Materials Fileserver

The Department of Materials provides central file storage for all individual members of Department. In addition the Department can provide shared file storage for groups. Guidelines about how to get an account and how to access the fileservers are given below.

Any queries about this service should be directed to itsupport@materials.ox.ac.uk.

How can I get a Department account?

How can I get a Department account?

A Department account is required to access the Department Fileserver and to authenticate to Department printers.

If you have not already received your Department account details contact itsupport@materials.ox.ac.uk.

All members of the Department of Materials are eligible for a Department Account. It is also possible for other university members and external collaborators to have accounts. New students are automatically given Department Accounts as part of the student induction process each October. Other new members obtain their Department Accounts on an ad-hoc basis by contacting IT staff (often in response to the Welcome email sent to all new members of Department).

Department Account usernames are the same as University SSO usernames so that in future it may be possible to integrate the Department system with the University Single Sign On system, however currently passwords are not synchronized between OUCS run services and Departmental services.

All users must have a unique username as per the University Regulations Relating to the use of Information Technology Facilities, item 6. If groups of users need to share files, then this can be achieved by the creation of a shared storage area. Shared user accounts are not be allowed.

How can I choose a password?

How can I choose a password?

Although the username is the same as your university username, the passwords are not synchronized between University services and Departmental services and users are recommended to use different passwords on Departmental and University systems.

Department passwords expire after 12 months. You will receive automatic email reminders to change your password online via https://pwm.materials.ox.ac.uk/pwm (see below).

Password restrictions are:

  • Must be at least 6 characters in length
  • Must include:
    • Uppercase letter (A-Z)
    • Lowercase letter (a-z)
    • Digit (0-9)
  • Can optionally include Punctuation (&,'^"[]+-etc).
  • Must be a dictionary word or name.
  • Must be different from your username.
  • Must not be one of your most five recent passwords.

These restrictions are similar but not identical to the requirements of your university SSO password.

How can I set/reset my password when using a Novell client?

How can I set/reset my password when using a Novell client?

Users with a computer running the Novell client can change their password at any time by pressing Ctl-Alt-Del and selecting “Change Password”.

If your password has already expired and you successfully login using the expired password you will automatically be forced to change your password. Your new password must conform to the Password Selection Policy. If there are six failed login attempts then your account will be locked and you will need to contact IT support staff to request a forgotten password reset.

Note that the Change Password dialogue box allows you to select which resource you wish to change – the computer icon refers to the local system and the tree icon refers to the network account. Please only select the network account when changing your Department Account password.

Good security practices would be to have separate password for the local system and for network authentication. In the event that either account is compromised the attacker is then limited to accessing that resource only.

The Novell password change system does not inform the user about the acceptable password rules - see the password requirements in the previous section above.

novell security dialogue novell change password dialogue

How can I set/reset my password online?

How can I set/reset my password online?

pwm change password  system


If you know your old password visit  https://pwm.materials.ox.ac.uk/pwm 

If you do not know your password anymore or if the account has expired and you are unable to reset the password yourself via PWM then please contact IT staff who will set a temporary password for you.

The PWM system provides feedback about the acceptability of the new password while you are typing. For example the image shows that the password is rated as weak and has been typed correctly twice -green tick - but overall the pink highlight line says that it "does not have enough upper case letters" and thus is not acceptable)

How can I make use of the Department Fileserver?

How can I make use of the Department Fileserver?

The Department of Materials provides central file storage for all individual members of Department. The system is designed to be secure, backed-up and resilient against hardware failures.

The fileserver is typically used as:

  • secure storage of important files (disk capacity is not sufficient to store all data files for everyone!)
  • group shared storage areas (e.g. sharing between group members)
  • transient storage for file transfers (e.g. data acquisition pc -> fileserver -> user desktop/laptop )
  • support for department facilities (e.g. teaching laboratory, lecture rooms and meeting rooms, etc.)
  • support for departmental administrative computers

How can I access my files – using Windows File-sharing on a windows pc? (Department network only)

How can I access my files – using Windows File-sharing on a windows pc? (Department network only)


There are several methods for connecting to the fileserver using Windows File-sharing. Note that the department firewall blocks in-coming Windows File-sharing connections so the following methods will only work when connected to the Department's wired network. Also note, browsing via Network Neighbourhood will not work.

