Store and share your files securely in the cloud with SURFdrive

Store, synchronise and share your documents easily with SURFdrive. SURFdrive is a personal cloudservice for the Dutch education and research. Your documents are kept safe and sound in our communitycloud. 

 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about SURFdrive

Here are our frequently asked questions about SURFdrive. If you have other questions you may direct them to the ICT-helpdesk within your organisation.

General questions

Can I get even more space?

All SURFdrive users equally get 250 GB of storage. For now, it is not possible to change that amount.

What is the maximum size of files stored on SURFdrive?

A 16 GB limit applies when uploading files using the web interface. This limit does not apply if you upload files using the desktop client or WebDAV. We recommend you to treat 16 GB as the maximum.

What is the maximum filename length for files stored on SURFdrive?

There is no maximum filename length. To ensure that files can be synchronised between all supported operating systems, the following characters should be avoided  |(`\, /, :, ?, *, ", >, <, |`)|. Files containing these characters do not work on certain file systems.

I work with Linux. Can I also use SURFdrive?

If you are using Linux, you can install the desktop client from ownCloud. Once installed, enter https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files as the server address.

I work at multiple institutions. How can I make the best use of SURFdrive?

If all institutions are members of SURFdrive, you can set up a SURFdrive account for each institution. On your desktop client or app, you can add new accounts via 'Settings' and 'Account'.

I am switching institutions. Can I transfer the data on my SURFdrive account?

Yes, you can. Go to 'Settings' in the desktop client, click on 'Account' and then on 'Remove'. The link between your local SURFdrive folder and your former institution's account has now been broken. Add your new institution's account and then select the same local SURFdrive folder. Make sure that 'Keep local data' is selected. That way, all files will be transferred to your new account and will be synchronised with SURFdrive. 
One concern may be files that are shared with the user in question (located in the 'Shared' folder). These files will have to be removed from the 'Shared' folder and placed in a different folder, or delete the data locally and ask the 'owners' whether they wish to share the data again with the new account.

Can file uploads time out?

Uploads do have a maximum time limit. Uploads of files larger than 50 GB that take longer than 4 hours may be stopped by the server.

Does SURFdrive use version control, and how is this implemented?

Yes of course, you can use version control with SURFdrive. The version control functionality automatically deletes older versions of your file to ensure the maximum storage capacity is not reached.

The version control mechanism works as follows:

  • We store one version for the first second
  • We store one version every 2 seconds for the first 10 seconds
  • We store one version every 10 seconds for the first minute
  • We store one version every minute for the first hour
  • We store one version every hour for the first 24 hours
  • We store one version every day for the first 14 days

Any versions older than 14 days are automatically deleted. The versions are adjusted according to this pattern each time a new version is created. The version control functionality never uses more than 50% of the user's available space at the time. If this limit is exceeded, the oldest file versions are automatically deleted until the 50% limit is reached.

When is maintenance of SURFdrive conducted?

Regular maintenance of SURFdrive is conducted on Tuesday evening between 18:00 and midnight. Maintenance is not conducted every week. If maintenance has been scheduled, we will announce this a week in advance. For more extensive maintenance, we sometimes require more time. Such maintenance is then performed during the weekend and notification will be given well in advance.

How can I stay up to date on maintenance of SURFdrive?

We provide notification of maintenance work via Twitter and SURFdrive.nl to inform you of when the service is temporarily unavailable. You can also subscribe to our announce mailinglist to stay informed.

Can I also access my files via the WebDAV protocol?

Yes, SURFdrive is available via the WEbDAV protocol. However, an inherent aspect of the WebDAV protocol is that all actions are implemented via the server, which results in a slow user interface. This is why we recommend to always use the desktop clients.

If you want to make use of WebDAV, log in via https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files and then go to your personal page. To make use of WebDAV, you must create a 12-character password. This password will be generated for you and will be visible only once. Important: spaces are shown in the password to improve legibility. These spaces are not part of the password. Always enter the password directly in the application of your choice or save it in a good password manager. More information on the configuration of your WebDAV client you can find in the ownCloud documentation.

I have a question that is not listed in the FAQ. How do I contact you?

In short: you can't. SURF offers SURFdrive to institutions (as a whole), not to individual end users. If you have any questions regarding SURFdrive, please turn to the helpdesk of your own institution. If they can't answer your question immediately, they will know how to find us.

