Storing & Sharing Research Files

With all the different storage services offered by UBC and third-party organizations, finding the right one for your research project can be difficult. Projects can range in scale and scope, with varying needs depending on the nature of the research. Finding the best method for storing and sharing your data lays the foundation for a smooth and effortless project and can even facilitate better team collaboration.

For assistance with selecting the best research storage service, see the summary of select storage options, a breakdown of their advantages and limitations, and guidance on how to get started below.

Which file storage system is best for me?

I need to supervise a moderately sized research project and manage access for one or more assistants/colleagues.


I need to manage a massive research project that exceeds the storage resources available at UBC.

Compute Canada/Westgrid 

I need to store and share files, host websites, build databases, and have full control over a personalized server.

Virtual Server

If you need help deciding which research storage solution is right for you, message us through the contact tab and we can provide a consultation.


What is Workspace?

Workspace is UBC’s cloud-based filesharing service, which works just like Dropbox. Workspace offers an easy and secure way for researchers to store their projects on the UBC network, while also customizing access for their colleagues and assistants. Users can customize file and folder access to different tiers: read-only, read and modify, or full admin access, which gives you full control over how to save and share your research files.

With desktop programs, mobile applications, and web portals, team collaboration has never been easier. Regardless of where you are (at home, on campus, or overseas) or what platform you’re using (desktops, laptops, tablets, or smartphones), everyone on your team will be able to connect to Workspace as long as they have Internet access.

Unlike Dropbox, it uses the UBC network to centrally deliver, manage, and secure data, in compliance with federal, provincial, and UBC security policies. This allows users to send sensitive research and/or business information over Workspace.


Why You want to customize how other people access your research files, and you want to store your files to the UBC network.

  • Workspace is compliant with federal, provincial, and university policies on information security and safety.
  • Files are stored in the UBC servers, so you do not have to hold on to them physically. If you lose or damage your computer, your data stays safe.
  • Files can be shared with other UBC staff, faculty, and/or guests who are not a part of UBC, which makes both internal and external collaboration possible.
  • Access permissions are customizable to read-only, read and modify, or full admin access, giving you complete control over which users can modify your files and to what extent.
  • Files are accessible anywhere with Internet on any platform, including computers, smartphones, and tablets.


  • Default storage space is 20GB, and additional storage space must be bought.
  • Workspace is only capable of privately sharing and storing research files, not publishing them.

Eligibility Requirements Users must have a Campus-Wide Login (CWL) account with an associated employee number.
Pricing Free for UBC employees for up to 20GB. Paid options for additional space

Getting Started

See UBC Workspace for more information on how to get started.

What is Compute Canada/WestGrid?

Compute Canada is an external organization that aims to provide a national platform for supercomputing resources, using Advanced Research Computing (ARC) strategies to support a wide range of researchers across different disciplines. Their regional branch for western Canada, WestGrid, is partnered with 15 institutions in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Due to the scale of the organization, WestGrid can support massive research projects that exceed the available storage resources at UBC. It is the storage service of choice for many research groups at UBC and other Canadian institutions.

To qualify for WestGrid, research projects must belong to one of the following categories:

  1. Research projects that are supported by a recognized funding agency;
  2. Research projects that are eligible for funding from such an agency;
  3. Industrial research projects;
  4. Research under contract.

WestGrid also offers a Dropbox-like storage service, ownCloud. Just like Dropbox and UBC Workspace, ownCloud allows you to synchronize a folder on your computer to the network and access your files through a web portal. Files and folders are easily shared, with customizable tiered access.


Why You need to store a massive research project that exceeds the storage resources offered by UBC.

  • Starting storage capability of 50GB.
  • Free for Canadian researchers or those collaborating on Canadian research projects.
  • WestGrid is compliant with federal, provincial, and UBC security policies, since the data is stored in Canada.


  • Users must learn basics of UNIX file handling, how to transfer files, submit and monitor batch jobs, monitor disk storage, and more.
  • Users are responsible for knowing the memory requirements, time estimates, and required disk space for their projects.
  • Charges for backup tapes or specialized software requests.

Eligibility Requirements See WestGrid’s FAQ for Prospective Users.
Pricing Free for routine use. Additional costs for backup tapes or specialized software requests.

Getting Started

Visit WestGrid for instructions on how to apply for an account.

What is a Virtual Server?

UBC IT also hosts Virtual Servers, which can be a powerful option for computer-savvy users. Virtual servers work just like traditional physical servers, except hardware and software resources are shared with other operating systems.

With a Virtual Server, you can store your research files, host websites, build databases, and create web applications. File storage is just one possible function out of many others, and the server is fully customizable to your specific needs. Though UBC IT will take care of setup and deployment, you will be responsible for the complete maintenance, administration, and upkeep of the server.

Though this option is more expensive and laborious, it can be useful if you need more than file storage and if you know how to administrate and maintain servers.


Why You have a large research project, and you need to do more than just store and share files. You also know how to maintain and administrate servers.

  • User has full control and can customize any aspect of the server.
  • Automatic backups are made daily and weekly by UBC IT.


  • The management console is only supported on Mozilla Firefox.
  • User is responsible for patching and managing software and for server security.
  • UBC IT’s Virtual Servers currently do not support any applications that require additional hardware (e.g. peripheral cards or USB security keys) or large amounts of processing power (e.g. graphics applications).
  • Arts ISIT can only offer limited support on a case-by-case basis.

Eligibility Requirements Users must have a Campus-Wide Login (CWL) account.
Pricing $250 per year for 64GB. Paid options for additional space.

Getting Started

Message us through the contact tab or visit us in person to request a Virtual Server.