IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

U Drive: Central File Storage for Users



U Drive is a central file storage for users that provides students, faculty and staff with a place to store files that can be accessed from anywhere, on- and off-campus.

U Drive files are available via the network in real time, from any computer on campus, both personal and institutionally owned. Windows, Mac and Linux computers are supported. Off campus, users will be able to access their files via standard internet protocols such as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP). No additional software is needed to sync files, and desktop software (such as SPSS or Adobe products) can open and save files directly from the U Drive from campus.

This service is funded by the UW-IT Technology Recharge Fee and the Student Technology Fee.


Students can store up to 50 GB of data, which is automatically backed up. This service is activated automatically for all students; you can use it right away.

Faculty/ Staff:

Faculty/ Staff are allotted 50 GB of data, which is automatically backed up. If you need more space than that, your quota can be increased with a UW Budget number on the Manage Your UW NetID Resources Web page.

Note: This service is not appropriate for storing regulatory-protected data, or sensitive information that may be subject to compliance regulations. See Information Security and Privacy Laws and Regulations for more information.


Sponsored accounts are allotted 50 GB of data, which is automatically backed up. If you need more space than that, your quota can be increased with a UW Budget number on the Manage Your UW NetID Resources Web page.


Current Known Problem:

The U Drive has shown slow performance while opening and saving Microsoft Word for a small subset of users. Details (and a way to record if your computer does or does not suffer from this issue) can be seen here.

Activate/Manage Your Storage

Students: U Drive is automatically activated for all students.

Faculty/Staff: U Drive is automatically activated for all Faculty/Staff.

If you wish to manage your account manually, you may do so at the UW NetID Service Manage Page. Follow these steps from your browser to activate or deactivate this service:

  1. StepsActions
  2. Navigate to your Manage Your UW NetID Resources Web page.
  3. Click on “Computing Services.”
  4. Check the box next to “Central File Storage.”
  5. Click on “Subscribe” or “Unsubscribe” to update your account.

This page is also where Faculty/Staff should be able to purchase additional quota with a UW budget number at a rate of $0.15 per GB per month.

Transitioning Between Statuses

Transitioning from Student status to Faculty/Staff:

In the case that default student quota is ever greater than the default staff quotas, limits will be lowered in the transition if these conditions apply:

  1.  If a user’s usage is “well below” the new limit, their quota will be silently dropped to the new limit.  “Well below” is defined as “The usage plus the lesser of 25% of the limit or 250 MB is less than or equal to the new limit.”  In particular, a user with zero usage and a new limit of zero will be silently dropped to zero.
  2. If the user is near (aka “not well below”) or above the new limit:
    1. A warning email is generated explaining that the limit is going to be reduced in two weeks.
    2. When the deadline arrives, the quota is lowered.
    3. Prior to the deadline, the user’s quota is dropped to their current usage plus the 25% / 250MB grace value rounded up to the next gigabyte whenever their usage is “well below” the existing limit.

Transitioning to an Active Student affiliation:

Students’ quotas are set to 50GB as long as the total student usage of the service does not exceed the 15TB limit. To manage this quota after transitioning, go to the Manage Your UW NetID Resources Web page.

Transitioning from Faculty/Staff to Student status:

In the case of the Faculty/Staff having greater than 50GB for their quota, limits will be lowered to 50GB and changes may occur depending on how much of the quota is being used. When a Faculty/Staff changes their affiliation or adds an affiliation for Student status, they will be able to manage their storage quota for their U Drive services on the Manage Your UW NetID Resources Web page.

Accessing Your U Drive via SMB from UW network connections (On-campus or via Husky OnNet)

If your U Drive service is avtive, you are ready to access your storage on U Drive. The most common way to access the U Drive is by opening it on your computer like any other disk:

Using Windows

  1. StepsActions
  2. Press Windows-R (Press the udrive05 and R).
  3. Type \\\udrive; Click OK.
  4. When prompted for Username and Password, enter as NETID\username, followed by your UW NetID password; Click OK.

Mac OS X

  1. StepsActions
  2. Open “Finder.”
  3. Press Command-K (or Go -> Connect to Server from the menu).
  4. Enter: smb://
  5. Click Connect.
  6. When prompted enter your UW NetID username and password.


