File Storage

content last updated 9-17-2020


Lab users are strongly encouraged to utilize a personal storage device for storing their data while working in XARTS Labs.


  • Also known as "thumb drives", these small storage devices are durable, inexpensive, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • However, their small physical size means smaller storage capacities than larger portable drives.
  • For the fastest possible read/write speeds, make sure you purchase a flash drive labeled USB version "3.0", "3.1" or "C".

USB or Thunderbolt PORTABLE Drives

  • Roughly the size of a paperback novel, portable drives are designed to be compact and durable, but high-capacity.
  • A "Solid State Drive" or "SSD" costs more than a standard "Hard Disk Drive" or "HDD", but will be noticeably faster when reading and writing your files.
    • HDD speeds are rated at "rotations per minute" or "rpm", so if you choose a less expensive HDD, aim for the highest "rpm" you can afford.
  • Many portable hard drives are "bus-powered," meaning that they draw their power from the computer over the interface cord and don't require a separate power supply. This is a nice feature because that power supply is usually a cumbersome AC adapter or "power brick" that you have to carry around with you and plug in every time you want to use your drive.
  • Unless a USB device includes a power adapter, it typically must be connected to a USB port on the computer itself, i.e. not on a keyboard or other un-powered USB hub.
  • A hard drive formatted for use on a Windows computer using the "MS-DOS (FAT)" format can also be used on a Mac. The reverse, however, is not always true. Format your drive according to your needs.
  • Currently, lab computers have these ports for connecting a portable hard drive:
    • USB-C or Thunderbolt 3: You can connect either type of device directly to a lab computer. You will need an adapter if you have a Thunderbolt 1 or 2 device, which uses a different type of connector.
    • USB 2 or 3: You can connect a device of either type directly to a lab computer with the appropriate cable.
    • Other types of connections can work, too, as long as you have an adapter that will convert the connection to either USB-C or the common, rectangular-shaped USB connector.

Did you know? USB-C is faster than USB version 3, which is faster than USB version 2. And for Thunderbolt devices, the higher the version number (1, 2, or 3), the faster the device.


Google Drive AND DROPBOX

  • These are two, prominent, third-party cloud-based file storage and sharing services.
  • All USF citizens have a Google Drive account with unlimited storage as part of their myUSF account.

XARTS Network Drive

  • Lab users with full lab access have an XARTS Network Drive. You can save documents in this network drive while working in the labs, and because it's stored on the XARTS server, you can access it no matter which lab computer you log into — in any XARTS lab.
  • However, you are responsible for backing up your files so that you can recover them in the event of user error, hardware failure, or other catastrophe.
  • Learn more about your XARTS Network Drive


  • Every lab computer you log into has a personalized home folder on its internal hard drive for your use, and you're free to save files in those home folders.
  • Your files are your responsibility. Always back up your files so that you can recover them in the event of human error, theft, hardware failure, or other catastrophe.
  • Learn if your files will be retained at logout AND FOR HOW LONG


  • There are 1,000 Kilobytes (KB) in 1 Megabyte (MB)
  • There are 1,000 Megabytes (MB) in 1 Gigabyte (GB)
  • There are 1,000 Gigabytes (GB) in 1 Terabyte (TB)