Student Personal Files:

Connect to \\FILES_STUDENT\STUDENT

Non-student Personal Files:

Connect to \\FILES_STAFF\STAFF

Shared Group Files:

Connect to \\FILES_GROUP1\GROUP1
Connect to \\FILES_GROUP2\GROUP2
Connect to \\FILES_FIMGROUP\FIMGROUP
Connect to \\FILES_FIMLEAP\FIMLEAP

It is important to note that, for example, a Windows connection to \\FILES_STAFF\ may show GROUP1 as well as STAFF, however connecting to GROUP1 by this method is not supported. If you need to access group files you must connect to \\FILES_GROUP1\GROUP1 or \\FILES_GROUP2\GROUP2 or \\FILES_FIMGROUP\FIMGROUP or \\FILES_FIMLEAP\FIMLEAP as appropriate.

i) From a command window:

To open a command prompt on Windows goto: All programs - Accessories - Command Prompt or got to 'Run' and type 'cmd' in the box that pops up.

The images below show an example connection to account ‘username’ in the STUDENT container on the server called FILES_STUDENT which results in the file store being mounted as the Z: drive.

cmd window FILES_STUDENT mounted

If your password is rejected it will prompt you to login again. If your login continues to be rejected, check whether you can access your files via another method (e.g. SecureShell or Netstorage). If your password is rejected by all methods you need to contact IT staff and request a password reset.

ii) From the Run command (Ctrl R):

The images below show an example connection to account ‘username’ in the STUDENT container on the server called FILES_STUDENT which results in the file store being mounted under network neighbourhood (without a drive letter).

run window run login windows shareIf your password is rejected it will prompt you to login again. If your login continues to be rejected, check whether you can access your files via another method (e.g. SecureShell or Netstorage). If your password is rejected by all methods you need to contact IT staff and request a password reset.

iii) In windows Explorer under Tools, Map Network Drive:

The images below show an example connection to account ‘username’ in the STUDENT container on the server called FILES_STUDENT which results in the file store being mounted as the Z: drive.

map drive login prompt windows drive

If your password is rejected it will prompt you to login again. If your login continues to be rejected, check whether you can access your files via another method (e.g. SecureShell or Netstorage). If your password is rejected by all methods you need to contact IT staff and request a password reset.

How can I access my files – using Secure Shell client on a windows pc? (from anywhere)

How can I access my files – using Secure Shell client on a windows pc? (from anywhere)

Secure Shell client software is available such as WinSCP or  Mobaxterm

Connect to host materials2.materials.ox.ac.uk with your username then enter your password. (connection uses port 22 and the authentication method should be "password")

SSH Icon SSH login prompt SSH password prompt

If this is the first time to connect to materials2.materials.ox.ac.uk the SecureShell client will ask what to do with the new encryption key. It is usual to answer “Yes” to save the key so that in future the software can warn you if the public key received differs to the saved key (possibly indicating a man-in-the-middle attack or maybe just a reboot of the server). If you receive a warning that a key has changed please consider checking with IT staff that it is OK to proceed.

Secure Shell HostID prompt

After successful connection you are presented with the line command terminal window (below left). The yellow folder toolbar icon can be used to open the secure file transfer window (below right). The file transfer window allows you to drag&drop files from the local computer (left pane) into your HOME directory on the fileserver (right pane) or vice versa.

SSH command line SSH File Transfer

Please do not save anything in the root directory of this connection. (There is a 10 MegaByte limit).
Personal files will be accessible under HOME.
Group files will be accessible under either GROUP1, GROUP2, FIMGROUP or FIMLEAP

If your password is rejected you will be prompted for a “LDAP password”. Click cancel and try to login again. If your login continues to be rejected, check whether you can access your files via another method (e.g. Windows Filesharing or Netstorage). If your login continues to be rejected then you need to contact IT staff and request a password reset.

How can I access my files – using NetStorage webpage? (from anywhere)

How can I access my files – using NetStorage webpage? (from anywhere)

NetStorage is a web interface for accessing your files - https://netstorage.materials.ox.ac.uk/netstorage. Note that there are some browser compatibility issues - upload does not work correctly using Chrome.