Can I upload photos from my camera (on my phone) automatically?

If you have an Android phone, you can upload your photos immediately after taking them. Install the Android app and go to "Settings". Choose "Upload Immediately" to automatically upload all your photos from the camera. The photos will be uploaded in a seperate directory called "InstantUpload".

Can I also access my data via Open Science Framework (OSF)?

Yes, you can. Make sure your files are accessible through the WebDAV-protocol. If they are, you can set up a ownCloud in the OSF. You can use the following information:

Host URL: surfdrive.surf.nl/files
Username: <your WebDAV-username>
Password: <your WebDAV-password>

Can I use SURFdrive as a back-up?

Yes, you can. But keep in mind that if your harddrive and SURFdrive are synchronised, any information you have lost on your harddrive, is also lost on SURFdrive. 

 

Logging in to SURFdrive

I can't select my institution from the login screen. How come?

When you go to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files, you are presented with a screen where you have to select your institution. If your institution is not listed, your institution doesn't have a SURFdrive license. Please contact your own institution's helpdesk to see what your options are.

After logging in, I get a "403 - Forbidden" message. How come?

This message has 2 possible causes:

  • Your institution has not (yet) given you access to use SURFdrive. Contact the help desk of your institution to discuss your options
  • You are using an old version of the desktop client that is no longer supported. You can download the latest version from https://www.surfdrive.nl/en/downloads
The message ‘authentication error’ is being displayed on SURFdrive. How come?

If you have SURFdrive open in your browser, but it stands idle for a period, then you will be automatically logged out. If you refresh the browser or click on the SURFdrive logo in the top left-hand corner, you will be logged in again.

My e-mail address in the desktop client seems to be incorrect. How come?

When you open the ‘Settings’ window in the desktop client, the following sentence is displayed on the ‘Account’ tab: ‘Connected to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files as user@institution.nl.’ Although this may look like an e-mail address, it is actually your username. This is sometimes an e-mail address and sometimes not. Don't worry, we have the right e-mail address in our records!

My virus scanner reports that the desktop client contains a virus! What do I do?

Some virus scanners think the SURFdrive desktop client contains a virus. Obviously, we can assure you this is not the case. This is happening because the vendor of your virus scanner hasn't updated to the latest definitions. Please make sure your virus scanner is up-to-date and if the problem persists, contact the vendor of your virus scanner and tell them it's a "false positive".

 

Synchronising files

I would like to synchronize all my files in SURFdrive with my computer. How do I do that?

To keep your files in sync with a folder on your harddisk, you have to use the desktop client, which is available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. You can find it on our downloads page.

Why would I want to use a desktop client?

With the desktop client, you can easily synchronise files and folders. As a user, you can select which SURFdrive folders you wish to synchronise on your computer's hard drive. In this way, you can easily save files on your own desktop, so you will always have access to your personal files.

What steps do I have to take when downloading a new desktop client?

You can download the latest desktop client for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux via https://www.surfdrive.nl/en/downloads. For Windows and MAC OSX, you can install the desktop client via a link. Please note: with Mac OS X, for 'security&privacy' preferences make sure to set 'Allow apps downloaded from' to 'Mac App Store and identified developers'.

For Linux, you use the desktop client from ownCloud, available via http://owncloud.org/sync-clients/#linux. Via the 'downloads’ section on www.surfdrive.nl you can get the latest versions of the other desktop clients.

Which operating systems/browsers are supported and which versions are supported?

SURFdrive can be accessed from all widely used computers, tablets and smartphones running on Windows, OS X, Linux, iOS or Android.

Browsers

  • Internet Explorer - last two versions
  • Google Chrome - last two versions
  • Firefox - last two versions
  • Safari - last two versions
  • Windows - Windows, Vista 7, 8 and 10 
  • OS X - OS X 10.7 + (OS X Lion and later)
  • Linux - various Linux distributions (via ownCloud)
  • iOS - 7.0 or later. Compatible with the iPhone, iPad an iPod touch
  • Android - Android 4.0 and newer versions
How can I choose which folders to synchronise with my computer?

You can find this option by opening the desktop client settings and by clicking on the arrow to the left of the cloud. Folders you no longer wish to sync will be removed from the computer, but not from SURFdrive. All files and folders will remain on SURFdrive.

