Cloud-first file storage

All staff and students at Sussex have a OneDrive account, and all staff have access to Box.

If you are a student, please visit the OneDrive page. Some of the folders on Sussex student computers (such as Documents) are also backed up to the University's file storage system.

Cloud-first file storage guidance for staff

Cloud-based technologies often represent the best, fastest and most secure solutions to ICT challenges. IT Services is committed to a cloud-first future, and this includes the best place to store your files.

You should begin moving your files from older University storage (Home Share (N Drive) or Group Share (G Drive)) to the two cloud storage providers recommended and supported by IT Services.


Why should you use cloud file storage?

The benefits of cloud storage include:

  • Excellent security
  • Integration with your computer’s file system using Box Drive and the OneDrive client. This means they act like any other folder on your computer
  • Mobile access on any Android or iOS device
  • Version control (the ability to recover older versions of your files)
  • Access from almost anywhere in the world, making working from home or abroad easier
  • Sharing and collaboration options so you can edit live with a colleague or provide read-only access to a person or organisation
  • Large single file size (15GB for Box, 100GB for OneDrive as of December 2019)

OneDrive Home vs OneDrive for Business

If you create a OneDrive account, either free or on a subscription plan, this is a OneDrive Home account.

When organisations like Sussex arrange for secure file storage for their members, this is a OneDrive for Business account.

These two products are completely different, even if they appear the same in your file browser.

You should not use OneDrive Home to store files relating to University business.

Box vs OneDrive for Business

Think of Box as the replacement for the Group Share (G Drive) and T Drive.

If you are collaborating as a team on a wide range of file types then Box is the best solution. We strongly recommend that all members of your team install the Box Drive client using the Software Center.

Think of OneDrive as a replacement for the Home Share (N Drive).

OneDrive has better integration with Microsoft Office products and is a good solution when you're working on files alone, or if you only need to share something ocasionally. Your Windows 10 PC should have the OneDrive client installed, or you should install it from the Software Center. OneDrive has more limited functions to support lots of users, so its less useful for collaborative teamwork. Microsoft provides a range of features that are only available if you work within the Office suite and use OneDrive as your storage solution.

Sharing files

If the content of your files is covered by GDPR legislation, then you should only share these files with individuals or organisations that you know will respect the intended purpose for the data and follow GDPR best practice.

If you share a file outside of the University, you should have written assurance from the individual or organisation that they will process and store the file in a way that complies with GDPR guidance. For additional guidance about GDPR issues, please see the Data Protection web page.

Working as a team in the cloud

If your team works together on a series of important files then you should create a Box folder structure to which you all have the appropriate access. Box allows you to add co-owners for a file or folder and you should ensure that more than one member of staff is a co-owner of the parent folder.

This is the best replacement for the older G Drive system; a collective file space where a group of people keep shared files that they all need to access. To understand access control and sharing via Box, please see the Box website.

Key individuals in your team should have co-ownership of these folders. This means that you won’t be at risk of losing access to files if somebody leaves the team or isn’t available to share a file.

Arranging appropriate file access should be part of the onboarding of new staff and something you consider when staff leave your team.

When you save your files, where are they stored?

Depending on which operating system you use (Windows or Mac), and how you connect to different types of storage, your files will be saved in different physical locations. It’s important to understand this to ensure that your files are properly backed up, securely stored and that you’re sharing the correct files with the correct people.

Sussex Windows PCs

Windows 10 comes with a sync client for OneDrive (both Personal and Business). Your Windows 10 PC should have the OneDrive client installed, or you should install it from the Software Center.

If you use Box, you should install Box Drive from the Software Center.

Cloud files

If you are working out of Box and/or OneDrive for Business, and you are running a sync client (Box Drive or the OneDrive client) then you will see folders for these in Windows Explorer:

image showing the Box and OneDrive folders within Windows Explorer

Anything in these folders is automatically synchronised with your cloud folders. The files are not stored locally on your computer itself unless you have used them recently, or marked folders to be stored locally. There will be icons next to all files in these folders that tell you whether the files have been downloaded to your PC or they are in the cloud but available for download.

The icons in Box folders look like this:
image showing the icons in a Box folder within Windows Explorer

The icons in OneDrive folders look like this:
image showing the icons in a OneDrive folder within Windows Explorer

To save space on your computer, right click on files or folders to mark files for download only when you need them, and change these files to cloud-only when you’re done with them. If your files are stored in OneDrive for Business this option is called always keep on this device, and if you store files in Box this option is called Make available offline. Both are found when you right click on a file in your OneDrive for Business or Box Drive folders in Windows Explorer.

