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How to Use SFTP to Secure File Transfer with a Remote Server
In this article, you can learn about – how to setup SFTP (Secured File Transfer Protocol) which will help us to transfer the files from local machine to remote server secure. FTP (File Transfer protocol) is a very popular method used to transfer files from one machine to another or from remote servers.
SFTP stands for Secure File Transfer protocol, is a separate protocol, which uses SSH to secure the connection and makes the file transfer which traverses the file system on both remote server & local machine.
How to Connect using SFTP
SFTP uses the SSH protocol to connect and establish a secure connection to authenticate. Although passwords are very easy to use and set the default, we recommend to create SSH keys and copy the public key to any system that needed to access. This not only secures the connection, but also helps to save some time in long runs.
Before we go further in using SFTP we needed to set up ssh access to remote machines without using any password.
Creating SSH Keys
# ssh-keygen -t rsa Generating public/private rsa key pair. Enter file in which to save the key (/root/.ssh/id_rsa): Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): Enter same passphrase again: Your identification has been saved in /root/.ssh/id_rsa. Your public key has been saved in /root/.ssh/id_rsa.pub. The key fingerprint is: 71:de:c6:b4:c4:8b:31:70:5f:bd:96:60:56:8e:74:b9 root@centos The key's randomart image is: +--[ RSA 2048]----+ | . . .o+.| | o o.=+..| | . + B...+| | + O o E | | S o * . | | . | | | | | | | +-----------------+ For security the key itself is a protected using a strong passphrase, if a passphrase is used to protect their key, the SSH-agent can be used to cache the passphrase.
Now we needed to copy the ssh-key to the remote host
# ssh-copy-id email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org's password: Now try logging into the machine, with "ssh 'email@example.com'", and check in: .ssh/authorized_keys To make sure we haven't added extra keys that you weren't expecting.
To test the connection, please login to the remote server using ssh
# ssh firstname.lastname@example.org Last login: Fri Apr 15 15:18:42 2016 from 192.168.1.125
Then exit from the server and connect to the server using SFTP
# sftp email@example.com Connecting to 192.168.1.89... sftp>
Then the prompt changes from # to sftp>
Simple Commands to Know the Environment
To know the present working directory on remote server
sftp>pwd Remote working directory: /root
List the files and folders on the remote server
sftp>ls Desktop Documents Downloads Music Pictures Public Templates Videos
To print the local machine working directory
Local working directory: /root
To list the local machine files
Transferring Remote Files to Local Machine
sftp> get <remote file >
sftp> get pdfflyer.sql Fetching /root/pdfflyer.sql to pdfflyer.sql /root/pdfflyer.sql 100% 1765KB 1.7MB/s 00:01
This will copy the remote file to the local machine in the present working directory
sftp> get <remotefile> <localfile>
This will copy the remote file to the present working directory with rename to different name which we specified in the command <local file>
sftp>get -r <Directory>
To copy a directory recursively with all the files and folders in the <Directory> we can use ‘-r’ option
Transfer Local files to Remote Machine
General Syntax: sftp> put <localfile> Usage: sftp> put svn_backup.sh Uploading svn_backup.sh to /root/svn_backup.sh svn_backup.sh 100% 489 0.5KB/s 00:00 sftp>
Copy the local files recursively to the remote server we can use ‘-r’ option.
sftp> put -r <Local directory>
Simple File Manipulations with SFTP
SFTP allows you to perform all types of basic file maintenance that are useful when working with the file system. We can get the files from remote machine and see the files in local machine by simply adding ! In front of a command.
sftp> get /etc/passwd sftp> !less passwd root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/bash bin:x:1:1:bin:/bin:/sbin/nologin daemon:x:2:2:daemon:/sbin:/sbin/nologin adm:x:3:4:adm:/var/adm:/sbin/nologin lp:x:4:7:lp:/var/spool/lpd:/sbin/nologin sync:x:5:0:sync:/sbin:/bin/sync shutdown:x:6:0:shutdown:/sbin:/sbin/shutdown halt:x:7:0:halt:/sbin:/sbin/halt mail:x:8:12:mail:/var/spool/mail:/sbin/nologin uucp:x:10:14:uucp:/var/spool/uucp:/sbin/nologin operator:x:11:0:operator:/root:/sbin/nologin games:x:12:100:games:/usr/games:/sbin/nologin gopher:x:13:30:gopher:/var/gopher:/sbin/nologin ftp:x:14:50:FTP User:/var/ftp:/sbin/nologin nobody:x:99:99:Nobody:/:/sbin/nologin dbus:x:81:81:System message bus:/:/sbin/nologin usbmuxd:x:113:113:usbmuxd user:/:/sbin/nologin vcsa:x:69:69:virtual console memory owner:/dev:/sbin/nologin rpc:x:32:32:Rpcbind Daemon:/var/cache/rpcbind:/sbin/nologin ......
To list the local groups we can run the command by adding ! At the beginning.
sftp>!less /etc/group root:x:0: bin:x:1:bin,daemon daemon:x:2:bin,daemon sys:x:3:bin,adm adm:x:4:adm,daemon tty:x:5: disk:x:6: lp:x:7:daemon mem:x:8: kmem:x:9: wheel:x:10: ....
There is no command for manipulating a local file permissions, but you can set the local umask, so that any files copied to the local system will have the appropriate permissions.
That can be done with the “lumask” command:
sftp>lumask 022 Local umask: 022
SFTP allows you to create directories on both remote and local machines with “lmkdir” and “mkdir”.
To exit from the SFTP session, use “exit” or “bye” to close the connection.
After this we know how to transfer the files from local machine to remote machine using SFTP, which is a simple tool but very powerful for transferring the files between the remote server and local machine.
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