Data management

There are many storage options available to faculty, staff and grad students. Refer to the Guidelines for secure data exchange: Choosing information transmission methods based on the security classification. To help choose between the various options, ask these four questions: 

  1. Do I want a space for file delivery/transfer or collaboration? For collaboration work, you need space to store the files, modify the content and collaborate with others (such as offered by network storage, Teams or SharePoint). For delivery or transfer of files, you need space for others to be able to access or retrieve the files but long-term access is not required. In these cases, a service like SendIt or OneDrive can be used. 
  2. What kind of data am I storing? Does it contain restricted or highly restricted information? Refer to the Guidelines for secure data exchange: Choosing information transmission methods based on the security classification
  3. What is the scope of the collaboration? Is this a small, ad-hoc, short-term collaboration or is this a larger, on-going collaboration. Personal file sharing (OneDrive) is appropriate for small, short-term sharing and collaboration. For longer-term or larger group collaboration, you should investigate other options (such as Teams, SharePoint or HealthCloud). See also: When to choose OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, or SharePoint Online.
  4. Who do I need to have access to the data? Does the data need to be accessed by people outside of UW? External people can be added to Teams. HealthCloud is an UW-hosted option that is available for cases where cloud-based storage is not permitted. For external sharing options using OneDrive or SharePoint refer to How to add External Users to SharePoint Online and Microsoft's External or guest sharing in OneDrive, SharePoint, and Lists.

Options for data storage are detailed below. Health Computing can assist you in determining which solution is appropriate for your given situation.

Network drives

  • Use network storage locations instead of local computer drives or USB storage. Network storage locations are backed up numerous times through the day and are less prone to data loss due to failure. On a Windows computer you can browse and restore files from these backups.
  • Network drives have access controls in place that use UW credentials (only UW people can access network storage):
    • Personal: Retiring Service (use OneDrive instead). NEXUS account had a small home directory which was mapped as the N: drive when logging on to a NEXUS machine. The storage quota was 10GB. Access to this space will be discontinued in March 2023. Move your files to OneDrive.
    • Shared: Each department has space that is used for administrative documents. These are mapped as the R: drive on NEXUS machines. Access is granted as needed to folders on the departmental drives
    • Shared: Researchers can request network-based storage for their labs/teams. The starting allocation is 500MB. Email your Health Computing representative to have network storage set up
  • All of the storage space can be mapped (off-campus connections require VPN
  • How to map a network drive: WindowsMac
Network Storage Locations
Storage Type Windows Drive Letter Windows Path Mac Path
Personal (to be discontinued) N: \\fileu\users$\userid smb://fileu/users$/userid
Admin/Department R: \\filed\ahs$ smb://filed/ahs$/
Research Various \\ahsfile\sharename$ smb://ahsfile/sharename$

OneDrive

  • Each Faculty, Staff and Graduate student has access to 5TB of cloud-based storage using Microsoft’s Office365 OneDrive
  • Storage is for the duration of your enrollment/employment at UW (faculty and staff lose access when they leave; grad students lose access 16 months after their last registration)

SharePoint

  • Sharepoint is used for collaboration and document sharing with others on-campus.
  • SharePoint uses the Microsoft 365 for authentication and can be accessed from the App launcher menu (upper left) on your Microsoft 365 portal home page.
  • SharePoint sites exist for most academic and administrative units. Sites can be requested by contacting your Health Computing Office representative or emailing hlthco@uwaterloo.ca

Microsoft Teams

  • Microsoft Teams is an app in Microsoft 365 that supports teamwork by providing a central place for tools and resources. With MS Teams, members can meet, chat, manage and share files, and collaborate on documents simultaneously. Teams allows you to customize your work space, keeps your work secure, and provides a convenient platform to do more, together.
  • Sharing Files in Teams means:
    • Easy access to shared documents and be able to edit and share with multiple people at a time.
    • Files can be shared with Team members that are not part of UW. All Team members must have registered for an online account to join to a team but they do not need to be at UW (i.e. they need a Microsoft account of some sort).
    • Files are stored in Microsoft's Canadian data centres
  • Chat and video conference: Group chat and video conferencing in Teams allows team members to collaborate and connect easily while working on shared documents
  • Find out more at the UW Microsoft Teams page

SendIT (https://sendit.uwaterloo.ca)

  • Used for secure file transfer – end-to-end encryption guaranteed
  • When email is not appropriate – whether because of content type, size or sensitivity
  • Upload document to a website and send an email to the recipients who get a link to download the document
  • Documents are purged after 10 days
  • Can be used to send or receive documents from internal and external contacts (you can create guest accounts to allow external contacts to send you documents)
  • For details and instructions on using the service see About Sendit

HealthCloud (https://healthcloud.uwaterloo.ca)

  • A file sharing service similar to Dropbox, OneDrive but hosted at UW in the Faculty of Health
  • Only to be used for collaborative document sharing where external, non-UW contacts require access to the data and where the nature of the data or data sharing agreements do not allow cloud-based storage.
  • See our HealthCloud page for details 
  • Limited licenses available. Contact Health Computing for more details

Data recovery

  • Health Computing can assist in recovering data from computers or drives that have failed. For failed drives, the recovery times can be lengthy and sometimes only partially successful.