This is a possible method for sharing files when working remotely. By using the “file stream” functionality of a Pearson College London portal account (which is hosted on Google) you can have a shared drive which is available to all team members on their personal computers.
If you have a PCL email address, which ends in @pearsoncollege.com or @pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk then you will be able to use this. Normal personal gmail accounts will likely not support it, and only be able to use Backup and Sync which works slightly differently and is not included in this process.
You will obviously need an internet connection, and of course the faster the better. However, the advantage to using Drive File Stream is that you only need to download the files you open, and can choose to keep an entire folder offline (downloaded in its entirety to your computer) only if you need to. Otherwise, all files are visible, but stay remote unless accessed.
Most information about installing and working with Drive File Stream is available from Google themselves, so we will redirect you to those where they exist since they are the primary source of information and will be updated as some parts change. This guide concentrates on adapting these systems to the way you may want to work for your projects.
File Stream Download
To get started, download the client for Windows or MacOS, and follow the instructions to install it
The full instructions and download link are only displayed if logged into an account that supports File Stream. If you see a blue button as shown below, click it on that page and log in using your email address ending in pearsoncollegelondon.ac.uk or pearsoncollege.com and then you should see the full information.
- If you have a previous Google Drive sync application installed, you will probably need to remove it first
- Sign in with your PCL email account, not a personal Google account
- macOS users on a recent version should note the following instruction:
Once installed, you should have a G: drive (Windows) or on macOS you should see a “Google Drive” device in the Finder.
Inside will be your own drive, labelled My Drive and an entry for Shared Drives
To work on a shared project, as will be evident, you need to use Shared Drives. If you don’t see anything in there then you either have not been given permission, or it still needs to be set up. Only the project leader needs to perform that process, they should read the “Drive Owner” section for guidelines.
Online vs Offline
As a user, there are a few important things to remember regarding “online” and “offline”:
- A file or folder with a cloud icon is hosted remotely, not on your computer
- If a file is set to be “Available Offline” it means a copy is saved locally on your computer, however changes will still be pushed up to the shared drive
- Big files or large amounts of smaller files will take some time to synchronise with the shared drive and with other people, it won’t be immediate as is the case when working onsite at Escape. This depends on the speed of the internet connections people have
- Files or folders saved offline will take up space on your own computer. See the later section for how to configure where they are stored
- Only save folders offline if you are working constantly with them. This means they will work faster, but your internet connection will be under heavier load when all changes are pushed back to the shared drive, especially if you are generated larger amounts of data
The default settings are fine for many cases, but there are some options you may want to tweak if they apply to you.
To access Settings, click the drive icon in the system tray and then click the cog icon in the top right and choose Preferences from the menu that appears
For these settings, the following may need to be changed in certain circumstances:
- Launch on system start-up: It’s usually fine to leave this enabled as it is by default, unless you prefer to launch it manually only when needed
- Local cached files directory: You may want to change this only if your C: drive is for example a small SSD, and you don’t want to fill it up (since the C: drive should always have some free space, otherwise it causes problems)
- Default Drive Letter: If you have several additional drives (either internal or external) then you may find that G: is already in use and a letter further along the alphabet is more suitable. Also if using a workflow such as Shotgun, you may need this letter to be consistent among all team members, so it would be changed here if needed
Restricting Bandwidth Use
If you click “Network Settings” at the bottom of Preferences, options to limit download and upload rate are available. These are important if you are sharing your internet connection with others, since a large download or upload could affect them too, you may not be too popular if you cause problems with your housemates or siblings who are trying to stream video/play online games.
We can’t give you the numbers you should use since it depends on the speed of your internet connection. But some points to bear in mind:
- Upload speed is always lower than download speed since most users download far more than they upload. But if you saturate your upload, it will also affect the download speed. Do a speed test online to see what you’re getting. Bear in mind other people downloading/uploading will distort the results of the test if happening at the same time
- You may want to aim for a download limit to be half of your download speed, and upload limit to be half of your upload speed
- Internet connection speeds are usually given in megabits per second (Mb/sec) but download speeds in browsers are usually given in megabytes (MB/sec) or kilobytes per second (kB/sec). Yes it’s annoying, and even worse, companies will sometimes get the capitalisation wrong without knowing how important it is. A megabyte is eight times larger than a megabit.
The File Stream client uses kB/sec - kilobytes per second when setting limts. As a rough guide, use the following to get numbers that will use approximately 50% of your internet bandwidth:
Speed in megabits per second * 62 = 50% of internet bandwidth in kB/sec
Make sure you use speed figures from speed tests, preferably conducted when others are not using the connection.
So if your speed tests gave 42 Mb/sec download, 9 Mb/sec upload:
Download: 42 * 62 = 2604
Upload: 9 * 62 = 558
The number are not exact, and you won’t be able use decimal points in File Stream, so round them off a bit such as shown below – but don’t use these actual numbers unless the example speeds are the same as yours!
This section is intended for those group/project leaders who will set up the shared drives and decide who gets access
You should first complete the setup as shown in the setup section
Your main resource for information and step by step guides about Shared Drive management is the document linked below:
Some general guidelines are as follows:
- As per standard best practice in all things pipeline, avoid spaces in file and folder names. They just cause problems, use_underscores or camelCase to make things more readable without needing spaces. This includes the shared drive name, use “Our_Project” instead of “Our Project”. Sadly there’s nothing that can be done about the space in “Shared Drives” but that’s outside of the structure you will create
- The project lead should be given full rights (if it's not you), and set up folder structures ahead of time that the team members should use and follow
- Organise in such a way that it’s possible to keep large silos of data separate from each other. So if you have multiple image sequences or large caches, keep them in separate folders to allow people that only need access to some, to keep offline the minimum amount of data
- Restrict permissions to the least necessary. So if you want to give access to someone without them needing to actually contribute/modify, you can give them “Commenter” access. The access level you should give to a team member is generally the “Contributor” role, which allows the creation and editing of files but restricts deleting or moving files around. But if this is too restrictive, then the default “Content Manager” role may be more suitable, see the table in section 1.2 of the above linked page for a more detailed breakdown. Restricting permissions is not so much about trust, but more about limiting what kind of accidents are possible. It’s very easy to accidentally “move” when you intended to “copy”, and this can cause great inconvenience when it does occur
- Some functions are only available in the https://drive.google.com web interface. For example, if you want to roll a file back to a previous revision then you'd need to do that by right-clicking the file in the web interface and choosing "Manage versions"