Storage options for faculty and staff: What, When, and Why

This is a draft - still under final discussion.  It can still be used as a starting point, though consult your department for more information


There are a lot of different storage options we have - between cloud storage, storing things on a computer's hard drive, flash drives, and even emailing files back and forth.  Many are unclear on what the right option for their files are.  This is meant to be a recommendation for faculty and staff as to the different options.  For each we'll cover 

  • What the different options are
  • Why you should use them for certain use cases
  • Why you should avoid them for other use cases

There is no one size fits all guidance that the University can provide that works for all faculty/staff in all departments.  This is meant to be a starting point.  We would encourage departments/schools/divisions to have conversations within their respective areas and set their own requirements for what should be stored where.  Feel free to consult with ITS when developing those standards.

Common Use Cases

Below are some common use cases.  More details on each option are later in the article.

I want to store: New Paltz Recommends

Course materials (presentations, exams, articles, etc.)

OneDrive for your primary copy.

Brightspace for when you need to make them accessible to your students


Research files



Documents, files, etc. that don't need to be shared with others in my department or at the University.

OneDrive - in folders that you do not share.

Documents, files, etc. that are for your department/committee/group - and important to the department


Teams or SharePoint


Files containing sensitive data, including student data or grades

OneDrive - in non-shared files/folders

Teams or SharePoint - but in restricted areas that are only accessible to those who need access (not the entire department in most situations).

Please contact for a consultation about best practices about securing sensitive data (including retention policies and practices).


Files which I am sharing with colleagues at New Paltz - but for short-term use


OneDrive - share individual files or folders with colleagues.

If this is a long term project, a committee, working group, etc., a Teams site would make more sense here.

Files which I am sharing with colleagues at other institutions

OneDrive - share individual files (or a whole folder containing files related to a specific topic or project)

Note: These files will live on your OneDrive.  If you leave the University, even if you've shared files with others, those shares will no longer work once you leave.  If these are files that your department or committee needs, please use Teams or SharePoint instead.

Personal files unrelated to your work at the University


These should not be stored on University services.  You should store these on your personal (non-University) devices, and/or external cloud storage services that you sign up for or pay for personally.

The University is not responsible for protecting personal files on University storage services.  University computers and cloud storage services are subject to freedom of information laws, litigation, and may be accessible by others at the University with proper approval.  For all these reasons, we implore you to keep your personal files on personal non-University storage/services.

Where NOT to save your files

  • Email - as tempting as it is to keep important files by emailing them around, email is not meant as a file storage system.  It is recommended to save important files that you receive in your email, that you expect to need later, in one of these file storage services listed below.
  • Local Hard Drive (typically the C drive on Windows, including the computer's Desktop and Documents folders) - Your computer's hard drive is not being backed up by Information Technology Services.  The drive could fail at any time, and if something happens to your computer you may lose your data.  Unlike OneDrive or Teams, accessing your files from another location (from classroom, your phone, or your home computer) is not possible or cumbersome.
  • A USB hard drive or flash drive - portable drives are easily lost, stolen, or could have a hardware failure.
  • External cloud storage services - Services like Dropbox, Google Drive (including Hawkmail), iCloud, etc., should not be used to storage University data without special exceptions (see the Other Cloud Storage Services for more information).  These are fine for personal files.



What is OneDrive?

OneDrive is is Microsoft's individual cloud storage service.  It is available in personal and professional versions.  The personal version you would get directly from Microsoft, and the professional version, which is offered via New Paltz.  We are referring to the latter version here - not the one you acquire directly from Microsoft.

If you've been at New Paltz a while, this is the equivalent of the on-premises "F" network drive.  Unlike the F drive, you can access OneDrive anywhere you have an Internet connection

Files in your OneDrive are typically only available to you unless you share files or folders within them to others.  You can share files and folders, but they still live in your OneDrive account.  If you leave New Paltz (including due to retirement) your OneDrive will become inaccessible.

OneDrive is easily accessible via:

For more information, see this OneDrive quick start guide from Microsoft.


What is OneDrive recommended for?

