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File Sharing at Northwestern

Northwestern provides a variety of University-managed file sharing and collaboration options. The University community may consider the Service Guidelines below to determine appropriate file sharing strategies to serve school and departmental needs based on information sensitivity.

Caution: When sharing and storing files, ensure access is limited to only individuals for whom the information is intended.

Usage Guidelines

Please be aware that all University policies must be followed when sharing files electronically. For the purpose of these guidelines, all University data will be referred to as public, internal, and legally/contractually restricted, as outlined in the University Data Access Policy.

References to sensitive data should be understood as any data of which the compromise of, with respect to confidentiality, integrity, and/or availability could adversely affect University interests, or the privacy to which individuals are entitled.

Service Guidelines

Please use the following guidelines to determine which service(s) best fits your institutional/business needs among faculty and students.

Data Type & Examples Northwestern Box SharePoint Research Data Storage Data Northwestern File Servers Google @u (Student Collaboration)

(e.g. calendar, course descriptions, maps, directory, approved census facts, audited financials)

Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Internal: Non-Sensitive
(e.g. meeting agendas, project documents, team building event)
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Internal: Sensitive
(e.g. salary plans, employment data, budgets, donor information, IRB data, CTEC, patent information)
No Yes Yes Yes No
Legally/Contractually Restricted
(e.g. PHI, SSN, PII, student records, medical records)
No Yes Yes Yes No

Northwestern Box

Northwestern Box provides unlimited cloud storage for individual files up to 15 GB to faculty, staff, and students. Northwestern Box synchronizes documents across various devices and allows users to easily share folders or files. File sharing with members of the University community or external colleagues does not require a NetID.

Learn more information about this service at Northwestern Box.

Please note: Northwestern Box should not be used for legally or contractually restricted information.


Northwestern Share, the University's centrally-hosted Microsoft SharePoint® infrastructure, has many advanced collaboration and document sharing features. SharePoint is intended to store and share, internal, and legally or contractually restricted information. SharePoint is the preferred platform for administrative collaboration. University NetIDs are required to access SharePoint sites.

Local school and department "site owners" are able to design and manage SharePoint site(s) serving specific local faculty and staff collaboration needs.

Learn more information about how to access or request SharePoint site collections at the Collaboration Services SharePoint Overview.

Research Data Storage Service

Research Data Storage Service provides Northwestern researchers with a place to securely store and share research data. This service is available to faculty, staff, and students and complies with most legally and contractually restricted data policies. This storage is considered HIPAA compliant. Daily snapshots for file backup is available to the user, as well as daily replication to a remote cluster for disaster recovery is provided.

Northwestern File Servers

Northwestern securely maintained, on-campus file servers are an acceptable way to store public, internal, and legally or contractually restricted information. Schools and departments may use file servers to manage staff and/or faculty content using mapped network drives and can designate access on an individual, group, or departmental basis.

Consult with your local IT support team to determine whether or not this option is available within your work area. Designated technology staff interested in new file server hosting services in the University Data Center may learn more at Virtual Hosting Services.

Google @u Applications

The University's Google @u student collaboration suite can be used for file sharing among all undergraduate, graduate, and School of Professional Studies (SPS) students. Features include an option for designated faculty to share content with students within the Blackboard Course Management System.

This service is available to students and faculty for collaboration on public and internal non-sensitive information. File sharing with members of the University community or external colleagues does not require a NetID.

Learn more at the Overview.

Please note: Google @u should not be used for legally or contractually restricted information.

Last Updated: 27 January 2017

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