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Accessing comprehensive web hosting

This document describes how to access the files in your comprehensive web hosting site and how to manage your databases. Please also read our notes on the access node, note the SSH Host keys for this server and the notes on the local quota restrictions.

Accessing files in your site

SSH/SFTP clients

To access the files within your site, you will need to login to the server access.nsms.ox.ac.uk using an SSH or SFTP client.

There are a number of options for free clients, if you do not already have an SSH or SFTP client installed. These are:

The above is not an exhaustive list, and there are other clients (both free and commercial) available.

IP based access restriction

For security reasons, we restrict logins to the server to those from known, static IP addresses. Please contact UPST to inform us of any changes of your static IP address.

Username and password

To login you need a username and password; the username will be either the same as your SSO username (e.g abcd1234 ) or provided to you by NSMS if you are external to the University (and generally have the form nsmsXXXX). For University members, the password is your NSMS password, which can be reset by visiting the password reset page. Please note, you will first need to authenticate yourself using your SSO username and password, after which you will be able to update your NSMS account password. Your account will expire in line with your University card. People external to the University will need to provide UPST with their public SSH key, e.g. ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.

Directory structure

Once logged in you should find the following directories:

    database_details
    <SITE>/cron
    <SITE>/home
    <SITE>/htdocs
    <SITE>/logs

where <SITE> is the name of your site. Note that if you have multiple virtual hosts being served by one contract then this will be the primary name of your site.

In the <SITE>/htdocs is the document root of the webserver, and <SITE>/logs contains a (read only) copy of the log files. The <SITE>/home contains space for files you wish to store outside of the document root of your site - e.g. backup copies of .htaccess files.

Accessing your databases

To access your databases you will need to login to the the database server. For each database we provide access in two ways: a specific account for the web application to use, and an account for you to use to manage the database. The username and password for the web application will have a username like site1234_abcd and will normally only be allowed to connect from the web server to the database server; should you wish to use tools like drush we can enable this account to work from access.nsms.ox.ac.uk.

MySQL database credentials

The password for the web server will be in a file named after the database you requested and will be stored in a directory under the home directory of the web site (i.e. in the example above this would be <SITE>/home/database_details); it will contain the following information:

  • database name
  • database server
  • database user name
  • database password

We would advise you to use the database server name rather than looking up the IP address of the server.

Your password will be in a file called <database server>-login-details.txt and contain the following information:

  • your username
  • the password for the database
  • the name of the database server

Your named account will be able to login using the command line tools on access.nsms.ox.ac.uk or via port forwarding as below. 

MySQL instructions

For MySQL users the command line tool is mysql and can be run on access.nsms.ox.ac.uk using:

  mysql -h <database server> -u <username> -p

If you prefer to use a GUI tool then you can use port forwarding, e.g. from your desktop:

Mac or Linux users can tunnel over SSH:

 

  ssh -L 3306:<database-server-name>:3306 <your-sso>@access.nsms.ox.ac.uk
  e.g.
  ssh -L 3306:nsmsdbXX.nsms.ox.ac.uk:3306 abcd1234@access.nsms.ox.ac.uk

You could then run e.g. mysql-workbench, and connect to localhost which will be port-forwarded to the actual database host. Closing the ssh session will terminate the port forwarding.

Windows users can tunnel using PuTTY:

Install putty from https://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/
The download is called e.g. putty-0.70-installer.msi
Install it, accepting the default options is fine
Run PuTTY from the start menu
In the "Host Name (or IP address)" box, type access.nsms.ox.ac.uk
On the left menu, under "Connection" click "Data"
In the "Auto-login username" box, type your NSMS AD username, which is the same as your SSO username if you have one
On the left of the putty window, click the "+" next to "SSH" then click "Tunnels"
In the "Source port" box, type 3306
(if you are running a mysql / mariadb server on your desktop then port 3306 might not be available, in which case you'd need to pick another port)
In the "Destination" box type the full name of your database server, followed by ":3306", e.g.:
nsmsdbXX.nsms.ox.ac.uk:3306
Leave "Local" and "Auto" selected, and click "Add"
The text box should then display something like:
L3306  nsmsdb**.nsms.ox.ac.uk:3306
Scroll the left menu back to the top, then click "Session"
In the "Saved Sessions" box give it a name, e.g. access-nsms
Click "Save"

Now that the connection details are saved, you can load them by clicking the name you gave, then clicking "Load"
Click "Open"
If you get a popup "PuTTY Security Alert", then check that the fingerprint given matches the one here:
https://help.it.ox.ac.uk/web/webhosting/access#SSH_fingerprints
If it does, click Yes
Enter your NSMS AD password

Run your choice of desktop SQL program, e.g. mysql-workbench or heidisql
When creating a connection, use "localhost" or "127.0.0.1" (they're the same) for the database hostname, *instead* of the actual database hostname e.g. nsmsdb99.nsms.ox.ac.uk
Use the database username and password that you were given when the site was set up

Closing the PuTTY session will terminate the port forwarding, so close your database program first.

PostgreSQL instructions

Note that for PostgreSQL we are able to use your NSMS username and password, so it is not necessary to have separate credentials.

For PostgreSQL users the command line tool is psql and can be run using:

  psql -h <database server>

If you prefer to use a GUI tool then you can use port forwarding, e.g. from your desktop:

  ssh -L 5432:<database-server-name>:5432 <your-sso>@access.nsms.ox.ac.uk

You could then run e.g. pgadmin3, and connect to localhost which will be port-forwarded to the actual database host. Closing the ssh session will terminate the port forwarding.

Important notes on access.nsms.ox.ac.uk

You should be aware that access.nsms.ox.ac.uk is not the server that your site runs on, it is only a way of accessing your files and databases.

For customers running Drupal we have the drush utility installed; there should be a current version of drush in in your path. We also maintain older versions of drush under /opt/drush but you would have to change your path in order to use these.

Please note that files on access.nsms.ox.ac.uk are not backed up, as this server is just designed to give you the ability to get to your files. Your website and database however are backed up.

SSH/SFTP fingerprints

On 2016-03-03 we upgraded the server access.nsms.ox.ac.uk and as a result the SSH host keys changed; the fingerprints are:

DSA c0:bd:3d:c2:a0:c1:e5:15:1c:08:7a:7a:ea:04:ab:94
ECDSA  5e:ea:11:06:ef:da:5f:9d:fc:6c:4f:48:fe:25:17:27
ED25519 d8:bc:f1:d9:8f:6f:3e:0a:50:0e:32:9e:b6:95:7b:8f
RSA 69:a8:be:25:13:16:14:b3:e3:e9:37:14:9b:bd:4d:b2

Local quotas on access.nsms.ox.ac.uk

As the server access.nsms.ox.ac.uk is shared amongst all our clients, we have set a local quota for the amount of storage you can use on access.nsms.ox.ac.uk. This is so that resources can be fairly distributed amongst everybody. This does not affect the storage used for your web sites.

Currently the local quota is set to 1GB. You can view your current usage using the Linux quota command.

Service area: 

Written by IT Services. Latest revision 25 February 2019