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I need to transfer files (lots of small ones) between several systems that are not on a LAN and so end up carrying a flash drive. IMHO not really much of a hassle these days.
Your laptop will probably have to stay on. With a dynamic IP site like dyndns.com you can get a URL which automatically is updated when your IP changes. Be sure to check on your school's security policy.
Transferring files over ssh is a better idea then FTP.
I concur with the above post, in that in certain situations, SneakerNet is a really efficient solution, and this sounds like one of them. Depending on how big and how many files you'd need, a USB stick or an external HDD would do the trick.
Otherwise, rather than running FTP transfers that would run forever, I'd say it makes a lot more sense to dedicate one machine to be the app server, which you then remote into from the other. So if the home machine is going to be the server, set that up so you can ssh into it from school. Though to be honest, I'd think a good school ought to be offering some server space, which you can then remote into from both your home and school clients, so that might be worth checking into.
As an alternative to FTP, you may want to consider rsync or one of the variants to mirror the data between your sites. Once the initial seed is mirrored, it will only have to transfer over changed portions and can be pretty efficient. If configured properly, this can be far more secure than FTP, also.
Last edited by tblu; 09-13-2011 at 04:34 PM.
Transferring several GBs of data over ftp wouldn't be advisable, mainly due to the bandwidth that you will need and the really long time it will take to transfer those files. You would need a really fast connection and there is a change the ftp session would get interrupted.
Your better bet is using a USB Pen drive or an external hard drive that you would carry around.
If you still go with the ftp server route, you will need to have your laptop on all the time, and you will need to use dyndns.org to be able to reach your laptop (since your public ip will be changing). You will also need to setup your router to allow incoming connections to your ftp server.
Are you using Windows or linux at school?
Nautilus has a built in sftp client which allows you to copy files via ssh.
WinSCP is a windows SFTP client.
rsync allows you to synchronize files between locations while min file transfer.
Unison is similar to rsync but can run on both windows and linux.
For this situation, a big thumb drive or external hard drive would probably be the easiest method of transferring those files. Just keep them on the thumb drive, and MAKE SURE you actually do the "Safely Remove" option before unplugging the drive. It's rare, but I have had thumb drives get corrupt because I didn't properly unmount them before unplugging them.
The amount of bandwidth necessary to download files of several GB though would be crazy, at least if you want to download them in a reasonable amount of time. On top of that, most commercial internet services have pretty slow upload speeds. You may have 20 Mbps download, but your upload will probably only be 3-4 Mbps, so anything downloaded from your server from outside your house would be capped at your allotted upload speed. You'd spend most of your class time downloading the files. Also, to answer one question, yes, the laptop would have to be left on in order for its FTP service to remain available. You would also have to make sure that the ports (default 21) were forwarded to the laptop from your router.
If you want to run an FTP server though, the server OS you run doesn't really matter. FTP is a pretty standard protocol across all systems. If you're going to set up a server and you want to do it with Linux, I recommend using the latest stable version of Debian (www.debian.org). It's got a pretty straight-forward installation, it stays pretty stable because the guys at Debian use "testing" and "unstable" versions for all of their bleeding edge stuff, and leave the "stable" release alone except for thoroughly tested updates, and they don't do major OS upgrades every 6 months. During the install there's even a checklist for things you want to install. If you pick "FTP Server" it installs proftpd. You can then install the package gadmin-proftpd to make managing the server stupid simple.
Attached is a screenshot of gadmin-proftpd. I do most of my server management over SSH, even when I'm at home. The server is actually tucked away and hidden in the bottom of my entertainment center,
Last edited by dudeman41465; 09-15-2011 at 10:54 PM.