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Central File Server: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Central File Server: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


OIT provides 5GB of personal server storage space on the Central File Server for each University computing account (students in Class of 2017 and beyond will be receiving 500MB of Central File Server space). If you often use computers from multiple locations, the Central File Server is a great way to share, move, and store files. You can use your personal space to store your important files so that they are accessible to you from any computer connected to the network.

OIT also provides folders for departmental file sharing, cross-departmental file sharing, and a software download folder on the Central File Server.

How can I access my personal files on the Central File Server?
Most people find that mapping their H: drive is the easiest and most intuitive way to "see" their files on the Central File Server. Drag and drop methods of moving files from your computer to your H: drive becomes second nature. The bullets below link to instruction on how to map your H: drive on different computing platforms.

  • Students who connect to the Princeton domain on their Windows computers automatically map their H: drive to the Central File Server during the log in process. Logging in to the clusters computers also automatically maps your H: drive.
  • All Windows computer users can access their server space on the Central File Server easily. Map your H: Drive to the Central File Server so that you automatically connect each time you start your computer. See Solution 9347 for instruction. To join the Princeton Windows domain, see
  • If you use a Mac computer running OS X, you can use Samba technology to connect to your H: drive and access your folder on the Central File Server. See Solution 9268 for instruction.
  • Linux and Unix users, please see Solution 8986 for instruction.
  • Protocols such as Secure Shell (SSH) and Secure FTP (SFTP) are other options for using and transferring files to the Central File Server. See for more information.

How can I access my departmental files (M: drive) on the Central File Server?
To connect to your departmental files and folders on the Central File Server (often called your M: drive), see Solution 9511.

How can I access the Shares folder on the Central File Server?
To information regarding usage and instruction on how to connect to the Shares folder, please see Solution 5849.

Why should I store my files on the Central File Server?
Most users find that there is no longer the need to back up an entire hard drive. Operating systems and application software are extremely space intensive, and backing up a computer's contents can be time consuming. Should your computer malfunction, the re-installation of a clean operating system and application software is most often required, making full hard drive backups unnecessary. The files that you should back up and protect are the ones that are your intellectual property; the work that if lost would cause distress. Back up your intellectual property (including your papers, thesis, problem sets and class work) on the Central File Server so that disaster can be averted.

What files should I store on the Central File Server?
For a detailed discussion of data to be backed up from your personal computer and what you should be concerned with as your intellectual property, please see Solution 9690.

Can I publish web pages using the Central File Server?
Yes. Your public_html folder within your account on the Central File Server has permissions set to be world readable -- just place your .htm and .html files inside this folder to create your personal web site. It's easy to map your Central File Server personal folder as your H: drive, and save your web pages to the public_html folder within. Your web address, or URL to access your site, would be

How can I connect to the Central File Server from off campus?
If you are off-campus and connecting to the Internet through your personal Internet Service Provider, you will need to make a VPN connection to the University before accessing the Central File Server. See Solution 6023 for information about Virtual Private Networking (VPN). You can also use Secure SSH or Secure FTP technology described at:

How to restore files using the ~snapshot folder
The Central File Server provides a backup service using snapshot technology. Every 2 hours your files are imaged and retained on the server in the event that you accidentally delete, overwrite, lose, or corrupt a file. If you are saving your intellectual property to the Central File Server, you can restore files yourself. See the instructions within Solution 9679.

Setting permissions using Access Control Lists (ACLs)
Windows computer users can alter the permissions on their personal folder using Access Control Lists (ACLs) through a graphical user interface. See the instructions within Solution 9680.

How can I check my storage usage (quota) and request more space?
If you have mapped your Central File Server account to your H: Drive as documented above, Windows computer users can right-click on their H: drive, pull down to Properties... and see free versus used space within their account. All users can see their quota totals using the Quota Checker web page. You can request more quota by using the online form at

Note that quota is determined by adding up the space used by all the files owned by your netID. If you own files which are located in anyone else's home directory, those files will count against your quota as well. Example would be files you create in a coursework directory or a public_html directory for a departmental account.

Last Updated:
May 6, 2013

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