File Storage & Sharing

A variety of services are available for storing and sharing files.  These are described in the sections below.


The Physics Department provides AFS service for secure file storage and sharing.  Windows, Mac, and Linux are supported.  For more information, see here.

Box provides 50G of storage to all UW faculty, staff, and students.  Files can be shared with others and can be synchronized between multiple computers.  Files can also be created and edited in your browser using online versions of Microsoft Office and Google Docs.  To get started, see here.

Using Box as a Backup

One way to backup your Macintosh or Windows computer (especially laptops) is with Box. We especially recommend this approach for laptops, because the Physics Department's backup programs are not well suited for computers which are often disconnected from the network.

Box can keep the contents of a designated folder named "Box Sync" synchronized between multiple computers: Box uploads the contents of the Box Sync folder to their servers. Then, if you install Box on another computer, the contents of the Box Sync folder gets copied to the other computer too.  If you don't want the full contents copied, you can have it omit some folders.  If you need more than the standard 50G of space in Box, you can request more.

Box also has the ability to restore deleted files or previous versions of a file. If you accidentally delete a file or make edits you do not like, you can revert to previously existing files, up to 10 versions old. (One does not need to synchronize to other computers to make use of this feature.)

Google Drive

Google Drive provides unlimited storage to all UW faculty, staff, and students.  Like Box, this can be used to back up a folder from your computer and can sync files between multiple devices.  A useful feature is Google Docs, which provide word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation editors in your web browser.  Multiple people can edit the same document at the same time if you give them access.  This can be useful when working with remote collaborators on proposals, reports, papers, etc.  To get started, go here.


For collaborating on papers with the full power of LaTeX, Overleaf is a very convenient service. The free offering provides 1GB of file storage. Features include multiple people simultaneously editing, each with a choice of working as they desire in the LaTeX source, rich-text, or WYSIWYG editors.  All of this is presented through your web browser, so no special software needs to be installed on your computer.


For collaborating and publishing source code and other projects that benefit from a full-fledged revision control system, GitHub is a very popular service. The free personal account provides unlimited public repositories.  Each research group in the Physics Department is also entitled to the academic free tier, which is a free Silver Organization Plan (20 private repositories). Apply here.

Department Backup System

UW Physics provides a tape backup service for desktops and servers.  If you would like your computer to be backed up to tape, read more here.  For mobile devices such as laptops, a solution such as Box (see above) may be better.

Backing up Personal Files

UW employees and students who wish to backup personal files may be interested in a special UW rate for Crash Plan, an Internet-based backup service.

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