Can I easily transfer files to SURFdrive that are currently stored in a commercial personal cloud storage service?

Yes, it is very easy to install SURFdrive alongside any commercial personal cloud storage service. Install the desktop client on your computer and then copy the files that you wish to store on SURFdrive into your SURFdrive folder. The desktop client will then synchronise these files to SURFdrive. Once the synchronisation is completed, you can remove the files from your previous personal cloud storage service.

I do not want to sync folders that exceed a certain size. How can I set this up?

Version 2.0.2 and higher of the desktop client allow you to set a threshold value for the synchronisation of folders to your computer. The files will not be automatically synced to your computer, but they are on the SURFdrive server. You can access these files via https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files. If you do want to sync folders above this threshold value, tick the relevant folder in the desktop client settings.

How do I get access to my files on my phone/tablet?

There are several ways to access your SURFdrive files on your phone/tablet. First, you can always access your files through a webbrowser. Go to https://surfdrive.surf.nl and click "Login to SURFdrive" to access your files.

Another option is to use the native SURFdrive app for iOS and Android. You can install this app to your phone and use it to view/move/remove your files, or upload new files. You can also generate a public link to share files and/or folders with others. Download the iOS app or the Android app.

A third option comes in handy for other apps, such as Pages, Keynote, Office HD and iAnnotate. These apps support the WebDAV-protocol, used for external storage through the internet.

Can I upload photos from my camera (on my phone) automatically?

If you have an Android phone, you can upload your photos immediately after taking them. Install the Android app and go to "Settings". Choose "Upload Immediately" to automatically upload all your photos from the camera. The photos will be uploaded in a seperate directory called "InstantUpload".

Can I view, edit and save documents on my phone or tablet?

It is possible to view, move and delete documents and upload new files with your phone or tablet. You may edit and resave files. In that case, you need to upload the files once again to SURFdrive when saving them.

Can I restore a previous version of a file?

If you have overwritten a file, you can restore a previous version through the web environment of SURFdrive. Navigate to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files with your browser and login. Click on the three dots to the right of the file name and choose "Details". Then click on "Versions" on the right side of the screen. If previous versions are available, you can restore them.

Whoops, I've accidentally deleted/overwritten a file. Can I get it back?

If you've deleted a file you can retrieve it through the web environment of SURFdrive. Navigate to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files with your browser and login. Next, click "Deleted files" in the bottom left corner. Select the files or folders you would like to restore and press "Restore".

How do I permanently delete a file or folder?

All files and folders you delete are saved for a certain amount of time, to allow you to restore them. If you would like to permanently delete a file, browse to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files and login. Next, go to "Deleted files" in the bottom left corner. Here you can select the files you would like to permanently remove. Click "Delete" to remove the files permanently.

Can I also change my synchronisation folder?

Yes, you can.

  1. Use the SURFdrive icon (little cloud) to go to settings
  2. Click on the icon with three dots on the right hand side of the first tab. Select 'Remove Folder Sync Connection'
  3. You will be asked whether you really want to delete the connection. Click 'Yes'
  4. You will then see the option to add a folder sync connection. Click on this
  5. Select a new folder. Click 'Choose' to browse your computer and select a folder

 

Sharing files

How do I share a file or folder with another SURFdrive user?

Sharing files or folders can only be done through the web browser. So to start, please open your favorite browser and navigate to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files. Next, please locate the file or folder you would like to share. Hover over that file or folder with your mouse, and a "Share" button appears to the right. After clicking that button, you can look for users to share your file/folder with. As soon as you start typing, names of other SURFdrive users appear that match your input. When you click a user, the file or folder is shared right away. By default, the file or folder is shared with only read permissions, which means the other user can not edit or delete your file or folder. Also, the other user can not reshare your file or folder with others. If you would like to change something about these permissions, please click the small triangle after "Can edit". Here, you can control which user can do what with your file/folder.

How do I find another SURFdrive user?

After clicking "Share" you can find other SURFdrive users by starting to type their name in the input field (where it says "Share with user or group..."). A list with users that match your search criteria will be presented immediately.

Note: you can only find other SURFdrive users who logged in at least once.

Can I download an entire folder or multiple files from SURFdrive in one go?

If you download an entire folder or multiple files in one go, a ZIP file will be created that you can then download. This is possible for files and folders whose combined size is less than 1GB.

How do I see which files I already share and with whom?