  • Work related files - that you are the primary or exclusive user of.
  • For teaching faculty, this could include your research, course materials, student work that has been submitted, etc.
  • For administrators, including department chairs, and directors, this could also include personnel files of your staff that are not meant to be shared.
    • Note: This may be more appropriate for a private channel within Microsoft Teams that only the department chair/directory has access to.  This allows files/folders to carry over between department leadership changes, or if the files should be accessible by the department leader and administrative assistant.  Contact ITS for more info.


What should you avoid it for?

Sharing files in OneDrive is useful if you want to give someone temporary access to a file, but if ongoing collaboration or access is needed, Microsoft Teams is a better option.

Because of this, files/folders that your department (or committee, group, etc.) relies upon should not be kept in OneDrive.  This includes files which others in your department may need access to while you are away on short-term leave (vacation, medical, sabbatical, etc.) or long-term (have left the University due to retirement, resignation, lottery winnings, etc.).  For files that others in the department need, we recommend Teams or SharePoint (see below).



What are Teams and SharePoint?

Teams and SharePoint are both cloud storage tools (and in the case of Teams can do a lot of other things like chat, email, etc.) meant for sharing and collaboration among groups.

You could have a team for your department, a team for your committee, or even a team for your division.

What's the difference between Teams and SharePoint?

This has caused a lot of confusion unfortunately.  Teams is a grouping of tools including file storage, as well as other tools like chat, shared calendars, etc.  The file storage within Teams is actually SharePoint.

In general we recommend Teams instead of vanilla SharePoint sites.  Why?

  • Teams uses channels to organize permissions.  Some examples of why private channels would be used:
    • A private channel for the department chair/director (and possibly associate/assistant directors if you have any) and the department's administrative assistants.  This is where budget info, personnel documents, and other files which the entire department may not need (or should not have) access to.
    • Subgroups for larger departments.  For example, our Information Technology Services Team, has channels for our Telecommunications, Administrative Computing, and other groups.  A team for Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, may have channels for each language taught in the department.
  • The general channel of the team is accessible to all members of the team.
  • See our Managing Teams article for more information about organization of teams.

For the most part we only create Teams sites for departments.


What is Teams recommended for?

Files/folders that your department, committee, or group needs.

What should you avoid it for

Files/folders that no one in the department/team will ever need other than you.

Sensitive data should not be stored in Teams without consultation with Information Security (contact to setup a meeting).


General Notes

  • Never store sensitive University data (as defined by the Confidential Information Policy) in external cloud storage services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.).  This includes Google Drive on Hawkmail if you are one of the few faculty/staff with Hawkmail accounts.
  • Avoid using external cloud storage (including the personal version of OneDrive that is not through your New Paltz account) for work related to New Paltz.  There are exceptions:
    • If you are working on research with people at other institutions (and the lead researcher's institution uses another cloud service). In this case, you should only use the external service for that particular research - not for other New Paltz information.
    • If you are a faculty member and would like to keep a backup copy of your research, course materials, etc. (not student work or grade info) you may keep a copy on an external/personal cloud storage service.  This should NEVER include sensitive University data.  If your research includes sensitive University data, please contact Internal Controls for any questions or clarifications.
    • If you have technical issues that make OneDrive unsuitable for your needs, please contact Information Technology Services.  Note: These are extremely rare and almost always fixable with assistance from Information Technology Services.
  • Consult your department chair, director, or dean, for guidelines or policies in your area.  They should supplement these best practices (for example, your department may say keep all documents related to X in Teams).
  • If you are sharing files for a short-term, sharing from your OneDrive is fine.  If you are working on a longer-term project (for a committee, interdisciplinary project, etc.) Teams would be the better option.
  • If you are storing sensitive data in any cloud storage service (including those provided by the University) please contact for a consultation about best practices to ensure this data is protected.
  • Your department may, with the approval of Human Resources, Diversity, and Inclusion, gain access to files and folders on your OneDrive.  This is rarely requested or granted - but is typically done when faculty/staff store files essential to the department in their OneDrive instead of Teams/SharePoint (and the individual is unavailable, or no longer working for the University).
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Article ID: 148350
Wed 12/21/22 9:34 AM
Tue 2/21/23 3:39 PM

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