Netstorage Login Netstorage Files

After login, the webpage shows the file hierarchy similar to usual. The internal menus can be used in conjunction with the tickboxes beside each object to perform actions like upload or download. Whilst uploading multiple files using this method requires lots of clicking as each file has to be individually selected, like using web mail to attach files, downloading multiple files is somewhat quicker as multiple selections are possible from the same web page and the system zips the files for a single transfer.

If your password is rejected it will prompt you to login again. If your login continues to be rejected, check whether you can access your files via another method (e.g. Windows File-sharing or Secure Shell). If your login continues to be rejected then you need to contact IT staff and request a password reset.

How can I access my files from a Mac?

How can I access my files from a Mac?

Mac computer can connect to the department fileserver using windows file-sharing when on the department network. Mac users should use “Connect to Server” under the Go menu.

For an example account ‘username’ in the STUDENT container on the server called FILES_STUDENT

Mac Windows File-sharing Mac Windows File-sharing login Mac Windows File-sharing

Mac and linux/unix computers all have secure shell (ssh) software available via the line command interface. Mac users should open the Terminal program under Applications:Utilities.
Connect to materials2.materials.ox.ac.uk [not materials7].

Mac Terminal

Although file transfers are possible using the line command interface (e.g. using scp and sftp) it is more usual for Mac users to download and install free software called Cyberduck (http://cyberduck.ch/) which provides graphical drag&drop secure file transfer.

Mac Cyberduck Login Mac Cyberduck Fileview

Mac and linux/unix computers can also use the NetStorage web interface. https://netstorage.materials.ox.ac.uk/netstorage.

Mac Netstorage Login Mac Netstorage Files

The internal menus can be used in conjunction with the tickboxes beside each object to perform actions like upload or download.

How can I access my group shared storage area?

How can I access my group shared storage area?

Contact itsupport@materials.ox.ac.uk if you need to be given access to shared group storage.

There are currently two group containers (called GROUP1 and GROUP2) each of which contain lots of different group shared storage areas. You will only see listed the group shared storage areas that you can access.

A group shared storage area contains folders for each group member plus a folder called “Shared”. All group members have read/write access to “Shared” and read/write access to their own personal folders, however group members only have read access to the folders of the other group members.

Below shows examples of accessing files as account “username” which also has access to a group shared storage area called “teststandard” which is in the GROUP1 container. The account “username” can only read files stored in the “teststaff” and “testret” folders which are owned by those respective users.

Example of accessing shared group storage via Windows File-sharing line command:

Cmd Text Group Cmd Mounted Group

How can I have more fileserver disk storage space?

How can I have more fileserver disk storage space?

Any requests for more disk space should be directed to itsupport@materials.ox.ac.uk. The default disk space allocated to new users is dependent on university status and is shown below. Users can requests more disk space (Level2) by contacting IT staff. If further space is required a levy may be charged, essentially to pay for the extra hard disks that would be required.

  Default (Level1) (Gb) Level 2 (Gb) Level 3 (Gb)
senmen 2 5 20
staff 1 5 15
postgrad 1 5 10
visitor 1 5 15
external 1 5 15

Also, if a shared group area is required this can also be supplied, again a cost may be incurred. Please contact IT Support if this required.

Problem solving tips

Problem solving tips

Login problems
If your login is repeatedly rejected, check whether you can access your files via another method (e.g. Windows Filesharing or Netstorage). If your login continues to be rejected then you need to contact IT staff and request a password reset.
Your Department Account password must be changed annually. You should receive email notifications leading up to the expiry date. When you receive a notification that your password needs changing you should change your password or risk being locked out.

File transfer problems
Filenames have limitations in terms of characters and length. Windows does not accept filenames containing [ ] \ / = + < > : ; " , * . and linux does not accept filenames containing /
Users are recommended to avoid using spaces, $, % and hyphens. The length of filename is also limited for the full directory path therefore very long folder names or deeply nested folders can cause problems.
If you run out of disk space then the file transfer will fail. This means that if you are doing a large file transfer do not make the assumption that all the files have been successfully transferred – check before deleting the local copy!

File permission problem
The department fileserver uses Novell's NSS filesystem. This has advantages of a short mounting time and an extensive set of file and directory attributes. These attributes give much more control and granularity to controlling access to the file system. However, it does mean that the normal *nix attributes are no longer applicable.