or ascii transfers of files (discussed below.)

The Profile Bar is critical for connecting to StatMart (and other remote servers.) Profiles store host and user information for re-establishing connections that you frequently use. It is most useful when you use SSH to connect to several different remote servers and/or to log into individual Unix machines under different login IDs.

The File Display Area shows you a list of folders and files for two machines — your local machine (your PC) and the remote machine (the Unix server you connect to). The display area is used for setting and exploring a current/active folder for each machine. Navigation toolbars are at the top of each machine’s (local and remote) display area. These tool bars are quite similar to a number of popular browser toolbars.

  1. Click on Quick Connect on the Profile Bar.
  2. In the dialog window that appears,
Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination

enter for Host Name, your StatMart userID for User Name, leave 22 as the Port Number, and choose Password as your Authentication Method.

  1. Click on Connect.
  2. After clicking through possible System Administrator warnings or notes windows (clicking OK in these), you’ll be asked for your StatMart password. Type in your StatMart password and click on OK or press <Enter>. You will now be connected to Statmart (as displayed in the status area at the bottom of the SSH window).
  3. If a terminal window opens up (showing a single panel of plain text) instead of the more elaborate file transfer window with two panels, click on the New File Transfer button of the Toolbar (just to the left of the cog/Settings button). A single connection is established for both File transfer and direct terminal command line interaction with the remote server.
  4. Note: Multiple terminal (Shell) and File Transfer windows can be opened after connecting.

Saving an SSH Profile

Don't bother doing this at first unless you plan to log into several different Unix machines.

Connecting to StatMart Using a Stored SSH Profile

Listing Files and Directories

For each machine (your local PC on the left) and the remote server (on the right of the File Display area) you will see files and folders in a display that functions much like a browser or Windows explorer. Buttons directly above each panel and the view options can affect what actually appears on your screen (which may be left-over settings from the previous time someone used the SSH client). It’s best to work with each panel as simple (singular) display of files and folders, so if the Show Folders button is depressed click on it so that the panels show only a single list of files for each machine rather than a more complex display.

Error creating thumbnail: Unable to save thumbnail to destination

1. To work with files in a different folder, just double click on the folder.

Note: If the folders or files you are interested in are not visible you may need to navigate to them using the tool bars directly above each panel. It may be helpful or necessary to go directly to a particular folder directly and manually by typing the full path to the folder in the active folder area or as described below. Navigation tools and concepts of a file hierarchy will not be discussed here as they are used widely used for both Unix and windows and may be documented and discussed elsewhere.

To work with files or folders that are not a part of your home directory, use the Goto Folder Operation, to jump (directly and manually) to most other directories on the machine.

For example, to go to the data area on StatMart press Ctrl-G (Goto folder) or click on the menu command /Operation/Go to Folder

Note: Folder (directory names) are case-sensitive on Unix; type them exactly as shown.

Or you may type the desired active directory directly in the Active Folder area of the right panel’s navigation toolbar (for the remote machine).

To go to the COMPUSTAT area type, /data/COMPUSTAT for the folder name and click OK or press enter.

Copying (Uploading and Downloading) Files

To download a file:

Other proper transfer modes are indicated in the table below.

File type

Transfer mode

.CSV (Comma Delimited)

ASCII - Excel can read and can create (via the Save as … option) such files. They are, in essence, plain text unlike .XLS files


ASCII (usually, though some applications do produce Binary data and use the .DAT extension)



.DOC (Word documents)


.WPD (WordPerfect documents)




.SAS (SAS programs)


.SAS7BDAT (SAS datasets)*


.SAV (SPSS datasets)*


.SPO (SPSS output)


.SPS (SPSS programs)


.TXT (Plain text, Notepad)


.XLS (Excel Spreadsheets)


.XPT (SAS transport files)




* and other data formats (Minitab, Matlab, Eviews…)

(usually) Binary

To upload a file:

Additional Information