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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions about upcoming Google storage and service changes

These FAQs should help answer a lot of your questions about the upcoming service changes to Google Workspace, Microsoft 365, email, and calendars at Virginia Tech. 

If you have additional questions, please refer to the user information pages on this website, or contact 4Help at 4help.vt.edu or by calling 540-231-4357.

What everyone needs to know

The changes to licensing structures from Google and Microsoft created a need to control costs, as well as an opportunity to simplify the administration of email, and strengthen cybersecurity protections.

We must make changes to align with these new license models. As we do so, we also are committed to making sure that we are providing the right services to meet the specific needs of each constituent group in our diverse Virginia Tech community.

  • Virginia Tech will continue to provide email services for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and retirees.
  • Alumni will keep their @vt.edu email addresses.
  • Google Workspace and Google Groups will still be available for students, employees, and current retirees.
  • Microsoft 365 will still be available for students, employees, and new retirees. 
  • Usernames and passphrases are not affected by this change.

Exchange Online offers many benefits that are not available with Gmail. It improves the security of VT email services by leveraging Microsoft's Defender for Office 365 advanced threat protections for all users. This aims to reduce phishing attacks and identity theft and to verify safe email links and attachments. 

Consolidating email and calendars to the Exchange Online platform will also streamline and enhance the user experience and reduce our storage footprint in Google Workspace.

These changes will affect different portions of the university community in different ways. For details that are specific to your role at the university, visit the page(s) on this website that fit your current role at Virginia Tech:

If you have more than one role, you will have access to the services and accounts that apply to each of your roles in the following order of priority: Department, Employee, Student, Alumni, Retiree.

For example, if you are both a student and an employee, you will receive  Microsoft email and calendar and both Microsoft and Google storage services at the employee level as that affiliation takes priority. 

If you’re a student or employee, you will still have Google Workspace apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, Sites, etc.), plus at least 5 GB of storage, through Virginia Tech.

If you’re an alum, VT Google Gmail is still available, but no other services.

Retirees who retired on or before June 1, 2023 will keep Google Gmail and other Google Workspace services.

And of course, for everyone, Gmail and Google apps are still available commercially for personal use after these changes take effect.

In phases, Virginia Tech will migrate email and calendar data for employees, students, and new retirees starting in November 2023.

For Google Workspace, make sure you are logged into Google with your Virginia Tech account. Then check your totals at this link: https://drive.google.com/settings/storage

Instructions will be published soon for Microsoft 365.

No. The planned migration services will include email and calendars for affected groups only. Users will be responsible for moving their data out of Google Photos, Google Drive, Google shared drives as needed.

Current employees, students, and certain retirees (retired on or before June 1, 2023) will still have access to Google Drive storage and may or may not need to move data out of Google Drive.

Alumni and new retirees (retiring after June 2, 2023) will need to move all data out of their Virginia Tech Google storage to another storage service.

For guidance on how to prepare, please visit the user information page on this site that applies to you. This knowledge base article is available to help those who wish to use Google Takeout for Google data.

Yes, this seems to be correct. The era of free or low-cost online file storage is coming to an end, and the Virginia Tech community needs to change how we plan for and administer these platforms. The university's IT Transformation Program also has a recommendation to reduce software redundancy and rationalize our application portfolio, and enacting these limits is an important milestone towards those goals. 

Individuals can keep their email aliases.

Google Photos was never an official part of Virginia Tech's core license, and was something that Google made available without prior discussion with the university. The current round of license changes have created an opportunity to return to compliance with our core license. As such, access to Virginia Tech’s Google Photos app will end.

Because Virginia Tech does not have administrative control over content placed in the Photos app, Virginia Tech will have no way to retrieve or delete this data from Virginia Tech accounts once access to the Photos app is discontinued on January 16, 2024. Any data left within the app will count against the user. That is why it is important for users to review content in their Photos app, export all content they wish to keep, and then delete all files from the app well ahead of the deadline. 

All users should complete remove all files from Google Photos prior to January 16, 2024.

