University of Regina Why Use FILR/Recommendations


Introduction

Novell FILR is a file sharing application similar to Dropbox but with capabilities built in to help organizations meet privacy and confidentiality requirements. This document explains why you would want to use FILR, provides recommendations on FILR usage, and provides a brief overview of FILR and how it compares to dropbox. Tips on using FILR at the university of Regina are also listed.

Why Should I use FILR?

  1. more disk space - the default quota for personal storage is 100GB for staff and 25GB for students.
  2. Share files easily with UofR users.  Select share file and just start typing their name and FILR shows you users that match what has been typed so far.
  3. Share files easily with external users. Just share to their email address and you're done. They will have to choose a login  password when they first connect.
  4. Synchronize your personal storage and/or I: drive to your PC/laptop for offline access. Synchronization of netfolders(T: for example) is currently not supported for performance/security reasons.
  5. Install the smart phone apps to get access to your files from your phone or tablet.
  6. All data is stored in Canada. We do not mine your data so we can serve targeted advertising to you.
  7. Use the web interface to get at your files from anywhere
  8. Access network drives like T: remotely from within FILR web interface and apps using netfolders.
  9. Add comments to files you are sharing with others
  10. Easily Undelete files you have deleted in your personal storage.

Overview of Current Access Methods

FILR complements other access methods in current use at the UofR:

  • Novell Client access. Used by most users at work or in labs to access S:,T:, I: et. al. drives. Fastest method - full function.
  • Webdrive client for Windows and Macintosh. Allows access to S:,T:, I: etc. on your home laptop/PC. Good for access at home for most users.
  • Netstorage. Basic web interface to S:,T:, I: etc that works through any browser. To update files have to download, edit, and upload.

Overview of FILR Storage Types

FILR offers two main storage types, My Files and Netfolders. Anything under My Files can be synchronized to a laptop/PC with the desktop client. There are two subtypes under My Files:

  1. Home - this is a link to your home directory files(usually mapped as I: drive). FILR can synchronize your I: drive, or a portion of it, for you to allow easy access on remote laptops/systems.
  2. Personal Storage - anything in "My Files" that isn't in your Home directory(I: drive). Has a large quota(25GB for students, 100GB for staff) but is only backed for disaster recovery purposes (fire/flood/explosion). All deleted files are saved and can be undeleted.

Netfolders gives you access to Novell drives like T: and U: and allow you to share individual files with others.

FILRmyFiles

Recommendations for Accessing Data

  1. If only sharing with internal employees, store files in department folder(typically T: drive) and access with Novell Client and use webdrive/netstorage for home access. You can share your own folders without putting in a ticket using the instructions in How to Setup Novell Directory Permissions
  2. If you only need to share one or two files read-only with external users, store them in the most appropriate Novell drive(a netfolder likely) and share out the individual files in FILR to the external users. Folders cannot be shared on netfolders
  3. If you need to share a lot of files with external users or provide them write access, then store files in a users I: drive (a faculty/department generic account works well for this) and share out permissions using FILR. Use FILR web interface or desktop client to access files. The desktop client is particularly recommended if users need to edit files instead of just viewing them.
  4. Use the FILR web interface to access files instead of NetStorage
  5. Use the free FILR apps for iPhone/Android to access your Novell files on your phone or tablet.

FILR  versus Dropbox

Compared to dropbox, FILR has the following advantages:

  • FILR gives you access to standard UofR Novell groups and users for easy sharing. Want to share with your class? Just share it with the pre-defined class group which is automatically generated from registration data.
  • when you share files with people the file sizes don't count against the other users quota. Drop box gives you 2GB for free so if you are sharing large files with others they may be forced to upgrade to a paid package. You can share large files with external users and they don't have to pay for a large dropbox quota.
  • With FILR you can store files in your HOME directory(I: drive usually) which is backed up so you can request files be restored from backups if needed(up to 6 months back or on yearly backups). Dropbox free version has a limit of 30 days. In FILR, deleted files in your personal storage are also kept unless you run out of space or purge them. In your I: drive deleted files can be salvaged.
  • UofR users get a default quota of 100GB for staff and 25GB for students of personal storage
  • You can get easy access to files on your T: drive(netfolder) through FILR

Compared to dropbox, FILR has the following dis-advantages:

  • dropbox has versioning as well as undelete whereas FILR only has undelete. If you overwrite a file and make a mistake(delete 50 rows in a spreadsheet and don't notice) you can go back to an older version in dropbox. If you delete a file you can undelete in both. Note that if you are storing files in your home directory(I:) as opposed to personal storage they are backed up daily and can be restored. Versioning is planned for a later version of FILR.
  • drop-box can synchronize any size of file. FILR at UofR is configured with a maximum file size of 5GB.

FILR Limitations

FILR has the following limitations by design:

  • you cannot synchronize netfolders(T:, U: etc. drives) to your desktop when you have the FILR desktop installed. This is due to privacy/confidentiality concerns and the typically large size of these drives.
  • you can only share files on netfolders and not directories. This is to protect against accidental(or intentional) sharing of a whole faculty/department directory.
  • In the web interface there is a Edit option for files. This typically doesn't work. It depends on using webdav for editing which was reliable in Windows XP but was modified in Windows 7 to be more microsoft specific and therefore doesn't work well with 3rd party webdav servers.

TIPS

  • To download the desktop app, see the appropriate Desktop quick start guide. When installing you will need administrative access on your machine.  For the FILR server URL use https://filr.uregina.ca/
  • For most staff users it is best not to synchronize your whole Home(I: drive) folder to their laptop. Be careful when synchronizing folders that contain confidential data best left on the secure U of R network. See technote 610 for suggestions on configuring what is synchronized to your system.

Conclusion

A basic overview of FILR capabilities is provided and compared to existing methods for access existing Novell file servers. A list of reasons to use FILR is presented and recommendations on whether to use FILR for typical situations is provided.