ASP: Hiding file locations by binary stream reading

ASP: Hiding file locations by binary stream reading

I do a lot of work with internet content business – companies that earn their living by managing documents and content, either for their own services or on behalf of customers.

Often this involves making documents on the server available for viewing, but without propagating the URL of the actual file, and with permission checks to ensure that the person viewing the file is authorised to do so.

Here’s a simple technique to make a file, such as a PDF, available without revealing the file’s URL and with a security check.

The trick is to binary read the file to the user’s browser, instead of the user opening the file directly. In ASP we do this with the ADODB.Stream object. This allows us to open the file on the web server as a binary stream and send it to the browser. The user will be none the wiser to the file’s location.


' Run a security check
' Add code here to ensure that the logged in user has permission to view the file
' if we have a file identifier
if fileId>0 then
' grab the file's name and location - probably from a database table
sqlStr="SELECT filePath,fileName FROM tblMyFiles WHERE fileId="&request("fileId")
set rs=Server.CreateObject("adodb.Recordset")
rs.cachesize=1 sqlStr, conn, adOpenForwardOnly,adLockReadOnly
' if the file entry in our database table is found
if not rs.eof then
' open the file system object
Set objFSO = Server.CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
' check the file we want does actually exist
If objFSO.FileExists(filePath&lcase(rs("fileName"))) then
' and if it does exist, then spit out to the browser
' open a binary stream for the file
Set strOutStream = Server.CreateObject( "ADODB.Stream" )
strOutStream.Type = 1 'adTypeBinary
strOutStream.Mode = 3 'adModeReadWrite
' load the file into the stream
strOutStream.LoadFromFile (filePath&lcase(rs("fileName")))
Response.Buffer = TRUE
' use the content type appropriate to the file - here we're using a PDF
Response.ContentType = "application/pdf"
Response.AddHeader "content-disposition", "inline; filename=" & rs("fileName")
Response.BinaryWrite (strOutStream.Read)
Set strOutStream = Nothing
end if
set objFSO=nothing
end if
Set rs=nothing
end if

2 thoughts on “ASP: Hiding file locations by binary stream reading

  1. Hi,
    I´m trying a very similiar solution of yours. But I had a problem when my files are in anothen computer. I´ve tryed network paths (\\computer\…) but the LoadFromFile doesn´t recognize the file. Did you have this problem before ?

  2. Hi Alberto
    Presuming that you have the correct path set up, this is almost certainly networking permissions between your boxes. The anonymous user account won’t have permission to access the remote server/directory.
    I’ve got around this in the past by setting the anonymous user’s password the same on the different servers, then, via Remote Desktop, ensuring I’ve logged into the remote box at least once using those credentials.

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