You can see which files or folders you share through your webbrowser. Below "Shared by you" all files and folders are listed that you share. Click the button "Shared" to see with whom you share a file or folder and which permissions are set. If a user you share your files with, in turn shares your files with other uses, you won't be notified.
Below "Shared by link" only files and folders you share with external parties are listed. It isn't shown to which e-mail address you sent the link. You won't see it if a user you share your files with, in turn shares your files with other users. You can easily generate a new link by checking the box off and on again. Users possessing the old link won't have access to the data anymore.

How do I see who shared a file or folder with me?

You can see which files or folders are shared through your webbrowser. All files and folders that are shared with you, are located inside the "Shared with you" folder. To see who is the owner of the file or folder shared with you, please click on the "Share" button to the right of the filename.

How do I stop sharing a file or folder?

You can see which files or folders are shared through your webbrowser. To stop sharing a file or folder, please click the "Shared" button next to the name of the file you would like to stop sharing. If you shared the file with other SURFdrive users: to stop sharing with a specific user, please click the "X" next to the name of that user. If you shared a file/folder through a link: simply uncheck the checkbox before "Share link".

What happens if a file or folder I shared with another user, is deleted by that user?

If you allow the user(s) with whom you've shared a file with to have "delete" permissions and this user deletes your file or folder, it will also be removed from your files in SURFdrive. However, you can restore your file or folder through the web environment of SURFdrive.

Can I work on a document (locally) at the same time as someone else?

As SURFdrive does not check the content of the documents, working locally on documents at the same time and uploading/syncing them will lead to different versions being saved by SURFdrive. SURFdrive will make different versions of the document, containing the name 'conflict' in them.

Can I also share a SURFdrive folder with a group, e.g. my department or project group?

This is possible if one person sets up the project environment. As a SURFdrive user, you are able to create folders and share these with other users. Please note: If the user who shares the folder is deactivated (e.g. due to them leaving the company), then the shared material will no longer be available. In such cases, you must ensure that another person in the group has downloaded the files and shared them with the group before the user who shared the files is deactivated. Transfer of ownership is not yet possible.

Can I also share files with guest users/external parties?

You can share files with guest users/external parties via the ‘share link’ functionality. In addition, you can create a folder to which guest users can upload documents. The full functionality of SURFdrive, including the desktop clients and apps, is only available to users of institutions that offer SURFdrive to their staff and/or students. 

How do I share a file or folder with guest users/external parties?

Sharing files or folders can only be done through the webbrowser. So to start, please open your favorite browser and navigate to https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files. Next, please locate the file or folder you would like to share. Hover over that file/folder with your mouse, and a "Share" button appears to the right. After clicking that button, you can choose to "share a link". Use this to generate a link you can send to others who don't have access to SURFdrive themselves. To notify someone you have shared a file/folder you can enter an email address in the "Email link to person" field. You can also choose to secure your share with a password. Pass on this password via a different channel to enable the recipient to download the file.

Can someone who doesn't have a SURFdrive account edit my shared file?

By default, a file or folder shared with someone who doesn't have a SURFdrive account is read-only. You can change this when sharing a folder only. When you share a folder through a "Public Link", the option "Allow Public Upload" appears. This options lets users upload files to the shared directory through the webbrowser.

This user can then download the files, edit them and upload the edited files again. The edited versions will then appear in your SURFdrive

Can I open a public link through WebDAV?

If someone shares a public link with you, you can open it through your WebDAV-client.

If this link, for example, is public: “https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files/index.php/s/AbCdEfGHiJkl1234” with password 'secret', you make a connection through WebDAV with this information:

URL: https://surfdrive.surf.nl/files/public.php/webdav/
Username: AbCdEfGHiJkl1234
Password: secret

 

 

I want others to upload files to me without them being able to see each other's files, for example to have students submit reports.

Create a new folder and share it by creating a public link. You can choose configuration options:
> Are you on the website environment? Then choose 'Upload only (File drop)'.
> Do you work on your computer from the software? Then tick 'Allow editing' and uncheck 'Show file listing'.
Anyone you send the link to can then upload files to this folder without seeing other files.

I want others to upload files to me without them being able to see each other's files, for example to have students submit reports.

