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See also:

File Formats


File System


Journaling File System 


LEARN, The Catalogue


Post a question to Media Centre


File storage is the method of storing and organising data in a particular location, such as your hard drive or USB drive.  The storage method used is usually supposed to be as easy and logical as possible so that files can easily be found and accessed.  There are various locations for storing your files, both portable and network based.  These and other issues to do with file storage are explained below.

Portable storage:

Portable storage is easy and efficient.  One major risk associated with portable storage drives is that of loss.  Due to the drive's portability it is naturally small, some only 3cm long, and this increases the possibility of losing it.

USB Drives
Also called memory sticks/pen drives and flash drives are the smallest common portable drives.  Drive space ranges from 1GIG to 16GIG and prices hover around the 20-40 NZD mark.  The great advantage of these drives is their relative cheapness and the fact that you can keep them in your back pocket without any hassle.  One other considerable advantage of USB drives is that they are usually under 16 GIG.  This means that it is not necessary to format the drive and thus it can be used on both Mac and Windows operating systems without running into any problems.  Larger disks need formatting specific to one or other of the operating systems which can complicate file sharing and mobility when roaming about studio.

External hard drives
These are usually larger drives both in terms of dimensions and available storage space.  Some external hard drives now come with specific third party backing up software and file management software.  Storage space is constantly increasing and at present (Mar. 2010) a range of about 250 GIG through to 1 TERA. 

Formatting your drive
Often larger drives will need to be formatted. Various applications take care of this process and will format the disc according to certain data storage needs.  Disc Utility on Mac is one such.  For more formatting information see the section below.

Local storage:

Local storage is the storage space located on the actual computer terminal at which you are working.  There are two main types.  The first, called U drive, is in fact quasi-network, but it's not on a server and so therefore can be considered more local than network.

U Drive Use
A user profile with your login in details will be created on the computer each time you login. This will include a custom Desktop, Downloads, My Documents etc under your login UPI. This is located on the computer¿s local drive, in the U:{color} drive .
Work you save on this will remain on the computer¿s hard-drive after you log off, meaning you are able to access the files again after logging back on to the same computer.
The folders created under your UPI can only be accessed by you.
1. Generally files should be saved to you ¿My 'My Documents ¿ ' folder.
2. Any resources you download will be placed in the ¿Downloads ¿ 'Downloads' folder.

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3. If you would like files to be accessed by more than one person \[more than one login UPI\] then they should be saved in the local share folder of the computer, however this folder is cleared if the computer is restarted.

U:\local share
U Drive Network Access
You can apply for network access to a folder on a hard drive.  You, and only you, can then access that folder from anywhere on the network.
1.     Choose a computer that is near where you normally work and write down the computer name.  The name is located on the front of the computer.  It will look something like 'ARCH-0123' or 'UOA255253'
2.     Go to the Helpdesk section of the SOAPPLAB website and follow the instructions for the'Request for network access to U drive' form.
3.     Log into any computer as yourself.
4.     Go to any window with an address bar and type in computer name
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and press \[ENTER\].
 Ex. \\arch-0123
5.     After the request has been processed (take about a day) you will see a folder with your UPI as its name.  And you¿re sussed.
NOTE: Remember that the U: drive is located on the local hard drive and not on any server.  This means that the X: drive is a hard drive inside the computer physically that you have designated, i.e.: inside computer called arch-0123.

C: drive
This is the primary hard drive of the machine at which you are working.  It is equivalent to the Hard disc on a Mac.  Remember, never save you files to the desktop.  If your machine crashes there is very limited (i.e. often none!) data recovery options available to you. 

The school has a system implemented in place to prevent tampering of the operating system. This means that any files or changes made to C: drive will be cleared when you log off the computer. The operating system will revert to its original state and thus it is advisable to not save work to C: drive.



Network storage:

Various servers are used around the School of Architecture and Planning.  Don¿t Don't be scared of them. 

Address bars
If you know the address of any place on the network (or the internet for that matter) you can type it into the address bar at anytime.


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Scratch is a folder on the network where everyone can store relatively small amounts of information for a little while.  This is good for moving files around.  But it gets cleaned out every few days so don¿t don't leave anything in there that you have not made a copy of. 
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Scratch can be accessed from the Media Centre home page \[using Internet Explorer\]. Or alternatively using Windows Explorer with the address:


The following information regarding NIMBUS is from the good people at The Lab.  To read more visit their site .

·         Introduction.  Nimbus has been set up to provide access to network based storage for students and courses in the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries (NICAI). Nimbus is available to people using MacOS, Windows and UNIX from anywhere on campus. The file server can also be accessed from off the campus network.  Nimbus is the resharing server in the NICAI XSAN -it delivers services to end users. An XSAN is a storage network technology developed by Apple that provides a way of organising large amounts of disk space distributed through numerous hard drives, so that it can be managed as a pool. This allows the construction of very large capacities of network storage.  In September 2008, we brought 32TB (32,000,000MB!) on line for student use. This capacity is delivered as a single volume and shared from nimbus as users.