More information and guidance can be found on the Google Photos export and relocation guide.

Alumni FAQs

Changes are coming to the Google apps you may currently access through your Virginia Tech account. Alumni will retain their Google account and vt.edu address; however the only Google service available will be Gmail. This will occur by June 2024.

Detailed information on services changes for alumni are available on this website.

No, it will remain the same.

As long as you remain an employee, you will receive all services as outlined on the employee information page. As an alum, you will receive the alumni Gmail service; however, email will arrive in your Exchange Online mailbox while you remain an active employee. 

No, you will only receive Gmail.

You will no longer have storage through your Virginia Tech account. If you have files in your Virginia Tech Google Drive and Google Photos that you want to keep, begin transferring them to a new location. There are many low and no-cost personal cloud storage options available.

Your email aliases will remain.

If you graduated in May 2023 or December 2023, your email and calendar have been moved to Exchange Online. This change is temporary. At Virginia Tech, recent graduates are still recognized as students in university systems for several months, while a number of steps occur in the background to move your status from ‘student’ to ‘recent student’ and then to ‘alumni.’ Because of this, coupled with the timing of the student email migrations, 2023 graduates are in a unique position of being moved to Exchange Online for a period. This also means that 2023 graduates will retain their student Google storage for a longer period than anticipated. 

To access your Virginia Tech email, log in to my.office365.vt.edu, or see this 4Help article for help accessing your Exchange Online account.

Eventually, when your affiliation with the university changes to “alumni,” your Virginia Tech email service will move back to Gmail, and you will lose access to calendar service, in accordance with alumni service changesNote that when this occurs, your old emails will not be migrated into your new Gmail account, so you may want to take steps to save the ones that are important to you prior to the change back to Gmail.

We also recommend that you start planning for additional alumni service changes now: move any files you want to retain out of your VT Google Drive to a different service; find a different calendar service if you currently rely on your VT-provided calendar, and make sure you have nothing in Google Photos.

Department FAQs

Departments are defined using Banner data. Our current contract allows for 40 GB per employee per department base storage for Google Workspace and 75 GB per employee per department for Microsoft 365. Contract renewals will require an assessment of this amount to determine if it needs to change (increase or decrease).

Managing a shared drive involves two different aspects: managing access and managing storage.

Managing Access

Google shared drives have different levels of access: viewer, contributor, content manager, and manager. To manage a shared drive’s settings, membership, and roles, departments must ensure that at least one employee (preferably, two) in their department has the Manager role on that shared drive. For more information, please see the 4Help Knowledge Base article on Virginia Tech Google Shared Drive

Departments should direct employees who would like to request a new shared drive to this Service Catalog request item.
 
Managing Storage 
Departments will be responsible for managing storage within their shared drives by either: A) ensuring that their shared drives do not exceed the 5 GB storage limit, or B) allocating more storage to shared drives as needed. Storage can be allocated from their departmental storage pool or by purchasing additional Google Workspace storage in 10 TB increments.

Effective May 10, 2023, new shared drive requests need to be approved by a person listed on the department's official approver list with Identity Management Customer Support (IMCS). Creation of new shared drives will not be permitted without this approval, and will be disallowed altogether for students, retirees, and alumni.

The process for requesting and approving a new shared drive will be handled through this request form that is available through the IT Service Catalog.

In the future, there will also be a process for requesting and approving new SharePoint or Teams sites.

On May 10, 2023, the creation of new GAE accounts was discontinued. As an alternative, authorized individuals may request a VT PACE account for shared email account needs. There are also other alternatives - see this article for additional information about GAE alternatives.

They will be converted to Room objects in Exchange Online.

Employee FAQs

This will greatly depend on which services you use for your instruction. Canvas will not be affected. Information for instructors who use Google is available on the employee information page

Yes, except for Gmail and Calendar, Google core services will remain  available for collaboration. You will also have additional collaboration options available through Microsoft 365.

More information for instructors who use Google Workspace in their courses is available here.

While the applications can be used interchangeably, their feature sets are not identical. You will still be able create and share course materials in Microsoft 365.  

