Software & Hardware

U Drive: Central File Storage for Users

U Drive: Central File Storage for Users


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

You can store up to 5GB 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.

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

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.

Activate Your Storage

Students: This service is activated automatically for all students; you can use it right away.

Faculty/Staff: This service first must be activated via the Manage Your UW NetID Resources Web page. This is only necessary this one time.

  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” to activate your storage.

You can check your current storage usage anytime on the Manage Disk Space Web page.

Accessing Your U Drive From On-campus (Students, Faculty and Staff)

Once you have activated the U Drive service (for faculty and staff), you are ready to access your storage on U Drive:

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 Storage From Off-campus

Option 1: If your local Department provides a virtual private network (VPN) service, create a VPN connection and follow the above steps.

Option 2: You may access your files via the SFTP protocol from off or on campus. Basic instructions are below.

SFTP from a PC/Mac/Linux computer via FileZilla

FileZilla is an open-source FTP/SFTP client that runs on Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, and many flavours of GNU/Linux. FileZilla has many powerful features, is cross-OS compatibility, and is in active development. FileZilla can be found here. After installed, refer to these directions to upload your files:

  1. StepsActions
  2. Open FileZilla
  3. Type in for host.
  4. Enter in your NetID and password.
  5. For port, type in “22.”
  6. Click on “QuickConnect.” It may ask you for confirmation regarding the server. Accept the dialogue.
  7. Double click on “udrive” on the right side of the window. This will open your udrive folder.
  8. Drag files between the left side of the window (your computer) and the right side of the window (the U Drive)

Generic Transfer Settings

FileZilla is only one of many SFTP programs that are able to connect to the U Drive and move files back and forth. The following table outlines the basic connection settings which can be used with other programs.

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

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 a year. 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:

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.

  • Use caution when storing sensitive information. This includes personnel data, patient records, student information, and financial information. For more information, see the General Rules for Collection, Use, and Disclosure of Institutional Information.

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:

  • UW NetID delegated OU
  • UW NetID trust to a local AD domain

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 UWWI 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.

Last modified: July 17, 2013