Moving Your Files

Whether distributing a document to be edited, sending yourself a copy so that you can work elsewhere, or preparing an important presentation, files have to be moved all the time.

When moving a file, it is important to keep track of which versions are stored where. Editing the file and then forgetting to resend or upload it does you no good. It's a nasty surprise to find out that the version of your presentation available on netFiles is three months old and not the brand new shiny version that you made the night before. So when working on a file that will eventually be accessed from a different location, always, always, always remember to resend or upload the new version.


Every member of the Whitman community has an account automatically set up on netFiles. netFiles is an online service that allows users to upload and access files anywhere that they have access to the internet. The files remain available on the users account until the user chooses to delete them, meaning that should you decide to revisit that long-lost core paper that just-so-happened to be on the same topic as your senior thesis, you would be able to do so (so long as you hadn't deleted it).

However, netFiles does not automatically upload files for you if you make changes. You have to re-upload the file each time that you work on it if you want to be able to access it from somewhere else.

USB Keys

USB keys allow you to move your data around with your own person. This eliminates the need for internet access and therefore negates many of the issues surrounding the transfer of files. However, if using a USB key, you do have to save your file to the device each and every time that it is changed. 

When using a USB key, there are some general things to remember:

  • When your USB is plugged in, files will not save there automatically. To put a file onto your USB, you need to save your file on the USB device specifically. Your USB should show up as an extra drive on your computer.
  • When removing your USB key, make sure to tell your computer that you plan to do so. This generally involves right-clicking on your USB drive symbol (near your clock) and clicking " Safely Remove Hardware." This ensures that no data will be lost upon the removal of the device.
Important: Because a USB key is a physical object, and not online, it is important to keep track of it. Keep it somewhere that you'll remember and have handy (such as on a keychain) so that you can find it easily.

Online File Storage

Many of the online file storage services that are currently available provide synchronization. This essentially means that whenever you change a file on your personal computer, the file available via the service will be changed as well. This eliminates the need to re-upload your file every single time you want to edit it, saving you a lot of time and frustration. 

A good, popular service is Dropbox, a file-hosting service that allows you to store and share information via the Internet. It creates a "file repository" that keeps a copy both on any local computer you install their software on, and on Dropbox's server as well. As long as you have Dropbox installed on the computer that you are moving your files too, you're good-to-go.

Note: In addition to simply serving as generic file storage services, many of these services can securely back up important files. See our page on Backup page for more information.


E-mailing yourself a file is generally a poor option, especially when services such as netFiles are available. Unlike netFiles or USB keys, E-mail attachments are easily lost or deleted. In addition to not having a relatively stable and permanent copy of your file available whenever you might need it, attached files tend to take up a lot of the space allotted to you on your E-mail account. Routinely sending yourself files via E-mail attachments would fill your E-mail storage quota quite rapidly.

E-mails also require you to send yourself a new version each time you work on a file. Since the new version does not delete the original (as is possible in netFiles), the attachments pile up quickly--further increasing the storage space taken up.

Was this guide helpful?

Check all that apply

Additional Comments:

Contact Info (Optional)

If you would like us to contact you, please include your contact details below.
Name: Email or phone number: