Securing Data Files: Using Your U Drive

Securing Data Files: Using Your U Drive 


What I need to know and do? 

All of us have data files we work with every day, and many of us store this on our hard drives, USB drives, or a portable hard drive and sometimes on our personal devices.  However, there is a better, more secure place to store them – your U drive.  

Some of your data is highly confidential or at least sensitive, and the College has a new policy to ensure that college data is being accessed, stored and transmitted securely by July 1, 2016.  Data Classification Policy .   

Your U drive meets all of the security requirements in this policy.  So, to ensure that you are safely securing your data files, you need to move all college files to your U drive.  

What is a U drive and department shares drive? 

Information Resources provides a network drive (U drive) to each faculty and staff member for storing files. The contents of this network drive are centrally backed up by Information Resources nightly. A department share drive is a shared network drive on college servers where faculty or staff can store data and the rest of their department can have access to it. 

Why do I need to save my files on my U drive instead of my hard drive or USB drive? 

Data security is a top priority for the campus.  Recently the President’s Cabinet passed a new Data Classification Policy that requires all campus employees to securely store, access and transmit confidential and sensitive data.  Your U drive and department share drive have been designated as the safest and best place for you to store your college data.  Instead of asking each user to review a complex set of rules to assess the security requirements for each file, we have added storage to the shares server, so you can easily store all of your college data in this secure location.   

What are the benefits of storing my files on my U drive and department share? 

U drives and department shares are accessible everywhere from any computer on campus or off. For example, if you work on a PowerPoint presentation in your office and save it to your U drive, it can be accessed from a computer anywhere on campus as long as you have authenticated (logged in) with your username and password. When you’re not on a campus, you can VPN into your shared drives and securely access your files. 

Backed Up Automatically: 

All files on your U drive and department share are automatically backed up twice daily and archived nightly. Archives are stored for one month. Backing up your files is critical. If your hard drive fails, and you haven’t made a recent backup, there’s a good chance that your files can not be recovered. With your files stored on the U drive, should you need to recover a file, The Help Center will be able to recover most files, as long as they are stored on the shares server. 

U drives and department shares are more secure than any hard drive, portable hard drive, USB drive or personal device. U drives and department shares are on SUNY Cortland servers protected with a strong firewall from viruses and malware. Confidential and sensitive data created by software systems, departments or individuals and kept on the U drive or a department share are provided secure storage to meet requirements of the Data Classification Policy.  

Can I store my personal data (iTunes, photos, etc.) on my U drive? 
No, your U drive and department share are only for college data. 

What about research data? 
If you have research data, please contact The Help Center, and we will work with you on a secure location to store your data. 

How do I save new files to my U drive? 

Once connected to your U drive, you can save your new files to a folder on your U drive by selecting the path to the U drive instead of the My Documents folder current folder path. The Help Center can help you move any existing files or set up the U drive as the default save location.  

How do I move my files to my U drive or department share? 
To move files to the U drive on the PC, follow these steps (PC):

  1. Right-click the file name
  2. Select Send To:
    2a.Select the U drive path Username (\\\\shares\\home\\myRedDragonUsername) (U:)
    2b.Or select the department share path (\\\\shares\\(departmentshare)

To move files to the U drive on the PC, follow these steps (Mac):

  1. Open the Finder window
  2. Locate the file to be moved.
  3. Drag and drop the file to the U drive icon

Contact The Help Center at 607-753-2500 if further assistance is needed. 

How to access your U drive from your computer or from another campus computer? 
Your U drive and department share are on a secure server managed by Information Resources. When you are logged into a campus Windows computer, you should automatically have your U drive under My Computer. If you need to access your U drive from another computer (i.e., teacher’s station in a classroom), an Apple Mac, please do the following: 



Mapping Network Drives on a PC (How to Guide): 

  1. Click on the Windows Start button
  2. Select Computer or My Computer on the right side of the menu
  3. Select Map network drive from the upper menu
  4. In the Folder field:
    4a.To find your shared drive, type \\\\shares\\home\\myRedDragonUsername 
    To find another shared network drive, type \\\\shares\\FolderName
  5. Select the check-box for Reconnect at logon
  6. Click Finish 


Contact The Help Center at 607-753-2500 if further assistance is needed. 



Mapping Network Drives on a Mac (How To Guide): 

  1. Open Finder
  2. Click the toolbar option Go and select Connect to Server
  3. In the Server Address field:
  4. To find your shared drive:
    4a.Type smb://shares/home$/myRedDragonUsername
    To find another shared network drive, type smb://shares/home$/myRedDragonUsername
  5. Select the "+" option to save the shares drive to your Favorite Servers list
  6. Click Connect  


Contact The Help Center at 607-753-2500 if further assistance is needed.

How do I access my U drive from off-campus? 
When not on campus, you can VPN into your shared drives to access them securely. Below are instructions on how to install and log into the VPN: 

VPN Installation Instructions


Other Questions:

Is it secure to work on Blackboard remotely?

  • Yes, Blackboard services, which are hosted on campus, are secured using encrypted communication protocols commonly known as SSL.  All communication with your device, computer, tablet and/or phone is encrypted while plugged in to a network connection directly or secure wireless connection.

Are emails that are sent to students secure?

  • Student emails to and from faculty, which use the email address, fall under Office 365.  This service provided by Microsoft is governed under a SUNY wide contract which has specific protections related to FERPA and data security. Those emails are already secured.  

 Can I send student grade info to a student upon request via email?

  • Yes, but should only be sent to a address.  Information Resources cannot verify the secure identity nor the delivery of messages to email addresses.

 Does research data with no PII need to be stored securely?

  • Technically, that can be on a local hard drive. However, Information Resources would like to have a conversation about the safety of that data in terms of backups.  Even "rolledup" or "anonymized" data can be harmful to the reputation of the faculty member or institution if compromised?

Does research data with PII need to be stored securely?

  • PII can be different things. Some research with PII can be governed by law, if this is the case, that data absolutely needs to be stored on a Cortland server (U drive, shares drive or other Cortland server).  Information Resources will help anyone who deals with this type of research. Often the presence of PII is enough to put it at a level which needs to be stored on a Cortland server, however, when combined with other data elements it raises to a level where additional security may be required. Especially when dealing with children under 13 years old, health data, etc. Please contact Information Resources if working with PII data.

Do electronic files of graded papers need to be stored securely?

  • These should be stored on a U drive or Shares drive.

 Do electronic files of papers not graded (keep for assessment or records reasons) need to be stored securely?

  • This may fall under FERPA due to a student’s names or information being on it.

Department Assessment files – which may contain PII but do not contain “grades”

  • It is best practice to store department assessment files that may contain PII to a secure location such as the U drive or Shares drive.

Back-up hard drives not connected to your computer and kept in your locked office

  • Backup hard drives, even under lock and key, can have a tremendous amount of data on them.  That data would be better in a secure environment. Typical external drives are also very prone to physical failures, dropped or even bumped drives can result in loss of data. However, Information Resources would like to work with faculty and staff to make sure their data is safe. Some faculty and staff have more data than a U drive can allow, but it does not mean IR cannot work with them on a safe storage solution. Please contact Information Resources if you have questions about data security or storage solutions.

For more information, please visit  




Rev: 3/1/16 

Contact Information

Associate Provost: Lisa Kahle
Secretary: Heather Drew
Phone: 607-753-5942

Memorial Library, B-304
PO Box 2000
Cortland NY, 13045