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AFS for Beginners

To increase security and reduce risk, Stanford is sunsetting its WebAFS service that is used to upload and download files to AFS.

To optimize AFS and make sure it is serving its intended functions, UIT has also taken these actions:

  • UIT no longer automatically provisions new faculty and staff members with AFS user volumes. New faculty or staff who need a personal user volume must submit a Help request.
    • This change does not impact existing AFS directories or the process for adding permissions for new individuals to those existing directories. Your existing space and everything in it remains intact.
    • This change does not impact the auto-provisioning of new AFS user volumes for students and postdocs.

​Class volumes do not expire and are kept indefinitely. This is an official academic policy, and any change to this policy must be considered by the Faculty Senate.


These pages will tell you how to use AFS for moving, storing, and securing your online information. Once you become comfortable with the basics, you can expand your repertoire by visiting the Learning more about AFS pages.

Accessing AFS

There are many different ways to access AFS. You can access AFS directly from any computer with a web browser and Internet connection, from a public workstation, or from the convenience of your desktop computer. The method you choose depends a lot on what you want to do.

If you want to move files on your desktop machines into or out of AFS (very common with web files), take a look at the file transfer site. In order to secure the directories (basically just folders) that hold your files, so that only certain people can access your AFS files, you'll have to access AFS from the Web, log into the Stanford UNIX System, or mount AFS on your desktop. Here's a quick overview of the different ways you can access AFS:

Working in AFS

Although a lot of AFS's structure can be guessed by the way URLs are displayed in web browsers, there are actually a few things you need to know first, especially the commands that let you move around, so you can successfully navigate AFS to get your work done. You have a SUNet ID so you already have a starting point in AFS: the UNIX account you received when your SUNet ID was activated gives you a "home directory" in AFS. You'll want to know how to set permissions on your directories, using Access Control Lists (ACLs), so you can allow people into your directories or keep them out. Most people use their home directory for serving web pages, and this involves transferring files into and out of AFS space. The more you files you put in AFS, the more disk space you'll use, so it's important to know how to manage disk space.

How to get more disk space

Personal AFS: Submit a Help request to increase personal AFS disk space. New faculty and staff members are no longer auto-provisioned with AFS user volumes, but can submit a Help request if a personal AFS user volume is needed.

Group/Department AFS: Submit a Help request to increase group or department AFS disk space with details about the amount and use of requested additional space.

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Last modified March 21, 2024