Cloud storage UTBox offered to all — but used by few

Wynne Davis

UTBox, a secure cloud storage space provided by Information Technology Services, is offered for free to all 74,000 University students, staff and faculty — but so far, only 11,972 have made use of the service, which costs the University $197,000 annually.

The UTBox service is provided through Box, a privately owned company that provides a cloud sharing platform for individuals, universities, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. All UTBox users are initially provided with 50 gigabtyes of data, though users can request additional data if necessary.

Chief Information Officer Brad Englert said UTBox provides a more secure storage alternative to Dropbox, which he said is important even if the issue does not concern most UT students.

“UT-Austin needed a secure way to share and store data,” Englert said. “Unlike Dropbox, UTBox fills this need. It would be safe to say that UTBox is widely used by a significant number of faculty and researchers on campus.” 

ITS approved funding for UTBox in spring 2013 as a replacement for WebSpace, another online file sharing service. WebSpace will be retired on May 19, after many issues arose with the security liabilities that the provider did not address in a timely manner, according to Englert. UT purchased Box services through Internet2, a nonprofit community comprised of 247 U.S. universities. Though the University pays roughly $200,000 annually for Box services, Englert said most students don’t need to use it. 

“We don’t actively advertise UTBox to students, since most students use Google Drive for data storage as part of their UTmail account,” Englert said.

Offices around campus use UTBox for work-related matters. Biomedical engineering junior Aydin Zahedivash, said he uses UTBox when working in the McCombs School of Business computer services department as well as school projects.

“I use [it] for storing large files I need for school that I don’t want to keep on my computer,” Zahedivash said. “There is quite a lot of space that UT provides so it’s good for this.”

Zahedivash said he likes that he can put files into UTBox and know that they are safe and secure.

Even though the University provides free storage service, many students have not heard of the program. Biology freshman Bharath Lavendra said he had not heard of UTBox before, but felt even though UTBox offered a lot of storage, he may not use it.

“It’s kind of sad that it’s not better publicized because I don’t know anyone that is using it,” Lavendra said. “Sites like Google Drive and Dropbox already fill that need really, so I don’t know how much UTBox is really needed.”