Using SSHFS To Mount Remote Directories

Updated by Angel Guarisma Written by Linode

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Using SSHFS To Mount Remote Directories

SSHFS (Secure Shell FileSystem), is a tool that allows users to securely access remote filesystems over the SSH protocol. This guide will get you started with SSHFS on your Linode. SSHFS can eliminate the need to use FTP/SFTP to transfer files to and from a remote server. For this guide you will need the SSH daemon running on your Linode. If you do not have the SSH daemon visit Securing Your Server before returning to this guide. For this guide we used two Ubuntu 16.10 systems, but sshfs can be installed on any Linode image.

Install Prerequisite Package

Before installing SSHFS we need to update the system:

apt-get update && apt-get upgrade

Issue the following command to install sshfs:

apt-get install sshfs
The sshfs package is available on every package manager, use the commands specific to your distribution.

Setting up your Linux Client

If you wish to use a normal user account to mount file systems using SSHFS, you’ll need to add the user to the fuse group first.

If you are unfamiliar with users, groups and file permissions, be sure to visit Users and Groups for a brief introduction.

To check if the fuse group exists run:

cat /etc/group | grep 'fuse'

If the group exists, execute the following command with sudo, substituting your user account name in place of “someuser”:

sudo usermod -a -G fuse someuser

If the group does not exist it has to be created and added to the fuse group:

sudo groupadd fuse
sudo usermod -a -G fuse user

Log out and log back in before proceeding using a normal user account.

Mounting the Remote File System

To mount a remote file system execute the command sshfs. The syntax for sshfs is:

sshfs [user@]host:[directory] mountpoint [options]

To Mount the home directory of a user named “user” on a remote server at “”, create a directory as a destination for the mounted folder.

mkdir sshfsExample

Then we use the sshfs command to mount the directory from our remote server, to the directory on our local client. The syntax for sshfs is: sshfs [user@]host:[directory] mountpoint [options] Read more about sshfs here: sshfs Manual

sshfs ssfhsExample

You can also sshfs to your Linode server’s IP address:

sshfs user@ sshfsExample

To unmount the filesystem, use the umount command:

umount sshfsExample

SSH Keys and Persistent Mounts

To keep your server’s directory mounted on your system through reboots, you have to create a persistent mount. Make sure you can access the remote server without entering a password, by modifying the SSH key directory. The SSH Key is stored in the remote authorized_keys file.

If your system is older, this file may be named authorized_keys2. Consult /etc/ssh/sshd_config if you are unsure.

Substitute values appropriate for your server in commands that include a hostname or user account name:

If the user account on your remote server doesn’t already have a key in ~/.ssh, issue this command on the remote server, and accept the defaults.

ssh-keygen -t rsa

If your local client’s user account doesn’t already have an ssh key in ~/.ssh, issue the same command on the client system, accepting the defaults:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Issue these commands on the client system to copy your public SSH key to the remote server:

scp ~/.ssh/
ssh "echo \`cat ~/.ssh/\` >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys"

At this point, you should be able to log into the remote server as “user” without entering a password. You can force the mounted filesystem to remain persistent between reboots. This is done by including a mount directive for the remote user directory in /etc/fstab.

<>:/home/users /root/sshfsExample fuse defaults 0 0

This entry would mount the home directory for “user” on the server “” locally at /root/sshfsExample each time the system is booted. You may treat this entry like any other in /etc/fstab.

Next Steps

After completing this guide you will be able to transfer files to a remote server from your local machine, without using an FTP client. If you still want to learn how to use an FTP client, check out our guide: Transfer Files with FileZilla, and see what method you prefer.

More Information

You may wish to consult the following resources for additional information on this topic. While these are provided in the hope that they will be useful, please note that we cannot vouch for the accuracy or timeliness of externally hosted materials.

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This guide is published under a CC BY-ND 4.0 license.