Network folders

Certain folders on your computer are kept synchronised with the on-site storage provided by IT Services. These folders and files are safe, but as we move towards a cloud-first future, you should begin moving them to either Box or OneDrive for Business.

Your network folders are:

  • Group Share
  • Home Share
  • Teaching Share
  • Desktop
  • Documents
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos

Local files

Local files are those which are saved on your computer’s hard disk and not backed up to any network location or cloud storage. You should not save any files of any kind to folders that aren’t backed up.

Folders not listed above are not backed up.

Sussex Windows laptops

If you have been provided with a Windows laptop by IT Services, none of your folders are backed up until you take steps to begin backing up specific locations. Even after you have set up a sync client, remember that most of the folders on your computer are local folders and not backed up to the cloud.

Previously a system called Code42 CrashPlan has been available to synchronise your folders and keep them safe. With the availability of cloud storage solutions, this product will be discontinued in the summer of 2020.

Your options for backing up your files are:

  • Install Box Drive and Box Edit to add a folder for Box to Windows Explorer and work directly from Box in Microsoft Office products.
    You would then work exclusively out of this folder.
  • Log in to your Sussex OneDrive for Business account in the pre-installed OneDrive client.
    You would then work exclusively out of this folder.
  • Install WebDrive and connect it to the University Home Share (N Drive), Group Share (G Drive) or T Drive. This will add folders for these locations to Windows Explorer. Files you store in these folders will be synchronised with the University’s storage.

Sussex Mac computer

If you have been provided with a Mac desktop or laptop by IT Services, none of your folders are backed up until you take steps to begin backing up specific locations. Even after you have set up a sync client, remember that most of the folders on your computer are local folders and not backed up to the cloud.

Previously a system called Code42 CrashPlan has been available to synchronise your folders and keep them safe. With the availability of cloud storage solutions, this product will be discontinued in the summer of 2020.

Your options for backing up your files are:

  • Install Box Drive and Box Tools from the App Store to add a folder for Box to Windows Explorer and work directly from Box in Microsoft Office products.
    You would then work exclusively out of this folder.
  • Install the OneDrive client from the App Store. This will add an icon to your system tray. Click this icon to log in to your Sussex OneDrive for Business account.
    You would then work exclusively out of this folder.
  • Connect your Mac to the Home Share (N Drive) or Group Share (G Drive). This will add folders for these locations in Finder. Files you store in these folders will be synchronised with the University’s storage when you are online.

Guidance for file sharing and collaboration

You should share links to cloud files rather than attach files to emails. This means everyone is working on a single version of the file rather than multiple versions kept in different places. It is also more secure than attaching a file to an unencrypted email.

Find out how to send links for Box files.

Find out how to send links for OneDrive files.

Best practice for saving and sharing in the cloud

Best practice revolves around the kind of data you’re storing and sharing.

When you upload something into Box or OneDrive for Business, we consider that to be secure. When you share data with an outside organisation, you are losing some control and therefore you must consider things like:

  • Is there any personally identifiable information in the files you’re sharing. If yes, your data is covered by GDPR and you are responsible for ensuring it remains secure and only used for the intended, stated purpose. If you share it, you must have clear assurances about how the data will be stored and used and be clear that this is acceptable under GDPR legislation.
  • Are there any issues of intellectual property or similar?
  • Could any of the information being shared be maliciously mis-used against the University or any of its staff or students?
  • When you create the sharing link, do you want to make the file view-only or editable for the recipient? This gives you more control than simply sending a file. You can decide whether the recipient is able to download the file for their own use or just view it online.
  • How long do you want to enable a sharing link for? In Box you can set a link to expire on a certain date.

If you have questions about data protection, our colleagues in the Data Protection team will be happy to help.

Sharing settings

You should become familiar with the settings and options for file sharing in the cloud storage platform(s) you use.

To ensure that you can comply with best practice and GDPR requirements, you must know:

  • How to share a file or folder from the box.com or onedrive.live.com, either with a sharing link or by giving somebody access to a file or folder
  • How to share a file or folder from Windows Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac)
  • How to share a file or folder from within a Microsoft Office application
  • How to check who has access to a file or folder
  • How to fine-tune the sharing settings for a file or folder, giving people the appropriate level of access
  • In Box, how to create a sharing link that expires on a certain date

Learn about Box sharing settings on the Box website

Learn about sharing settings for OneDrive for Business on this page of the Microsoft website.

Microsoft Teams

Staff should use Microsoft Teams to chat, collaborate and make the most of cloud-first technologies.

University file storage

The University's traditional on-site file storage provides the Home Share (N Drive), Group Share (G Drive) and T Drive systems.

Find out more on the file storage page.