From the KnowledgeBase
Recommendations: Options for Storing and Sharing Your Data
The following solution outlines the common methods used to share and transfer data over the Princeton network. Please click on each link for full instructions on how to use it.
Where should I store my personal files?
Your own C: drive
The hard drive of your own personal computer is a convenient place to store your files and will provide the best access performance while working on your files. But you need to make sure that important files on your PC are backed up -- if your PC is not being backed up, consider another option.
OIT Central File Server (H: drive)
Your H: drive is space provided by OIT over the campus network. Files stored here are backed up by OIT. You must be connected to the Princeton network (through VPN if you are off-campus) to access files on your H: drive. See: www.princeton.edu/files for more information. Use the following directions to mount your Central File Server account:
- Windows computer instructions
- Mac OS X computer instructions
- Students with Windows computers have their H: Drives automatically mapped when they log in to the Princeton domain
WebSpace is a network storage service offered by OIT. You can store and retrieve your files via a web browser as well as access these files from any networked PC anywhere (VPN not required). You can also access files directly, no web browser required, by connecting to the server with Windows File Explorer, Mac Finder, or the Xythos XDrive via WebDAV. WebSpace offers several additional features such as document tagging, versioning, and full-text searching. See: www.princeton.edu/webspace for more information.
Where should my department/group/team store shared files?
Departmental File Server (M: drive)
Your departmental M: drive is a network drive provided to your group by OIT. Multiple users can given access to files stored here. You must be connected to the Princeton network (through VPN if off-campus) to access files on the M: drive. This is typically the best option for storing large files that require simultaneous, multi-user access or random access (e.g., database files). Once a folder is created and a specific access group defined, the folder can be used for the many document management operations. For more information about connecting to your M: drive, please see kb.princeton.edu/9511.
Managing permissions to files is easier than with M: drive. Files and folders can be shared with non-Princeton users without any need to create user accounts for them. See: www.princeton.edu/webspace for more information
SharePoint document and picture libraries can be used to store and share files which can then be accessed via a web browser. At this time, files can be shared only with other Princeton users. The ability to share with non-Princeton users is forthcoming. The maximum file size allowed is 50 MB. SharePoint is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office allowing for seamless versioning, locking, opening, and saving of Office documents. The user interface is more complex than WebSpace, but ultimately offers more functionality for team communication (see below). See: www.princeton.edu/sharepoint for more information.
OnBase provides a structured repository for secure document storage and retrieval. OnBase is a good option for storing business records, automating business processes using workflow, electronic forms, full-text search capabilities, and document imaging. You can also use OnBase to make scanned images available through other applications. For example, images stored in OnBase can be accessed by a hotkey from the PeopleSoft user interface. At this time, OnBase is for internal Princeton use only. For more information, see: kb.princeton.edu/9533.
OIT Recommendations: Options for Collaborative Communication
What tools can my team use to store and share documents, with tools for communicating about the documents?
If your group is made up of faculty and students organized within an academic course, Blackboard is often the most appropriate tool for several reasons. Classes in Blackboard are defined according to data automatically collected from the Office of the Registrar, including the class roster. The class roster can be further divided into sections. Blackboard includes several tools focused on teaching including evaluation tools, grading tools, and tools that can be used to hold online discussions. See: www.princeton.edu/blackboard for more information.
If your primary form of communication will be through shared documents (e.g., reports written in Microsoft Word, presentations given with PowerPoint, spreadsheets) with the possible need for a place to hold online discussions concerning those documents, WebSpace can provide the service you need. The wiki feature within WebSpace can be used to hold notes or online discussions. Alerting mechanisms let team members know when new information is available. WebSpace is integrated with Blackboard so is the appropriate tool for faculty to share files with students. See: www.princeton.edu/webspace for more information.
SharePoint can also be used to share documents and enable online discussions. SharePoint has many additional tools that can be used to communicate and coordinate a team including task tracking, calendaring, contact tracking, bug/issue tracking, surveys, forms, announcements, wikis, blogs, and template-based web pages. Microsoft Office applications are “SharePoint-aware” which often makes working in SharePoint seamless. Although it offers more tools and features, SharePoint can be more challenging to learn, configure, and organize than WebSpace, and is more appropriate for project management. Choose SharePoint if these additional tools and features are important for your work. See: www.princeton.edu/sharepoint for more information.
How can my team members collaborate on a single master document?
Microsoft Word, Excel, and other programs within Microsoft Office enable collaboration on the production and editing of files. Collaboration is often easiest when all revisions and comments on a document are tracked within a single copy. A shared location for files on a networked server or web site makes this possible. The document (whether a grant proposal, meeting minutes, or legal document) can be stored in a designated folder in a shared space. Each collaborator can then mark and track changes, add comments, and see the revisions of others. To generate a final version, consolidate all changes and comments from different reviewers. For more information, see: kb.princeton.edu/8379.