File Storage and Usage in Office 365

Overview

Microsoft is a reliable and trusted service provider (*) and Library and Information Services encourages exploration and use of the invaluable collaborative benefits afforded to the College via the Office 365 cloud-based services.  However, Dickinson is not currently backing up files stored in any Office 365 resource (ie. Mail, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint, etc.) which are located off campus on Microsoft’s servers.  While most of these cloud-based services include a method of restoring files deleted by users within a limited period of time, these methods should not be relied upon as the sole measure of protection for business critical files.  Additionally, given the open nature of many Office 365 cloud-based services (ie. the ability for users to create and administer their own file folders and directories), caution should be exercised when storing any files of a potentially sensitive nature to/via Office 365.  For these reasons, Library and Information Services continues to advise that business critical College files be stored on, or routinely backed up to, the on-premises ADMIN server (ie. “P drive”).

Business Critical Files

Business critical files (also referred to as ‘mission critical files’) are any documents and/or data which is essential to the operation of the department, office, or College.  Loss of which would constitute a significant challenge, or degradation of productivity, while the file content is recollected or recreated.  If you are unsure if your files are business critical or how best to manage your files, please feel free to contact the Help Desk for assistance.

Office 365 File Storage Details

In choosing which Office 365 cloud-based services to use for what purposes, it is helpful to understand where each 365 application or service stores created, or uploaded, files.

  • OneDrive for Business: OneDrive for Business is file storage space on the Microsoft cloud (ie. servers) which is given to each member of the Dickinson community.  This is referred to as a user’s ‘personal’ OneDrive store.

    Files can be drag-and-dropped into OneDrive via the OneDrive web interface or can be (optionally) synchronized from a folder on a computer wherein a ‘cached’ copy exists on the computer with a synchronized copy residing in the user’s ‘personal’ OneDrive store.  Users manage access to files or folders by sharing links with other users via the OneDrive for Business web interface.  Upon sharing a file or folder, the user grants view or edit permissions to others.  Users may also grant view or edit permissions to others by opening the file in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint and sharing it directly within the application.  Learn more about OneDrive here.

    Note: as with user folders on the ADMIN server (ie. “P drive”), if an employee leaves the College, a request should be sent to the Help Desk to transfer any pertinent departmental files to an appropriate location to preserve business continuity.
     
  • Groups: Groups in Office 365 let you choose a set of people that you wish to collaborate with and easily set up a collection of resources for those people to share.

    When a Group is created, Office 365 automatically creates a SharePoint Site which includes a document library for file storage.  Files uploaded to a Group’s Files tab are stored in the Group SharePoint Site document library.  Currently, all files uploaded to the Files tab in a Group are editable by all members of the Group.  Members of a Group are managed by the user who created the Group or others designated, by the creator, as owners of the Group. Learn more about Groups here.
     
  • Teams: Teams is the chat-based workspace in Office 365 that integrates all the people, content, and tools your group needs to communicate and collaborate.

    When a Team is created, Office 365 automatically creates a Group (see above) by the same name as that given to the Team.  Files uploaded to a Team’s Files tab are stored in the Group SharePoint Site document library.  Currently, all files uploaded to the Files tab in a Team are editable by all members of the Team.  Members of a Team are managed by the user who created the Team or others designated, by the creator, as owners of the Team or underlying Group. Learn more about Teams here.
     
  • Planner: Planner in Office 365 is a simple project management tool which lets users create projects or tasks, organize and assign tasks, share files, and communicate with each other.

    When a Planner Plan is created, Office 365 automatically creates a Group (see above) by the same name as that given to the Plan.  Files attached to a Plan are stored in the Group SharePoint Site document library.  Currently, all files attached to a Plan are editable by all members of the Plan.  Members of a Plan are managed by the user who created the Plan or others designated, by the creator, as owners of the Plan or underlying Group. Learn more about Planner here.
     
  • Yammer: Yammer in Office 365 is a social workspace where users can collaborate in groups discuss or gather feedback on topics.

    When a Yammer group is created, Office 365 automatically creates a Group (see above) by the same name as that given to the Yammer group.  Files attached to a Yammer group are stored in the Group SharePoint Site document library.  Currently, all files attached to a Yammer group are editable by all who have access to the Yammer group.  Access to a Yammer group is defined and managed by the user who created the Yammer group or others designated, by the creator, as owners of the Yammer thread or underlying Group.  Learn more about Yammer here.
     
  • SharePoint: SharePoint in Office 365 is the underlying collaborative platform which provides a collection of resources that integrates all Office 365 services.

    When a SharePoint Site is created, Office 365 automatically creates a Group (see above) along with the SharePoint Site.  Files uploaded to a Site are stored in the SharePoint document library.  Currently, all files uploaded to a Site are editable by all members of the Site unless special permissions are created for individual subfolders.  Members of a Site are managed by the user who created the Site or others designated, by the creator, as owners of the Site or underlying Group. Learn more about SharePoint here.
     

OneDrive Recycle Bin

Files or folders deleted from a user’s ‘personal’ OneDrive store go to a Recycle bin.  Files stay in this recycle bin for 93 days from the day they are deleted before they are permanently removed.  Once files are permanently removed from the OneDrive Recycle Bin, they cannot be recovered.  How to restore deleted files from the OneDrive Recycle Bin.

SharePoint Site Collection Recycle Bin

Files or folders deleted from any Office 365 cloud-based service which stores files in SharePoint (Groups, Teams, Planner, Yammer Internal groups, and SharePoint Sites) go to a SharePoint Site Collection Recycle bin.  Documents stay in this recycle bin for 93 days from the day they are deleted before they are permanently removed.  Once files are permanently removed from the SharePoint Collection Recycle Bin, they cannot be recovered.  How to restore deleted files from the SharePoint Site Collection Recycle Bin.

Office 365 Mail

Email messages, calendar events, people contacts, tasks, and/or notes deleted from Outlook (either via Outlook on the Web or any email application) are placed into the Deleted Items folder.  Items in the Deleted Items folder stay indefinitely until the folder is manually emptied.  How to restore deleted mail content in 365 Mail.

* Office 365 Trust Center includes details related to physical and logical data security, data compliance, storage locations, uptime, and accountability specifications: https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-trust-center-welcome