Connect to smb://

Accessing Your U Drive via SFTP from any network connection

You may access your files via the SFTP protocol from off or on campus. This allows a more traditional way of moving files to and from the U Drive, and does not have network restrictions. Basic instructions are below.

Obtaining Secure FTP (SFTP) Programs

Free SFTP programs are available from a number of sites on the Web. A common program is Filezilla, but others are available. You may wish to check with your local support team to see if there is a preferred software package. When downloading such programs, be VERY CAREFUL to read the complete text and especially the text for any checkboxes before clicking the download button. Otherwise you may unintentionally give the site permission to download and install other programs or adware; many such programs are malicious and very hard to remove.

Generic Transfer Settings

The following table outlines the basic connection settings which can be used with SFTP programs.

Generic Connection Settings
Setting Value
Port 22
Protocol SFTP/SSH
Username NetID
Password UW NetID Password
Directory udrive


The Central File Storage with the UW, U Drive, is not a shareable drive.  Some alternatives that are available for file sharing are UW Google Drive, Dropbox, or UW OneDrive for Business (formerly UW SkyDrivePro).

Retrieving Backups of Your Files

The U Drive service provides access to previous versions of your files providing one version a day for a week, one version a week for a month, and one version a month for 3 months. These versions of your files are called snapshots. All of your U Drive snapshots are stored in a directory (location described below) called “udrive”, and the name of each snapshot directory reflects the date it was created.

To access your snapshots from on-campus, follow the instructions above for “accessing your U Drive” to open the following:

  • Windows Users:
  • Mac OS X and Linux users:
    Mac OS X and Linux users should access their snapshot directory using the instructions above for “Accessing Your U Drive via SFTP from any network connection”,  but target the directory “snapshots” rather than “udrive”.

To access snapshots from off-campus:

  • Follow the instructions above, but double click on “snapshots” rather than “udrive”

Guidelines and Rules


The Central File Storage Service is provided to support UW activities and is subject to state laws and UW policy.

Data as Public Record

Data is a public record when it is created or stored in the transaction of public business. As such, it must be retained as evidence in accordance with UW records retention practices:

  • UW Records Management – Information records management, retention, storage, and destruction
  • RCW 40.14 – Washington State law relating to preservation and destruction of public records

Information for Departmental IT Staff

Benefits of the U Drive

  • User self-service file recovery via snapshots
  • UW-IT service with 24/7 monitoring and helpdesk support provided by help@u
  • Reduces the storage capacity requirements for individual units
  • Single Sign On (SSO) enables access without a password prompt when logged on with NetID credentials

Windows Drive Mounting

U Drive share can be mounted as a traditional Windows network drive by users, via a logon script, or via GPO.

For users logged onto computer with their UW NetID credentials their credentials are passed through automatically. Units can enable UW NetID logins via either:

Below is the syntax for a simple .BAT script that is executed on user logon:


If a user is not logged on with their NETID credentials, then they need to specify their NETID username:

NET USE U: \\\udrive /USER:NETID\%username% /PERSISTENT:YES

While any letter maybe used, departments are encouraged to use “U:” if feasible to provide a standard mount point across campus.

Windows “homeDirectory” Support for NETID Users

This information is for units who have a UW-IT Computer Support Org set up.

The AD attributes for “homeDrive” and “homeDirectory” can be set via the support group tool under the NETID Domain Settings section.

This will cause Windows to automatically map the U Drive upon login. Programs that use the user variables %HOMEDRIVE% and %HOMESHARE% will be able to make use of the U Drive automatically.

Mac and Linux Single Sign On Support

SSO support for Mac and Linux users is provided via the Kerberos tickets. Users can obtain a Kerberos ticket by authenticating via the NETID.WASHINGTON.EDU realm, or by requesting a ticket via the kinit command:


Subsequent mounts of smb:// should complete without a username/password prompt.

Additionally Macs and Linux machines joined to a UW NetID delegated OU support SSO for users logged on via NetID credentials.

Support Information

Service Catalog Entry: Central File Storage for Users: U Drive


UW Information Technology Service Center

Front Desk: UW Tower C-3000 (4333 Brooklyn Ave NE)

Online Help Form:

Phone: 206-221-5000