VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Research Data Management

Using Google Drive for Data Storage at VCU

Google Drive (part of Google Apps for Education provided by VCU to staff and faculty) can be used to store non-sensitive and some sensitive data as outlined below. Faculty and staff at VCU have unlimited storage, but it is important to be careful about what you store and how you set up your files.

Allowable Data

According to the VCU/VCUHS Joint Information Management and Security Framework, Google Drive can be used to store most data. In some cases, you will need to set up your folders according to the instructions in the next section to keep your data secure.

Data that can be stored in Google Drive: First name, init/Last name, FERPA directory information, Employee/Personnel Records, University Financial Records, Contracts/Grants info, Information under NDA, Investigative/Court Information, Protected Research/Intellectual Information, Information belonging to federal government with sensitivity rating of low (FISMA low), copyrighted protected information

Data that can be stored in Google Drive with proper sharing and access control: SSN, FERPA Non-directory information, Driver’s License or State Issued ID, Criminal Justice Information, Financial Aid Information, Donor information, PII of Children Under 13, PPRA regulated information, PII of EU Citizens, Authentication (Log-in) Credentials (if encrypted)

Data that needs assessment/approval and proper sharing and access control: Medical/Mental History, Medical Treatment or Diagnoses Information, Health Insurance Policy numbers, HIPAA PHI (ACE/from Covered Entities), Identifiable genetic information

Data that can not be stored in Google Drive: Credit/Debit Card info, dbGaP data, The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) data, Information belonging to federal government with sensitivity rating of moderate or high (FISMA, Moderate+High), Export Controlled Information

Setting Up Folders

If you are happy with the way you organize your physical records, you can use the same structure in your Google Drive. You might want to add a ReadMe Document to your folders to clarify what information is in that folder. This is especially helpful for spreadsheets, where a readme file can be used to define what is being recorded in the various rows and columns.

If  you need to find another method of organization, one way is to create folders for each Project, then another level of folders for the types of experiments, surveys, and data collection you do.

The important thing to remember when you create folders and documents that will be shared with collaborators, be they students, technicians, or other faculty, is that you must make sure you, as the owner, are the only one who can share or delete the documents. Normally, when you share documents and make a person an editor, they have the access shown in this table:

sharing options.png


But you can limit the ability of editors to share documents by changing the Sharing settings. At the bottom of the Sharing settings window there will be an option to Change what editors can do.

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By selecting ‘Only the owner can change the permissions,’ editors will not be able to share files with others.

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You can also view this video on safe file sharing from VCU Technology Services.