·         Access.  Users hosts the personal network folders for ALL NICAI students. These are created automatically at the beginning of each semester. Folders are only created for students who are currently enrolled in papers within the academic departments of the faculty.  There are roughly 3000 folders in this hierarchy.  The folders in users are organised along the same lines as those provided via AFS for all students on campus by ITS: after connecting to users, your own folder will be found by browsing through the folder structure as follows:
                          starting at users,
                         open the folder matching the first letter of your UPI,
                         then the folder matching the second letter of your UPI,
                         and finally, open the folder named with your UPI
                         astu999 would find their personal folder by opening users,              
                         then folder a, then folder s
Access to the shared areas of this server is managed using the EC Active Directory: a network authentication environment distributing the usernames and passwords you use for logging in to the local Windows computers, NetAccount, nDeva, CECIL and various other services.
We describe this username and password combination as your EC Login or NetAccount credentials.  For further information on the EC Login, see EC Login: usernames and passwords for everyone.
Connect tonimbususing MacOS X
(this will work for computers on or off the campus network).
Connect tonimbususing Windows XP
(campus only)
Connect tonimbususing WinSCP
(access to nimbus from Windows computers not on the campus network)
Using the File Servers quick jump tool to connect to local servers

·         Is there a good reason for this confusing approach? The number of folders and files inside another folder affects how quickly that folder opens when being accessed from the network. The approach we have adopted of spreading folders through a hierarchy reduces the total number of folders any one person might have to browse in order to find their own.
In the past we subdivided network folders based on the chronological order in which people activated a space, and according to the courses they were doing. This current approach is more sensible longer term.
No folder with your name on it? Go to Request for personal server space.

·         Backup  Nimbus is backed up each week night. The system areas of nimbus are backed up, but we do not have the capacity to back up the areas where student files are stored. That said, the system itself is highly redundant, so data integrity is managed well -i.e. we are well protected from hardware failure. However, the system cannot protect you from your own actions -e.g. accidental deletion of files, etc.
Please ensure that you manage your own files prudently. Important material should be backed up on other media such as CD/DVDs or external hard drives.
We will make sure the data you put on the server is as safe as we can, but we cannot protect this from your own actions.

·         Rules and conditions  When you are no longer enrolled, your folder will probably be deleted after some suitable period of respite. The time period allowed will vary depending on the demand for server space.
Please note that faculty policy for other sorts of information (e.g. drawings, model submissions, etc), sets a retention period of 4 months.
At this time, any clean up will probably be done around the middle and end of each year, and we will delete folders belonging to people who have not enrolled in the current or previous semester.
There are no active scans made of the contents of these server areas except where a specific investigation is being undertaken. This would be infrequent and would normally happen after direct instruction from senior University management.  However, virus scanning, backups, and other automated processes may uncover executables, illegal material, etc and we will act on this on a case by case basis. You are bound by the University Computer Statute and various other regulations when using University equipment. This includes making use of server spaces.
See Rules and Guides for the use of facilities and services in the Lab for more detail about the regulations covering the use of IT in NICAI and the University.

·         To locate and access your NIMBUS folder from a terminal off the campus network (i.e. your home) follow these instructions.

REMEMBER: When using the network it is important to copy your work onto the ¿local¿ hard drive before you start working so that you are not working across the network.

Backing up:

Backing up your drives, especially your portable ones is an important aspect of digital practice.  The Lab provides good, though a little dated, information on this right here.

Especially with the rise of use of USB memory sticks/USB drives/flash drives and such the chance of losing the thing, owing to its smallness, or simply forgetting it somewhere, is high.  Therefore, pay special attention to backing up these drives on a regular basis to a stable static drive such as your home computer or NIMBUS.  Moreover, it is good practice to tag your USB drive with your name/cell phone number so that it can be returned to you if found.  Some people also include an ¿If Found¿ Word DOC on the top layer of the drive with detailed contact information in the case of loss. 

 Bearing in mind how quickly backing up can multiply files and therefore data on your stable home drive it is necessary to make sure you replace files and folders with the newer versions as you back up, rather than just making a new copy and keeping the older version as well.  This makes things easier when you are trying to locate a file (which version is the most recent, you don¿t have to check each file¿s details) it also, as noted, saves precious data storage space on your drive.  Wikipedia gives info here and this random site gives an interesting slant.

Formatting drives:

At present, if you are taking your external hard drive between operating systems you will most likely encounter readability problems.  However, if your hard drive is a Flash disk under 10 GIG or so, you will have no problems in this area.  Problems are encountered only with large drives (approx. > 10GIG) when they are formatted for a specific operating system and not others.  This has produced a small army of often free (search them online) applications which allow Mac formatted drives to be read on Windows and vice-versa.  Mac has also developed a formatting system called journaling.  For more information on these issues and the specific requirements of your drive consult the web, and the manufacturer¿s specifications of your product.

Learning support:

The Helpdesk, of The Lab





External links:



First published Mon. 1 Feb. 2010.