Information ServicesCompare file storage options

**Strathcloud was decommissioned on 31 August 2023.

Storage options

Staff and postgraduate researchers have many options when it comes to storing files:

For a quick and easy guide to choosing between the above systems, please use our File Storage Selector tool.

Staff and postgraduate researchers may require more detail than the File Storage Selector tool provides.  If this applies to you, then please continue reading this page.

Our full comparison table below will help you select the best system for your needs. You may prefer to choose just one system, and then keep all your data in one place. Or, you may prefer to spread your data across more than one system.

If you are a researcher looking to archive/publish post-project data which will not change, then PURE may be the right option for you.

Storage options and their features

FeatureH; and i: Network DrivesSharePointMicrosoft TeamsOneDrive
On-site or cloud storage On-site Cloud Cloud Cloud 
Replicated between separate locations 


Two University buildings


Three locations in Microsoft datacentres


Three locations in Microsoft datacentres


Three locations in Microsoft datacentres
Supported client platforms
  • Mac
  • Unix
  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Mac
  • Unix
  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Mac
  • Unix
  • Windows
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Mac
  • Unix
  • Windows
Accessible off-site Yes (but less easy) Yes Yes Yes
Sync with local machine No Yes (except Unix) Yes (except Unix) Yes (except Unix) 
Suitable for individual data (i.e. not shared) H: drive No No Yes
Suitable for group data (shared with defined members of a group) i: drive Yes Yes short-term sharing only 
Possible to share with external collaborators i: drive Yes Yes short-term sharing only 
Scalability (i.e. how much data can I put on it) Very large Large Large Medium 
User interface Basic/simple Very rich Very rich Rich 
Self-service restores Yes Yes Yes Yes
“Checkout” of documents No Yes Yes No
Need input from local/Faculty IT staff to get started?

H: drive, no

i: drive, yes

No No No
Main target audience Staff/PGRs Staff/PGRs All users All users 
Performance (speed of upload/download) Very fast Medium Medium Medium 


Explanatory notes

The University has made a large investment in on-site storage, which is used mainly by the H: and i: network drives.

SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive are all hosted in the University's tenancy in the Microsoft cloud.

The University regards the Microsoft cloud as part of its corporate storage, and it is therefore suitable for use by students, staff and visitors. From the University’s point of view, it is also suitable for use by external collaborators : please note that external requirements of collaborators, funders, and data providers should also be taken into consideration, when deciding where to store information.

The University considers Microsoft cloud systems to be suitable for storing confidential information, including personal information and commercially sensitive information. The University’s Cyber Security Data Classification Standards state that SharePoint, Microsoft Teams and OneDrive are suitable for High, Medium and Low classifications of data.

Data is replicated between buildings, so that if an entire datacentre or building is lost (for example, due to fire), then the copy in the other building can be brought online. In the unlikely event of this happening, a maximum of 15 minutes-worth of the most recent changes may be lost, but all other data will be intact.

We automatically map network drives on Windows computers in the University's DS domain. Network drives can be manually mapped from Windows machines outside the DS domain. You can also access network drives from Unix, Macs and mobile devices.

SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive use a web interface, so are accessible from anywhere. They can also be accessed using File Explorer, if you have set them up to sync with your local PC. Teams can also be accessed using the Teams client.

You can access network drives off-site by a variety of methods, as described on the network drives page.

You can access SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive when off-campus using the same interfaces as when you're on-campus.

Although all services can be accessed online from anywhere in the world, you may also want to have an up-to-date copy on your local machine.

Network drives offer limited support for this, on Windows only, using the “offline files” feature. We advise you to check with your faculty/departmental IT support before enabling this, as some departments use offline files, while others recommend against it. “Offline files” syncs data both ways, but will only work if your client machine is on-campus. If you go off-campus, you will still have a local copy of your data, but it will not sync with the server again until you come back on campus.

SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive fully support sync with the local machine, on and off campus, on all platforms except Unix.

Network drives facilitate both individual data (through the H: drive), and shared/group data (through the i: drive).

SharePoint and Teams are targeted at shared/group data.

OneDrive is targeted at individual data, though it can be used for informal or short-term sharing. Note that if you share files from OneDrive, and then later leave the University, then the files will no longer be accessible to the people you shared them with, as your OneDrive gets deleted at the same time as your user account.

All systems except H: drive support sharing with external collaborators.

For the i: drive, the external users should first be registered with a “limited access account” in the University’s active directory. Please contact your local/departmental IT support in the first instance, if you require accounts to be created for external collaborators.

For SharePoint, Teams and OneDrive, there is no need to contact IT to get an account created for your external collaborators, and you can share directly with them. Note that in the case of SharePoint, you may first need to get external sharing enabled on your site.

Users should think carefully about the amount of data they have, when choosing a system. H: drive quotas start at 50GB for staff and PGRs, 2GB for under-grads, and can easily be increased on request. i: drive quotas vary enormously, and several departments/groups have quotas of tens/hundreds of terabytes, again these can easily be increased on request. Network Drives are therefore the best option for very large amounts of data.

SharePoint and Teams are also highly scalable, and each site/team can contain up to 25 TB.

On OneDrive, every user has a quota of 1 TB by default, and this can be increased to 5 TB on request to the IT Helpdesk, once you have used more than 500 GB of your initial quota.

Interacting with Network Drives is identical to interacting with files/folders on your local machine. For some purposes, this has an appealing simplicity. For other purposes, the lack of ability to annotate, link, and present the data is a limitation.

By contrast, SharePoint has a rich interface. It is almost infinitely customisable if you have the requisite knowledge. Training may be advisable, if you want to use SharePoint to its full potential.

Teams also has a rich interface, offering many additional features. These include one-to-one chat, collaboration through channels, video calls, Planner, and plugins for further apps. OneDrive has a user-friendly interface similar to Dropbox, which most users will master fairly quickly.

If you delete a file, or want to revert to an earlier version, you can do this on all systems.

SharePoint and OneDrive provide this through the web interface, so it can be done on all platforms.

Teams provides this through the web interface or Teams client.

Network Drives provide this through the Windows client, through the “Previous versions” feature.

This can be a useful feature when you're working from a shared folder, and you want to avoid clashes, from two people editing a file at the same time. Supported on SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.

For individual data, you can get started straight away, using either your Network Drives (H: drive), or your personal space in OneDrive, these will be set up for you in advance.

For shared data on the i: drive, you need someone in local/departmental IT support to initially set you up with a shared folder/area, or to grant you permissions on an existing shared folder/area.

For Teams, you can create your own teams, and define who will be in them. Similarly, on Sharepoint, you can create your own sites, and define who will have permissions on them.

Network drives have been available for many years, and H: drives are currently used by all types of user, including undergrad, postgrad and staff. i: drive has tended to be used mainly by staff. In future, network drives are likely to be most used by researchers with large amounts of data, with other users moving towards OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint.

OneDrive, Teams and SharePoint are available and suitable for all users, including both staff and students.

Please do not save important work on memory sticks/USB flash drives. You can lose them very easily, and they are a risk to cyber security.