bulk transfer

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UAB has an Enterprise contract with, which is currently in BETA.

This page describes what we have learned about doing bulk-transfers of data.


Warning: size limitations claims to have a 5G max filesize limit

  • Now 15G max filesize (2/18/016; private email), but "that file size limit is still considered to be in a beta phase"

There was a rumor this would be increased in early 2016. Offically, this is all we know:

If you need to work around this, you can use the Linux "split" utility

# chop file into 4G pieces

split \
--bytes=4000m \
big_file.fastq.gz \

# record checksums of original and chunks

md5sum \
big_file.fastq.gz \
big_file.fastq.gz.split4g.* \
> big_file.fastq.gz.md5

Warning: time stamps

When using an FTP client to transfer data up, it is easy to lose both modification and creation timestamps. In particular, many clients will (optionally) preserve modification time, but few will (optionally) preserve creation date.

FTP client cost platform preserve mod_date preserve create_date
lftp free linux/cmd_line yes no
SmartFTP $$ Win Only/GUI yes can be enabled
fileZilla free linux & win/GUI_only can be enabled no
ftp_ssl free linux/cmd_line yes no

Filezilla on create times

Warning: Shared-to-you folders can't be moved

If someone creates a folder and shares it to you (as an reader, editor, co-owner, etc), it will live in your top level directory, and you will NOT be able to move it into any subfolder.

"Currently, users can't rearrange their own view of folders they are invited to collaborate within. As you note, when someone invites you to collaborate in a folder that you have never had access to before, you will see that folder on your root level." []

Workaround: if your collaborator makes you the full owner of the folder, then you will be able to move it.

Fix timeframe: "We've heard requests that people be able to rearrange their views before, and this is being considered as part of a larger product experience change next year" []


Check out our YouTube video on Setting up rclone for file transfer to/from Cheaha

rclone config

Data Transfer Cheaha to BOX. In the terminal (inside the VNC session), load the module rclone

module load rclone/1.48.0

The initial setup for Box involves getting a token from Box rclone config walks you through it. Here is an example of how to make a remote called remote. First run:

 rclone config

This will guide you through an interactive setup process:

No remotes found - make a new one
n) New remote
s) Set configuration password
q) Quit config
n/s/q> n
name> remote
Type of storage to configure.
Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
XX / Box
   \ "box"
Storage> box
Box App Client Id - leave blank normally.
Box App Client Secret - leave blank normally.
Remote config
Use auto config?
 * Say Y if not sure
 * Say N if you are working on a remote or headless machine
y) Yes
n) No
y/n> y
If your browser doesn't open automatically go to the following link:
Log in and authorize rclone for access
Waiting for code...
Got code
client_id = 
client_secret = 
token = {"access_token":"XXX","token_type":"bearer","refresh_token":"XXX","expiry":"XXX"}
y) Yes this is OK
e) Edit this remote
d) Delete this remote
y/e/d> y
rclone ls

List the objects in the path with size and path.

rclone ls remote:path [flags]
 -h, --help   help for ls

Note that ls and lsl recurse by default - use “--max-depth 1” to stop the recursion. There are several options related list commands

  • ls to list size and path of objects only
  • lsl to list modification time, size and path of objects only
  • lsd to list directories only

The commands do not recurse by default - use “-R” to make them recurse. Listing a nonexistent directory will produce an error.

rclone mkdir

Make the path if it doesn’t already exist.

rclone mkdir remote:path [flags]
  -h, --help   help for mkdir
rclone copy

Copy files from source to dest, skipping already copied. Note: Use the -P/--progress flag to view real-time transfer statistics

rclone copy source:sourcepath dest:destpath
rclone copy directory

Pending issue : Work around solution

rclone copy source:sourcepath "dest:DIR" 
/DIR when passed as a variable creates a remote directory
rclone delete

Remove the contents of path. rclone delete only deletes objects but leaves the directory structure alone. If you want to delete a directory and all of its contents use rclone purge

rclone delete remote:path [flags]
  -h, --help   help for delete
rclone purge

Remove the path and all of its contents.

rclone purge remote:path [flags]
  -h, --help   help for purge

lftp mirror -R examples (UPload)

lftp mirror

  • "mirror" copies directory hierarchies DOWN from to local
  • "mirror -R" copies directory hierarchies UP from local to

error handling

  • the box server frequently looses connection (fails) on particular files
  • just re-run the "mirror -R" and it will upload only new/failed files..

Interactive lftp


> user users_BOX_external_password
> mirror --parallel=10 -R local_src_dir box_dest_dir

Single-line lftp (non-shared box)

Warning: This one makes the password visible to "ps" so should only be used on personal machines

lftp -u,users_BOX_external_password << EOF

mirror --parallel=10 -R local_src_dir box_dest_dir

scripted lftp

cat > box_upload.lftp << EOF

user users_BOX_external_password
mirror --parallel=10 -R local_src_dir /box_dest_dir
chmod 700 box_upload.lftp
lftp -f box_upload.lftp ; echo lftp_RC=$?

scripted lftp - externalize password

file ~/.netrc contains your box external password once (works for wget, lftp, etc)

cat >> ~/.netrc << EOF

password user_Box_External_PW


chmod 700 ~/.netrc

then for each transfer, you create a local .lftp file w/o a password. Much more secure and easy to keep up to date.

cat > box_upload.lftp << EOF

mirror -R local_src_dir /box_dest_dir

lftp -f box_upload.lftp ; echo lftp_RC=$?

lftp mirror examples (DOWNload)

scripted lftp


  • --loop keep restarting until there are no new files left to download - helps if someone else is uploading to that directory while you're downloading it!
  • -v verbose level 1: includes bytes transferred and transfer speed.
  • --parallel=10 use 10 concurrent TCP/IP connections (much faster)
cat > box_download.lftp << EOF

user users_BOX_external_password
mirror --loop -v --parallel=10 /box_remote_src_dir local_dest_dir
chmod 700 box_download.lftp
lftp -f box_download.lftp ; echo lftp_RC=$?

Issues to resolve

  • Routing over Iternet2
 * we see our traffic randomly going over the commodity internet

Linux Support

Unfortunately, Box doesn't provide a Linux client (is it on the road map?).

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