ASP.NET: Downloading files from a UNC share


Implementing a cross-browser solution for downloading files from a UNC share in ASP.NET applications

Table of contents

The scenario

I was working recently in an intranet application that had a download page. The output HTML was similar to the following:

<li><a class="download" href="\\MYSERVER\reports 2011\report1.zip" title="Report 1">Report 1</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="\\MYSERVER\reports 2011\report2.zip" title="Report 2">Report 2</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="\\MYSERVER\reports 2011\report 3.zip" title="Report 3">Report 3</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="\\MYSERVER\reports 2011\report 4.zip" title="Report 4">Report 4</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="\\MYSERVER\reports 2011\report 5&6.zip" title="Report 5&6">Report 5&6</a></li>

This was working fine in IE9, but not in other browsers. There was no action using Google Chrome, and using Firefox there was an error (HTTP Error 400 – Bad Request).

I tried to convert the file path to a file URI but it didn’t fix it. It continued to work on IE only.

<li><a class="download" href="file://MYSERVER/reports 2011/report1.zip" title="Report 1">Report 1</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="file://MYSERVER/reports 2011/report2.zip" title="Report 2">Report 2</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="file://MYSERVER/reports 2011/report 3.zip" title="Report 3">Report 3</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="file://MYSERVER/reports 2011/report 4.zip" title="Report 4">Report 4</a></li>
<li><a class="download" href="file://MYSERVER/reports 2011/report 5&6.zip" title="Report 5&6">Report 5&6</a></li>

The solution was to create a custom ASP.NET download page. I used also jquery on the client side.

Step 1: Using jquery on the client side

The first step was to add an event handler to the download links. The request URI is encoded and is sent as a parameter to the download page. Creating an hidden iframe and setting the src attribute with the download link allows the file to be downloaded asynchronously.

$("a.download").bind("click", function (e) {
    e.preventDefault();
    var requestedFile = encodeURIComponent($(this).attr('href'));

    var iframe = document.createElement("iframe");
    iframe.src = 'Download.aspx?file=' + requestedFile;
    iframe.style.display = "none";
    document.body.appendChild(iframe); // triggers download page
});

Make sure you use encodeURIComponent function to encode special characters in the filename.

Step 2: Create an ASP.NET download page

This is the source code of the download page:

protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
{
    try
    {
        string requestFile = Request.QueryString["file"];

        if(string.IsNullOrEmpty(requestFile))
        {
            throw new FileNotFoundException("File to download cannot be null or empty");
        }

        // Get file name from URI string in C#
        // http://stackoverflow.com/a/1105614
        var uri = new Uri(requestFile);
        string filename = Path.GetFullPath(uri.LocalPath);
        var fileInfo = new FileInfo(filename);

        if(!fileInfo.Exists)
        {
            throw new FileNotFoundException("File to download was not found", filename);
        }


        // get content type based on file extension. Example:
		// http://stackoverflow.com/a/691599
        Response.ContentType = GetContentType(fileInfo.Extension);

        Response.AddHeader("Content-Disposition", 
                           "attachment; filename=\"" + fileInfo.Name + "\"");
        Response.WriteFile(fileInfo.FullName);
        Response.End();
    }
    catch(ThreadAbortException)
    {
        // ignore exception
    }
    catch(FileNotFoundException ex)
    {
        Response.StatusCode = (int) System.Net.HttpStatusCode.NotFound;
        Response.StatusDescription = ex.Message;
    }
    catch(Exception ex)
    {
        Response.StatusCode = (int) System.Net.HttpStatusCode.InternalServerError;
        Response.StatusDescription = string.Format("Error downloading file: {0}", ex.Message);
    }
}

Some notes:

This is necessary in order to make the download work with a UNC share (\\MYSERVER\….) or a file URI (file://….)

    var uri = new Uri(requestFile);
    string filename = Path.GetFullPath(uri.LocalPath);

To avoid filename truncating, it’s necessary to wrap the filename with quotes

    Response.AddHeader("Content-Disposition", 
                       "attachment; filename=\"" + fileInfo.Name + "\"");

References

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6 thoughts on “ASP.NET: Downloading files from a UNC share

  1. Pingback: friday links 18 « A Programmer with Microsoft tools

    • Hi Luís,

      That was one of the first things I’ve tried, but it wasn’t working for all the browsers I was testing (FF, IE and Chrome).
      That’s why I decided to create a download page.

      Rui

  2. Pingback: ASP.NET: Downloading files from a UNC share | Javascript | Syngu

  3. That sounds like a rather serious potential security issue waiting to happen.

    I’d suggest checking the characters used and whether your user should have access, assuming you can refer to the file by some other unique ID.

    • Hi Stephen,

      the article is about a cross browser solution for downloading files from a UNC share. I didn’t add any coding regarding security to keep it clean and simple.

      I do agree with you, some security checkings should be done – define which users can access the downloads, and/or check if the requested file can be downloaded or not. In my case, I was working on an intranet application where all the pages were available only to authenticated users and all users could download any file, so I had no big security concerns.

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