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Network Drive Network Storage

The Division of Engineering Computing Services provides network storage to all Engineering account holders. We have a wide variety of storage spaces available that are backed-up regularly. DECS recommends that every faculty, staff and student make use of this storage. All university data should be stored on a network drive and if at all possible, avoid saving files to the local computer. If you have any questions, please contact DECS at


Each user is provided with a personal storage drive, otherwise known as the M: drive. The drive by default has 5Gb of storage space.


DECS also provides faculty with an option for research space. Research space allows faculty to have a shared collaboration space between other engineering faculty and students. DECS works with faculty to design a research space that meets the research needs.


Department offices have a shared network space, known as the Office Drive or O:Drive. Office space is available to departmental administrative personnel and is created by a request from the department office. Access to this space is controlled through various mechanisms to restrict/allow access to materials or directories. 

How To Share Data with Outside CollaboratorsOwnCloud

At some point, you may need to share files with someone outside of Michigan State University. While there are many online collaboration services such as Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, MSU and the College of Engineering currently do not have an agreement with any one provider. This means no online storage provider meets MSU's Data Policy.  While you can use an online storage provider, you will be responsible to make sure that you do not violate this policy. DECS also has limited to no ability to help you if your data is lost and wasn't stored on a DECS server.

However, MSU and the College of Engineering have two ways to share data with outside collaborators:

  • OwnCloud: OwnCloud is a tool similar to Dropbox but provided by DECS to allow groups to exchange files with people outside the College of Engineering. This space is created by a request from a faculty or staff member. OwnCloud space is also backed up according to DECS' Backup policy. If you accidentally delete a file in your OwnCloud directory, DECS has the ability to recover the deleted file. If you have any questions regarding OwnCloud, please contact the DECS Support Office at
  • MSU FileDepot: FileDepot is a convenient way to share files. It allows someone to drop off a file and the requested person can pick up the file at their convenience. After a set period of time, the file will be removed from the server. If you're only sharing a file one time, FileDepot is a great option.

What is a Backup?Backup Icon

A backup is a procedure for making extra copies of data in case the original data is either lost, stolen or damaged. DECS automatically backs up any file saved on your personal M:drive, the office drives and research drives. DECS has configured our network storage drives to be backed up in two ways, snapshots and tape.

A snapshot is a read-only copy of the entire file system and all the files. Each one reflects the state of the file system at the time the snapshot was created. You can navigate through each snapshot as if it were active. Your directories and files will appear as they were at the time the snapshot was taken. Snapshots are taken every hour.

Full backups are completed monthly, incremental backups are done weekly, and differential backups done nightly. All are written to tape and stored according to their retention schedule.

What is Not Backed-up by DECS?

DECS does not back up any data stored locally on a computer. This means if you are using an office computer and saving your files to your desktop or Documents folder, none of those files are being backed up. Therefore, if you hard drive fails, you will lose all of your saved files. DECS also does not back up any spaces designated as temp, tmp, or scratch. This is why DECS recommends you save any university material to appropriate network drives.

External Hard DrivesExternal Hard Drive

External hard drives are affordable ways to expand a computer's storage capacity. However, there are several downsides to them. The first one is that if the hard drive is connected to the computer, the external hard drive is vulnerable to any viruses or ransomware your computer is exposed to. So if your computer becomes infected, you could lose all your data to the malware. The second downside is that unless you have an external storage unit with multiple hard drives, you still have a single point of failure. That means if the hard drive in your external hard drive fails, you could lose all your data. The third downside is that since the drive is not managed or supported by DECS, it limits our ability to recover any lost data. DECS strongly encourages use of Engineering network storage space instead.


Traveling with University DataTraveling with University Data

At some time, you may need to travel with university data. DECS recommends that you do not travel with your own laptop and only travel with the minimum amount of data. Some types of data or certain software could put you at legal risk if you cross international borders. You also run the risk of loss or exposure of information you take with you. Michigan State University has a policy regarding the storage of university data. Make sure that that you are following the University Data Policy when traveling with university data. If you need additional files while you are gone, DECS recommends accessing our network storage drives through our VPN. The Division of Engineering Computing Services also provides a series of checkout laptops available through our Support Office. The checkout laptops come with our standard application package. If you need additional software, please specify the requested software in your Laptop Reservation request.

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