Bits & Bytes online Edition

The evolution of the Anonymous FTP server and data sharing at MPCDF

John Alan Kennedy

After many years in service the anonymous FTP server at the MPCDF ( has been upgraded to a modern host system. Although the server remains available, there have been some slight modifications to the system and users are also advised to use the MPCDF Datashare service in future to solve data sharing use cases.

The major modifications to the ftp service are:

    1. The FTP server is now restricted to pure anonymous mode.
    2. Users with MPCDF accounts are now required to use the more secure SFTP protocol.

This means that anonymous users can still access the FTP server to anonymously upload/download data, but users who wish to access with an MPCDF account, and thus control which data may be shared, are now required to use the more secure SFTP protocol.

The FTP server will remain in service and provides a tried and tested means of sharing data with anonymous external users. However, as we mentioned earlier, the new Datashare service can also be used to cover the core use cases, and we will highlight these below.

The two major use cases are:

    1. Sharing data with Anonymous external users (outgoing data)
    2. Data upload from Anonymous external users (incoming data)

The MPCDF FTP server solves these use cases by allowing anonymous access to the server for data upload, but dictating that data for download must be managed by MPCDF users, which now use the SFTP protocol.

These use cases can equally be covered by the MPCDF Datashare service which now allows password protected links to be created for anonymous upload (dropbox like function) and sharing. The benefit of using the Datashare system is that it allows more granularity w.r.t. data management. A user can create different links for different datasets and share them with different external collaborators.

For more information see the following links for Anonymous FTP and Datashare