Home directory and remote access to it
Your personal home directory (the Z drive) is the safest and most convenient place for storing your current work files on university computers. Files in the home directory are saved on the university’s network drive and you can access them from any university computer where you log in with your own username. Furthermore, files are backed up automatically once a day.
The storage quota for a home directory is 20 gigabytes. Due to the restricted space, your home directory does not have room for numerous large files, such as videos and photo collections. It is recommended that if you have a high number of files, you should archive them in the cloud.
If you want to, you can also access your home directory at the university (the Z drive) outside the university network, e.g. from your home computer. You can do this in two different ways:
- By connecting via the simple VPN portal that is accessible with a web browser or
- By setting up your network drive to be used from your home computer, which enables you to edit and save files in it as easily as the files on your own computer’s hard drive, provided that you have a VPN connection or are in the Eduroam network.
The VPN portal is by far the easiest way to access your home directory from outside the university network. All you need to do is to log in to the VPN portal at www.vpn.helsinki.fi and choose the network drive you wish to use from the list (see the example in the image below).
After this, you will see a view where you can download files indicated with a check mark from your network drive or upload new files on the network drive. By clicking the life buoy icon (with the text Help) at the top right corner, more detailed instructions are displayed in the browser.
Adding the network drive on your own computer
Adding the network drive as a part of the desktop view requires some effort. It is still a more practical way than the portal for remotely using the network drive – especially if you wish to save files you have edited on your computer directly on the network drive or if you often need to move different files between your home computer and the university’s network drive.
In practice, you can do this by connecting your computer to the university network (for this, you will need a VPN connection through a client) and then telling the operating system to connect your Z drive, making it a part of the drive array. After this, the shortcut for your Z drive will be displayed in the My Computer window and the files on the drive can be opened and saved in the same way as when using a USB memory stick connected to the computer, for instance (see the example in the image below).
Instructions on the IT Center’s Helpdesk site explain in more detail what you should do if you want to use your home directory outside the university in the manner described above.
Saving files in OneDrive
You can also save your study-related materials, such as written assignments and presentations, in the OneDrive cloud storage service offered by the University of Helsinki (cloud = network drive space usually on the servers of a commercial operator) where you have 1 terabyte (1,000 GB) of storage space available. This is substantially more than the 20 gigabyte default space on your Z:\ network drive. For this reason, the cloud is a good way of storing all those assignments and study materials that do not fit into your home directory.
However, especially fetching large amounts of data and saving it in the cloud is slightly slower than when using the university’s network drive. On your home computer, you can use the OneDrive for Business desktop application, delivered with the Office suite, in order to define the folder on your computer that is to be synchronised with your cloud storage space. By enabling synchronisation, you can work on the files directly on your computer while your changes are automatically saved in the cloud.
With the OneDrive service mobile applications, files are also easier to access with different devices than files saved in the home directory. Another difference when compared to the home directory is that folders or files in the cloud can also be shared with other persons.