OneDrive for Business

OneDrive is the cloud storage built into Office 365 that all faculty and staff have access to.

We all have 5TB of storage space at our disposal.  However for most, 5TB will be more than enough (5TB is roughly 5000 gigabytes, which is a LOT of storage).

Cloud storage solves many issues we deal with here at SEBS/NJAES and I would highly recommend that you consider using this as part of your workflow.  The primary benefits of OneDrive storage are (1) File sharing and collaboration, (2) easier access to your files from off campus, and (3) off-site backups of your data.

First, let's start with file sharing.  In the past, sharing files was not an easy task.  Some departments had file servers that allowed file sharing within departments but there was no easy was of sharing data between departments at Rutgers.  Sharing usually required emailing files back and forth, using PostIt, Sakai, or using another third party cloud application.  Now with OneDrive, we have the ability to easily upload files to share with others both inside and outside the university.  You can share with a group or a specific person or people, and choose the level of access they have (read vs edit, etc).

Secondly, OneDrive storage also facilitates access to your data from outside of your physical office.  This storage is reachable from anywhere in the world, so if you use OneDrive to store your data, you can access it just as easily from home or while traveling as you can from your office.  This solves the problem of having your data locked on your hard drive of your office computer, and needing to access your office in order to access your data.  Also, think of times like hurricane sandy when offices were without power for days and you could not power up your computer to access this data.

Third, and arguably most important, is that OneDrive provides redundant, offsite backups of the data you store there.  While some departments have a sophisticated system of PC and file server backups where data is backed up and taken offsite, most departments do not the money or manpower to manage such a system.  I cannot count how many times I've seen faculty storing a lifetime of important data, representing possibly millions of dollars of research, keeping such data on a single PC hard drive or a external USB hard drive in one location.  Keeping data only on one hard drive leaves you with a single point of failure for data loss.  Hard drive failures are common.  Backing up to an external drive in your office solves that single point of failure but still leaves you vulnerable to a building disaster like a water leak, building fire, etc.  Being mindful of this risk and taking some time to manage your data and back it up to OneDrive periodically eliminates this risk by provide a redundant, off-site backup of this important data.

There are two ways to work with OneDrive.  You can log into OWA, and click OneDrive and access it there, or you can sync data with the OneDrive For Business app, which is available for Mac and PC.

Speak to your local IT support for assistance.  The one caveat with the local OneDrive for Business application is that you are keeping a 2nd copy of your data on your hard drive, so your local hard drive storage may be an issue.  Windows 10 offers a feature called OneDrive Files on Demand that helps workaround the issue by storing only placeholders of files in the OneDrive sync directory eliminating the need to keep two full copies. This Files On Demand features is not available for Windows 7 or older, or for Macs. Another caveat is that by default, it's up to you to manage what goes to your OneDrive storage, so if you use this for backing up data, you need to actively manage these backups.  There are a few strategies that could eliminate this caveat which we in SEBS/NJAES ITS are considering now, and may be the topic of a future article.

In the meantime, Brian Cotter put together a wonderful video tutorial to show how to use OneDrive, both via OWA and the local app.

Any questions, contact your local IT support.