No, it will stay the same. You will continue to use your "username@vt.edu" to log into both Google Workspace and Microsoft services at Virginia Tech.

If you are currently using Gmail to access your VT email, plan to continue using Gmail until your scheduled email migration to Exchange. Waiting until your scheduled email migration will help simplify the process for you and all users at Virginia Tech.

So, if you have not already done so, please do not provision an Exchange Online mailbox on your own yet.

Microsoft 365 Exchange Online will be considered the definitive email solution for employees after email migration has concluded on March 1, 2024. From this point, employees should use the Outlook client on Exchange Online to send and receive email. You have the option to use the Outlook web client, or you can install and configure the Outlook desktop and/or mobile apps on your devices.

The following 4Help Knowledge Base articles might help:

Retiree FAQs

No, your VT username and password will stay the same. Your email address and login will stay the same, too.

Employee affiliations have the highest precedence. As long as you are also an employee, you will be able to access Google Workspace and  Microsoft 365, with storage limits that apply to your employee affiliation.

It depends on your date of retirement. If you retired on or before June 1, 2023, you will still have up to 10 GB of Google storage available.

However, if you retire(d) on June 2, 2023 or after, you will receive Microsoft 365 services, with up to 10 GB of Microsoft storage available. You will have access to Google Drive (i.e., your account will work) so that you can access documents shared with you, but you will not have storage within the Google Workspace environment yourself. If you fall into this group, you will need to transfer any files you own within your VT Google Workspace to another location.

See retiree information for details. 

Any university data in a retiree's account that resides within Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 should be transferred to an appropriate department.

Student FAQs

For most students, the biggest changes will be:

  • moving from Gmail to Exchange Online for email and calendars, and 
  • removing content from Google Photos. 

You'll still have your Google Workspace, and as long as you have less than 5 GB of data stored in your Google Workspace (more than 80 percent of students are under this limit already), you can keep using it normally. 

There are other changes to be aware of, though, which are listed on the student information page.

You must find a department willing to be responsible for the shared drive. The best way to start is to contact the faculty member most associated with the work in that shared drive — they can request their department to claim responsibility for that drive.

Microsoft 365 offers OneDrive (the equivalent of My Drive). You will have 10 GB of storage in Microsoft 365.

Student email and calendar services are now being moved from Gmail/Google Calendar to Exchange Online (Outlook). The majority of students have been moved over as of January 10, 2024. Wintermester student accounts will be moved after wintermester courses are complete.  

To access your email, log into Exchange Online at my.office365.vt.edu. For help accessing your Virginia Tech Exchange Online account, please see this article.

If you graduated in May 2023 or December 2023, your email and calendar have been moved to Exchange Online. This change is temporary. At Virginia Tech, recent graduates are still recognized as students in university systems for several months, while a number of steps occur in the background to move your status from ‘student’ to ‘recent student’ and then to ‘alumni.’ Because of this, coupled with the timing of the student email migrations, 2023 graduates are in a unique position of being moved to Exchange Online for a period. This also means that 2023 graduates will retain their student Google storage for a longer period than anticipated. 

To access your Virginia Tech email, log in to my.office365.vt.edu, or see this 4Help article for help accessing your Exchange Online account.

Eventually, when your affiliation with the university changes to “alumni,” your Virginia Tech email service will move back to Gmail, and you will lose access to calendar service, in accordance with alumni service changesNote that when this occurs, your old emails will not be migrated into your new Gmail account, so you may want to take steps to save the ones that are important to you prior to the change back to Gmail.

We also recommend that you start planning for additional alumni service changes now: move any files you want to retain out of your VT Google Drive to a different service; find a different calendar service if you currently rely on your VT-provided calendar, and make sure you have nothing in Google Photos.

Microsoft 365 Exchange Online should be considered the definitive email solution for students. From this point forward, students should use the Outlook client on Exchange Online to send and receive email. You have the option to use the Outlook web client, or you can install and configure the Outlook desktop and/or mobile apps on your devices.

The following 4Help Knowledge Base articles might help: