File Storage

Art, Music, Drama, and Dance students working in the Lab need a place to store their files, and often require a way to move files from the Lab to home (or another computer on campus) and vice versa. These files are often large media or multimedia files. This article describes a number of different storage options that you can use in our facilities.

Storage Within The Lab

On The Lab Computers — fineartsuser Home Directory

Space is available on each computer’s hard drive where you can store your files temporarily. This is called the fineartsuser home directory — it’s represented by the house icon that you see in most Open and Save dialog boxes. (Items you save to the Desktop are a part of the home directory.) There are number of folders inside the home directory that you can use to subsort your data (e.g., Documents, Movies) or you can create your own folder (recommended).

Any file on the hard drive that is more than 7 days old may be deleted by staff. Also, if you are taking up huge amounts of space on any one machine and it is causing that machine to become hard to operate, we reserve the right to delete such files without notice.

Remember that this is a public storage space — you should not keep sensitive personal materials on the Lab hard drives. Also remember that it is a shared space — we cannot guarantee that another user will not accidentally delete your files. Try to make sure you have backup copies of your important data using one of the methods described below in Taking Your Data With You.

On The Lab Server

For some classes and projects, you will be allowed to save files on our server. Instructions on usage and limitations will be provided to each class where this is the case.

Taking Your Data With You

There are a number of ways you can get your files from the Lab to another computer and vice versa. These fall into two categories: portable/removable storage and online storage/transfer.

Flash-based USB Drives (Portable Storage)

These popular devices plug into the USB port on your computer, are generally formatted to work on both Mac and Windows, and can hold many GB of data. An investment of $20-$30 should provide suitable storage for most users’ needs. You save to them just like you would a hard drive (or, if you are old enough to remember them, a floppy or zip disk), so they are good for ongoing work of moderate size that changes regularly. Their biggest asset is their very small size and the fact that they can plug into any modern computer and draw the power they need right from the USB port. They can also be handled fairly roughly without ill effects.

You can use these devices on any machine — on the computers in our Labs, you can plug them into the USB port provided at the front of the computer (except for the iMacs, where the port is on the back right of the display).

External Hard Drives/SSDs (Portable Storage)

If you do a lot of video or high-end audio work, the purchase of an external hard drive would be a very wise investment. Essentially, these devices are the same as the hard drives inside the computer but they are enclosed in a case that allows you to attach it to any computer that has the right ports on it. This makes the transfer of files much faster than with a USB flash drive. It is also the only reasonable way to ensure that your video and audio projects don’t get erased from the local hard drives! Prices are very reasonable, so for $80-$150, you can get large amounts of space.

Every computer in the Main Lab supports USB 3.0. Most also support Thunderbolt 2, but the port is difficult to access; ask Lab staff for help if you are going to use Thunderbolt drives. If you need the fastest possible performance, get a Solid State Drive (SSD) rather than a hard drive. SSDs are far more expensive, but prices have been coming down steadily.

Removable Storage

With the proliferation of cloud storage and ubiquity of USB sticks, users rarely need to use removable storage option such as optical discs. If you find yourself in such a situation, however, lab staff can connect the following drives to a Lab computer to assist — just ask:

  • Blu-Ray Burner and Reader (CD, DVD, BR-D)
  • USB Floppy Disk Drive

Online Storage and Transfer


Students have access to up to 1 TB of storage on OneDrive using their University of Calgary account. When used in the IAML, you will be generally be accessing your files from a web browser interface.

Dropbox and Other Online Storage Services

Users may already be using online storage services like Dropbox or iCloud Drive. You should be able to access your files using a web browser.

E-mail (Online Transfer)

A method of file transfer that most people are familiar with is sending files as attachments to an e-mail message. People frequently send themselves messages to accomplish this. This is a method that works well for most small files, but you should be aware of some limitations. Most e-mail providers (e.g., Shaw, Telus, Google, Microsoft) limit the size of e-mail message you can send and receive — if you exceed this limit, the message is rejected and never reaches the recipient. It is common for this limit to be between 5 and 25 MB. As well, files are encoded when sent via e-mail; you may lose Mac-specific information if you transfer files this way. If you are transferring larger files, you may want to use another method.