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Secure Copy (SCP) and Secure FTP (SFTP) are used to securely transfer files between two hosts using the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol.

Suggested for smaller files (<~10GB)


SCP and SFTP are available on all NERSC systems.


To transfer files into/out of NERSC using SCP or SFTP, you need a SSH client:

  • Linux/Unix/Cygwin: command ssh, scp or sftp
  • Windows: Many GUI tools such as WinSCP
  • MacOS: Command-line tools ssh, scp or  sftp.  Many GUI tools such as FileZilla


All example commands below are executed on your local machine, not the NERSC machine:

The scp command

Get a file from Data Transfer Node

scp /local/path

Send a file to Data Transfer Node

scp /loca/path/myfile.txt

Using tar+ssh

When you want to transfer many small files in a directory, you can consider using ssh piped with tar.

Send a directory to Data Transfer Node:

tar cz /loca/path/dirname | ssh tar zxv -C /remote/path

Get a directory from Data Transfer Node:

ssh tar cz /remote/path/dirname | tar zxv -C /local/path

Using the GUI SFTP Clients

Simply login to your favorite GUI SFTP Client with your NIM username and password. Then Drag and Drop files.

Pros and Cons


  • Simple to use.  No extra credential needed.
  • SCP provides good status information when transferring
  • Encrypted by default


  • Does not provide turing options for WAN transfers
  • Does not support parallel transfer
  • Slower comparing to bbcp/GridFTP, only suggested for small files (or a bundle of small files)