Create a new folder and share it by creating a public link. You can choose configuration options:
> Are you on the website environment? Then choose 'Upload only (File drop)'.
> Do you work on your computer from the software? Then tick 'Allow editing' and uncheck 'Show file listing'.
Anyone you send the link to can then upload files to this folder without seeing other files.

 

Secure data storage

Why is SURFdrive more secure than other cloud storage services?

SURFdrive complies with all Dutch and European privacy legislation. The data are stored safely in the Netherlands and are never made available to third parties. The location of the data is always known. Furthermore, SURF does not share user details with third parties.

Why do I often need to log in again?

For security reasons, you are periodically asked to log back in. For the desktop clients and apps, this is done once every 30 days. If you are logged in to the SURFdrive website via your browser and you close the browser, then you must log in again to re-enter.

Is it possible to encrypt my files in SURFdrive?

SURFdrive doesn't offer any built-in encryption. But of course it is possible to use 3rd-party tools to encrypt files yourself. For this purpose, use a program such as Boxcryptor Classic.

How long are the data on SURFdrive stored after being deleted?

All files and folders that are deleted will be stored for 30 days, during which time they can be restored. If your account is deleted (e.g. if you leave the institution), then the institution will determine how long the data remain available.

Can I also store private files on SURFdrive?

This depends on the agreements you have made with your institution. The Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) or a similar document contains the agreements between you as a user and your institution. SURFdrive does not impose any restrictions with regard to this matter.

What options do I have to make sharing a link even more secure?

If you want to share a file or folder with a user who doesn't have access to SURFdrive, you will have to use the "Share link" option. SURFdrive will generate a "public" link to the share, which means that everyone who knows the link will be able to access your share. In principle, this also means that if somebody accidentally guessed the link, he or she will also be able to access your share, even though you didn't tell him/her of your share. To make sure only certain people can access your file/folder, you can protect the link with a self-chosen password.

In addition to password protection, you can also set an expiry date. This renders your shared file or folder unavailable from a certain date onwards.

What is the difference between sharing a public link in SURFdrive and a commercial personal cloud storage service?

If you share a ‘public link’ in SURFdrive, you can protect this link with a self-chosen password. In addition to password protecting what you share, you can also set an expiry date. The expiry date makes everything you share unavailable from a certain date onwards. 

 

Privacy

Who is responsible for the processing of my personal data within SURFdrive?

Your institution is responsible for the processing of your data.

SURFdrive is a service provided by SURF and can be purchased by educational and research institutions within the Netherlands. Institutions can then offer SURFdrive to their users (mostly students, researchers and employees of that institution). Personal data are processed when using this service. The institution that purchased SURFdrive is legally accountable for the processing of this personal data and SURF has the role of processor on behalf of the institution. For questions about the processing of personal data your institution is the first point of contact.

Which personal data does SURFdrive process?

We process the following personal data:

  • first name (from the user and purchaser)
  • last name (from the user and purchaser)
  • e-mail address (from the user and purchaser)
  • organization (from the user and purchaser)
  • access and identification information (from the user)
  • log data (from the user)
  • IP address (from the user)
  • Other personal data: you can use SURFdrive to save, synchronize and share files. These files may contain (sensitive) personal data, but as a service provider we do not know the contents of the files and we do not want to know them either. You are responsible for these files and their content. We also process the file name and associated metadata for service purposes.
How long do you store my personal data?
  • We store log data 180 days (half a year). We chose for this period because sometimes we get questions about problems that have occurred in recent months. If we still have the log data, we can check what went wrong. After 180 days we delete the log files.
  • We also save your eduPersonPrincipalName (ePPN). That is your login name in the form 'username @ institution name'. We store your ePPN to collect statistics, for accounting and to comply with legal tax rules. For the latter purpose we have to keep your ePPN for 10 years, but we do this in accordance with the guidelines of the tax authorities: after 180 days your username is replaced by a string, for example: 'nth8uztcyi5vc7ew8tpt @ institution name', so it can no longer be traced.
  • We keep all other data mentioned above as long as you use the service.
Who has access to my personal data?

Only the administrators of the service have access to your personal data. They only use this information if necessary to provide you with services around SURFdrive.

In addition, other SURFdrive users can share files with you (and you can share them with others). To make this possible, your name and e-mail address (to distinguish users of the same name) are included in the SURFdrive address book. Others can only see this information if they also have SURFdrive and search specifically for your name.

Updates and tips about SURFdrive?

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