Thursday, June 18, 2015

Where Is That File?


"File" by GotCredit is licensed under CC by 2.0.

ESSD40 staff and students now have access to a variety of file storage options.  Choosing which to use may be a bit confusing at times while educational institutions take advantage of the many options now available.  Here are some of my thoughts and suggestions.

Current Options

For ESSD40 staff and students, file storage and management can be grouped into two main categories, on the device and in the cloud.  I'm excluding network-attached storage in order to make this article a bit more simplified.

On the Device





The Computer
.  For ESSD40 this is a bit of a shell game.  Any file stored in the Libraries area of a Windows 7 computer is actually redirected to the district file servers.  The file is not really on the computer hard drive.  The exception to this rule is anything stored on the Desktop.  Those files exist solely on that computer.  Staff users are strictly limited to 4GB of storage, students to 500MB.










iPad.  By default, app data and related files are stored on the iPad itself.  Only when the iPad performs a backup to iCloud or the user purposely uploads a file to Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, etc, does a file get copied to cloud storage.




In the Cloud





Google Drive
.  Through Google Apps for Education, students and staff can store unlimited amounts of data in the Google Drive and may access those files from any Internet-connected device.












Office 365 OneDrive (aka Sky Drive).  Through the district's paid licensing and Microsoft's recent education licensing, staff and students have unlimited storage here as well.  Users may also access those files from any Internet-connected device.







iCloud.  Apple provides 5GB of backup storage per Apple ID for all Apple devices associated with the Apple ID.





Recommendations

These are recommendations only, not policy.  And I am certain they will change in at least 6 - 12 months!

Teaching Staff

  • Store all files in cloud storage.  If you choose to install Google Drive and/or OneDrive on your district computer, limit the number of synchronized folders.  Or, change the installation location of the Google Drive/OneDrive to the Desktop.  Otherwise you'll quickly exceed your file storage quota since the files are redirected to network storage.  See The Computer comments earlier.
  • Store files created for your district responsibilities in your district-provided cloud storage.  Store your completely person files in your personal cloud storage.  
  • Be certain that your iPad backs up regularly to iCloud. 


Students
  • Store all files in cloud storage.  Since students are not allowed permission to install software on district computers, students cannot install Google Drive/OneDrive.  Therefore, students should manually upload any documents created on the computer (and probably stored in the Libraries) to cloud storage at the end of each computer session.
  • Be certain the your iPad backs up regularly to iCloud.


Administrative Staff, Administrative Support Staff


  • Store most files in cloud storage.   If you choose to install Google Drive and/or OneDrive on your district computer, limit the number of synchronized folders.  Or, change the installation location of the Google Drive/OneDrive to the Desktop.  Otherwise you'll quickly exceed your file storage quota since the files are redirected to network storage.  See The Computer comments earlier.
  • Store highly confidential information or information the you wish to have the highest level of secured access in your U: drive (or Libraries).  Examples of this type include:
    • Any information with student or staff personal information such as birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, etc which, if were accessed by unauthorized users, would constitute a legal data breach.
    • Financial or payroll information
    • Proprietary or copyrighted information owned by the district
    • Health insurance or medical information

Which Cloud Storage?

At the moment, I don't have a suggestion either way.  I use both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.  Google Drive works best with the Chrome web browser.  OneDrive works well with any browser.  OneDrive when installed via the Microsoft Office suite integrates seamlessly with Windows 7 and 8 operating systems, but has been somewhat difficult to setup.  And, OneDrive also integrates well with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with web versions of these available for use in OneDrive online.  My suggestion is to try both and compare then settle in with the one that works best for you and your situation.







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