ECResearch is a network file server for Engineering faculty members, for storage of research data. Its use is primarily for backup purposes. Instructions for backing up various clients can be found here.
ECResearch (ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca) can be accessed a number of different ways, all requiring Nexus credentials for authentication:
- Via Microsoft's file sharing protocol, SMB/CIFS, from Windows, MacOS, Linux, Unix etc.
- Through Nextcloud, an open-source "dropbox"-like Web service, accessible through a browser or through an installed client application that synchronizes a selected folder. The synchronization client is available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, etc. Nextcloud also allows easy file sharing among Nextcloud users.
- Via NFS (network file system protocol) on Unix/Linux, available from on-campus computers only.
File size, type of computing device you use, and need for auto-synchronization of data among devices, are the determining factors for which of the above is the best method to use to access your data.
SMB/CIFS and NFS can accommodate larger file sizes and are fast. These methods do not auto-synchronize data between your computing devices and the server (unless you take additional steps). Certain devices such as phones and tablets may not support these methods (easily).
Nextcloud synchronizes data between a folder on your computer or mobile device and its corresponding folder on the ECResearch server. File transfer via Nextcloud provides easy-to-use access from anywhere over the Web, but is slower and may use expensive telephone data plans, depending on your device and its connection to the Internet. Therefore, the Nextcloud web service is not recommended for large files. We have set an initial storage quota of 10 GB through Nextcloud to prevent inadvertently filling up storage on small mobile devices, and inadvertent telephone data charges. This quota is consistent with other cloud storage services. We will, however, increase this quota on an individual request basis through firstname.lastname@example.org.
All three types of access to ECResearch, can be used simultaneously, from multiple locations, with a few caveats. For example, file locking on the server may interfere with simultaneous accesses.
Getting An Account on ECResearch
An automated process is not in place yet. Please submit an email to email@example.com (email is restricted to on-campus email systems only).
SMB/CIFS (Windows, MacOS, Linux/Unix)
Your home directory on ECResearch can be accessed at the network location: \\ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca\USERID
Under MacOS and Linux/Unix, you should use forward slashes (/) instead of backslashes (\) in the above network location.
Off-campus access is available if you install and run the VPN client from IST before establishing your SMB/CIFS connection. Quotas are enabled, currently at 1 TB per user (but are currently being reported incorrectly by the server).
In Windows, run Start/All Programs/Accessories/Windows Explorer. Then, under the Tools menu, select Map Network Drive. The folder location is \\ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca\USERID. From computers not in the Nexus domain, you will have to click the link "mount with different user creditials" and authenticate as nexus\USERID. Replace USERID in the above with your own UW user ID as show in WatIAM.
From the Windows command shell on a nexus domain windows computer, you can use (e.g.):
net use z:\\ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca\USERID
Select a drive letter of your choice and replace USERID in the above with your own UW user ID.
Under MacOS, use the Finder application to mount a remote server, specifying the network location as:
Replace USERID in the above with your own UW user ID.
You can also use the following command in a command shell (e.g.):
mkdir /Volumes/USERID mount_smbfs //USERID:firstname.lastname@example.org/USERID /Volumes/USERID
Replace USERID in the above with your own UW user ID.
Automounting can be done follow these instructions.
Under Linux/Unix there are a variety of methods to mount your ECResearch account. The simplest method is to use the SMB/CIFS protocol. The following command line instructions should work for all recent Linux/Unix distributions. Check that you have /sbin/mount.cifs available and if not under distributions like Ubuntu run the command 'sudo apt-get install cifs-utils' or just use the GUI.
First, you need to create a folder on your own computer as the mount point for your account on ECResearch:
Second, mount your ECResearch account to your local mount point. This steps requires administrator privileges attained through the "sudo" command, if installed and configured on your system:
sudo mount -t cifs -o user=USERID,domain=nexus,sec=ntlmssp,file_mode=0777,dir_mode=0777 //ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca/USERID ~LOCAL_USERID/mnt
Replace USERID in the above with your own UW user ID and LOCAL_USERID with your Linux account name. For newer versions of CIFS you may not need all these options, the important options (-o) are user and domain. If you have write problems as the user, you can instead specify the client uid if the client uid and server uid do not match (eg. -o uid=1000).
Most Linux distributions have a default file manager that provides a graphical user interface for mounting a "Windows" share via SMB/CIFS protocol. The folder location is: \\ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca\USERID (where USERID is replaced with your own WatIAM user ID). For authentication, specify the domain as NEXUS. We are aware that Ubuntu LTS 12.04 has a bug which causes authentication to fail, but later versions should work. The command line method should always work.
It is also possible to auto-mount your ECResearch account by modifying the fstab system file on your Linux system.
Nextcloud (Dropbox-style access)
Nextcloud has various desktop and mobile synchronization clients available (IOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux etc.). The Nextcloud server for ECResearch is accessed via the Web at https://ecresearch.uwaterloo.ca/nextcloud. Nextcloud has multiple capabilities provided through application programming interfaces (APIs), e.g. connections to other cloud storage services. Many have not been tested by Eng. Computing yet, so if problems occur please get back to us via engrt problem tracking.
Nextloud makes a copy of the data in all synchronized locations so make sure you have ample disk space and be prepared for a long wait on first synchronization, or for large files (depending upon your network connection speed). The default disk quota on ECResearch via Nextcloud is 10 GB. Once you are sure of the storage capacities of your devices and your network bandwidth and quotas, you can request an increase of your Nextcloud quota to suit your needs via engrt.
Nextcloud has its own database to keep track of files uploaded and downloaded and quotas, so accessing files placed on your ECResearch account via SMB/CIFS or NFS (which have a separate quota applied) can be problematic. You can allow Nextcloud to see files you've placed on ECResearch with SMB/CIFS or NFS and use Nextcloud to add and delete those files by using the Nextcloud user interface to mount an "external SMB/CIFS storage". To do this, log in to the Nextcloud Web interface for ECResearch and use the drop-down menu under your user ID in the top right corner, to select the Personal menu and the External Storage section. Choose a folder name that does not already exist in your Nextcloud Files view, then select SMB/CIFS from the "Add storage" drop-down menu. Note that Nextcloud now synchronizes your large SMB/CIFS storage space, so you will need to request a larger Nextcloud quota to do this.
Linking to Your Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.
As described above, you can use the External Storage tool in ECResearch's Nextcloud Web interface to link to your other cloud storage accounts as well. Be aware that by doing this you are duplicating the contents of those storage services onto your ECResearch account, and also synchronizing them to any mobile devices which are running an Nextcloud synchronization client. Be aware that by doing this, you may be running the risk of overwhelming the storage capacity of typical smart phones and tablets. Also be aware that encryption of files by Nextcloud on these external cloud storage services has been disabled so files can be accessed through their native interfaces.
NFS (On-campus persistent Linux/Unix connection)
NFS is the Unix/Linux Network File System. NFS-mounting your ECResearch account requires administrator access to your system and advanced knowledge of Linux/Unix. NFS v4, including access control lists (ACLs) for sharing files, is natively supported on ECResearch (by the server's ZFS file system). However user and group ID (UID/GID) mapping is required. Your UID and GIDs assigned by Engineering Computing can be accessed anonymously on campus via the lookup service ldap.nexus.uwaterloo.ca.