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IT Help and Support

University Information Services

The following storage services are available for teams and groups who want to work collaboratively on files and documents: 

  • Shared drives on the University network: Most departments and institutions have shared drives where you can store documents and files. Your local IT staff can also purchase additional storage from the Institutional File Store (IFS) service on your behalf. These drives are only available when you’re working onsite in the University or using the University Virtual Private Network (VPN). 
  • SharePoint:  A SharePoint Team site allows you to work collaboratively on documents within a team or a group. Documents saved in a SharePoint Team site will also be available to the rest of your team after you leave the University. Every Microsoft Team has a SharePoint Team site for you to store shared documents.  
  • Google Drive: You can use the shared drives in Google's cloud-based file hosting service. These are for files and folders your team collaborates on and accesses often. You can store up to 500GB.
  • Dropbox: Dropbox's paid-for cloud-based file hosting service offers 5TB of storage for each shared drive, available to Cambridge students and staff at a discounted rate. 


We recommend SharePoint Team sites

University Information Services (UIS) recommends using a SharePoint Team site linked to a Team in Microsoft Teams for storing everyday documents. SharePoint integrates with Office 365 including Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook. It is also free, offers generous storage space and you can use it when working remotely.  

If you only need a SharePoint site to store documents, you can request a new Microsoft Team. A SharePoint Team site gets created in the background. A SharePoint communication site is more like an intranet site with web pages as well as file storage. It’s harder to manage permissions for these sites. We wouldn’t recommend storing documents here unless they are intended for a larger audience. 

What you need to consider before requesting a SharePoint Team site 

You must ensure that you have set up site permissions correctly so that your files are restricted. We recommend that you restrict the site sharing permissions and add a shortcut to your shared SharePoint folders in your personal OneDrive. It’s easier to manage your permissions this way. 

SharePoint Team sites are not suitable for: 

  • research data 
  • health data where individual patients are named or can be identified
  • data that is subject to a specific contractual agreement that specifies a particular storage method (that is not SharePoint)
  • data that is subject to a specific contractual agreement that prohibits storage in a public cloud service

If you regularly need to share documents with people who don’t work at the University then Google Drive or Dropbox might be more suitable. This is because it’s easier to share links to documents with external users using these services.  


Compare storage services 

Remote access 

  • Shared network drives: it varies, you can access some shared drives using the University VPN. Check with your local IT team.  
  • SharePoint Team site: yes 
  • Google Drive: yes 
  • Dropbox: yes 

Sharing documents

  • Shared network drives: yes, but only within your department. You will need to speak to your local IT team if you have restricted documents that should not be available to the wider department.  
  • SharePoint Team site: yes, you can share internally and externally. People outside of the University who are invited to collaborate on documents will need to set up multi-factor authentication to access shared documents. It is important that you set up your SharePoint site permissions correctly so that your documents are being shared more widely than you intended.  
  • Google Drive: yes, you can share internally and externally.  
  • Dropbox: yes, you can share internally and externally. 


  • Shared network drives: free unless using the UIS Institutional File Store (IFS). Check with your local IT team.
  • SharePoint Team site: free 
  • Google Drive: free 
  • Dropbox: £120 excluding VAT (per year)

Storage space 

  • Shared network drives: varies, check with your local IT team 
  • SharePoint Team site: ITB 
  • Google Drive: 500GB 
  • Dropbox: 5TB

How long you can recover files 

  • Shared network drives: varies, check with your local IT team 
  • SharePoint Team site: 90 days 
  • Google Drive: 30 days 
  • Dropbox: 180 days 

Where data is stored 

  • Shared network drives: Cambridge data centres 
  • SharePoint Team site: UK data centres 
  • Google Drive: Worldwide (EU-US Privacy Shield)
  • Dropbox: EU data centres 


Each storage service has been assessed for the type of data that it can securely store. The University uses 4 levels to classify the data along with the impact of the data being disclosed, lost, modified or destroyed. You can see the full list of data security classifications which explains each level and impact. 

  • Shared network drives: medium impact data (level 2)
  • SharePoint Team site: high impact data (level 2). This is only for SharePoint sites linked to a Microsoft Team with carefully managed permissions. SharePoint communication sites used for intranets with wider audiences are recommended for low impact data (level 1).
  • Google Drive: high impact data (level 2)
  • Dropbox: medium impact data (level 2)

You can also find out more about encrypting devices used to store data


Get access to these services