File Storage Options
This article covers various means of file storage available to Pacific students, faculty and staff and the best circumstances in which to use each one. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Consult with a UIS technology specialist if you aren't sure which is the right storage system to use.
|Method||Ease of Access||Storage Space||Security||UIS Support||HIPAA/FERPA OK?|
|Portable Hard Drives||Medium||Large||Low (unless encrypted)||Standard Support||Only if encrypted|
|Box||Medium||Unlimited||High||Core Systems Support||Yes*|
|Google Drive||High||Large||Medium||Standard Support||FERPA Yes, HIPAA No|
|Moodle||High||Small||High||Core Systems Support||Yes*|
|High||Small||Low||Core Systems Support||No|
|Server File Shares||Medium||Medium||High||Core Systems Support||Yes*|
|Other Online Storage||High||Large||Low||Not Supported||No|
* Other considerations apply when HIPAA protected information is being stored. See the HIPAA Best Practices documents on the HIPAA Training and Policies Moodle Page.
Portable Hard Drives
These are available in a variety of sizes, from a variety of vendors. Some come pre-formatted for use with Windows, others for use with Mac OS. Mac OS has built in software for automatic backups, and many hard drives come with automatic backup software for Windows. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to consult with someone on the ideal hard drive for your purposes.
- Pros: Can store very large amounts of data. Some have software that allows for automatic backups whenever the hard drive is plugged in.
- Cons: Files cannot be easily shared or accessed from remote locations. Portable hard drives can be lost or stolen, which may result in a privacy breach unless special steps have been taken to encrypt the hard drive. Hard drives can fail, and any files that are stored only on the hard drive can be lost.
- Use For: Backups of files from your computer. Hard drive should be encrypted by UIS if any FERPA protected information or HIPAA protected information (see below) will be backed up.
Box (box.com) is the on-line file storage and sharing provided by UIS for all employees and students. Box uses a secure web connection. Students, employees, and University departments each receive access to unlimited storage spaces. Box can be accessed at https://pacific.app.box.com/. For Box help documentation, see Technology Help Resources.
- Pros: Stored files can be accessed from anywhere with a web browser and many common file formats can also be edited within the web browser. The system is secure enough for the storage of legally protected information and Pacific has a Business Associates Agreement with Box for the storage of HIPAA protected information. Files can be easily shared with others. University computers can be configured to use Box Sync, allowing for automatic synchronization of files between the university computer and the online storage at Box.com. Box has UIS’ highest level of support (see Service Level Agreement for Computer Support: Support Levels).
- Cons: One file cannot be edited simultaneously by multiple people. Users do not retain access after leaving Pacific.
- Use For: Backups of important documents and spreadsheets. Files shared within a department (but that do not need to be edited concurrently). Files containing FERPA or HIPAA protected information (see below).
Google Drive is an online file storage and sharing system provided by Google. Every student and employee’s PUnet ID is linked to a Google account with unlimited storage. Employees should access Google Drive via https://boxerapps.pacificu.edu/.
- Pros: Unlimited storage space. Documents and spreadsheets can be shared in a way that multiple people can edit them simultaneously.
- Cons: Google is not secure enough for the storage of HIPAA protected information (see below).
- Use For: Online collaboration of non-FERPA or HIPAA protected information.
Moodle is a learning management system, used primarily by instructors to share information, activities and discussions with their students. Moodle can also be used for committees, working groups and clubs. Moodle can be accessed via https://moodle.pacificu.edu/. For Moodle help documentation, see the Center for Educational Technology and Curricular Innovation’s Moodle resources.
- Pros: Files stored in a Moodle course can be accessed only by enrollees in that course.
- Cons: Storage space on Moodle is limited. Once placed on Moodle, files cannot be easily edited.
- Use For: Distribution of small files (e.g. Word documents, PDFs) for use by a class, club, committee or working group.
Some use email as a file storage system, for example by emailing themselves copies of documents.
- Pros: A quick and easy solution, utilizing systems one already uses on a daily basis.
- Cons: Employee email space is very limited (2 GB). The size of attachments that can be sent via email is also limited (as low as 5 MB depending on the sending and receiving systems). Email in transit is not encrypted (unless encrypted using an encryption system) and email stored in one’s inbox or sent items is accessible if one’s account credentials are compromised, so HIPAA or FERPA protected information should not be sent via email.
- Use For: Quick transfer of small files that do not have HIPAA or FERPA protected information.
Server File Shares
These are folders shared on UIS maintained servers. These are provided departments that have a specific need that is not met via the aforementioned systems. Email email@example.com to consult with someone about whether this system might meet special storage needs.
- Pros: Files can be accessed on these servers that cannot be accessed on other systems (e.g. FileMaker, InDesign).
- Cons: Can only be accessed from within university networks. Space usage may incur costs for departments.
- Use For: Files shared within a department that cannot be accessed via other storage methods (e.g. Filemaker databases).
Other Online Storage
There are many other online storage solutions (e.g. Box, DropBox, Crashplan) which are not officially supported by UIS and have not been evaluated to see if they meet security and privacy standards in order to store FERPA or HIPAA protected information on them.
- Pros: Many are already familiar with these services from personal use or use at previous institutions.
- Cons: Not supported by UIS. FERPA and HIPAA protected information should not be stored on these services.
- Use For: No use of these services by employees is recommended at this time.
FERPA Protected Information
Includes social security numbers, passport information, bank card information, birthdates, grades or Boxer IDs.
HIPAA Protected Information
Includes any medical or health information. HIPAA protected items include:
- Address information smaller than a state, including street address, city, county, zip code (except if by combining all zip codes with the same initial three digits, there are more than 20,000 people)
- Names of relatives and employers
- All element of dates (except year), including DOB, admission date, discharge date, date of death; and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates including year indicative of such age except that such ages and elements may be aggregated into a single category of age 90 or older
- Telephone numbers
- Fax numbers
- Email addresses
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Medical record number
- Health beneficiary plan number
- Account numbers
- Certificate/License Number
- Vehicle identifiers, including license plate numbers
- Device ID and serial number
- Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
- Identifier Protocol (IP) addresses
- Biometric identifiers
- Full face photographic images and other comparable images
- Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code.