Repository - link to or copy files

Picture of Silvia Pinheiro
Repository - link to or copy files


I have been reading about repositories within Moodle because I'm looking for a solution that has been discussed here already, however I still have doubts and so I would like to know if someone could help me.


• Allow pupils to upload their work through Moodle to an external platform

• Make something easy to use for pupils


• Use external service/platform in order to prevent overload the capacity of Moodle’s server

• Use the benefit of the space provided to schools by external services

• Pupils would use the same credentials for those services in the same way they use them on schools or at home

• Students/Teachers can't create activities within our context


• Use “Link to the file directly” option is selected when they are uploading the file, because in that way, a link is saved instead of the file and then the teacher can see it.

Plugins Researched:

• Google Drive

• Dropbox

• Microsoft One Drive

• Microsoft OneNote

• Office365

• Youtube

Comparing Google Drive with Dropbox:

According to this discussion "Most recent versions of Moodle there is a check box that has the effect of NOT copying it to Moodle filedir (" -> Where is that option? I can't see it in the same way that I can see for wikimedia/youtube(?) when I'm adding an image. 

Besides there's this comment on that discussion as well "Dropbox - link to or copy files from Dropbox.... Google Drive - bring files from your Google Drive account (...) Google Drive doesn't have the option to link to the file."

I've looked for the function related to "how the file can be picked from this repository", supported_returntypes, and for my version (2.8.7) the supported types for dropbox are FILE_INTERNAL | FILE_REFERENCE | FILE_EXTERNAL and for Google Drive it's just FILE_INTERNAL. According to documentation ( this makes me believe that the file is still stored locally on the Moodle's server or it would be something smaller related to cache?

Through this discussion (, I was able to find the folders where the files are stored on the Moodle's server, but because they are encrypted I'm not sure if it's just cache related or if it's really the copied file.

Later I've found out that we can't access dropbox and the students that use our Moodle can't access Youtube, Wikimedia or Dropbox.

About Office365 repository (, on its documentation says "If you want to link a file choose "Create an alias/shortcut to the file". This will create a link in Moodle to the file in OneDrive, and the file will be accessed from OneDrive directly." and all of the support types referred before are supported, however it seems that this option would refer to  the FILE_REFERENCE option, which means "the file may be cached locally". Thus, would this be the equivalent encrypted file that I've found for some of my files while I was testing Google Drive? If around 300 pupils create posts with link to this types of files won't the storage or course backup be affected on a long term basis?

I appreciate all your help. 



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Picture of Nadav Kavalerchik
Re: Repository - link to or copy files
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Not sure about other repositories, but with Google drive... you are copying a document into Moodle. (let's say you are using the File resource, as a teacher). You are not linking to a live version of the document inside the user's Google drive account.

Which seems very useful if the students ask to submit an a Google drive document as an assignment, as you do not whan them to continue editing it after the have submitted it. and the above "feature" is actually taking a snapshot of the Google drive document into Moodle's assignment activity.

Not sure if that is what you are looking for, but it is one common way we are using it.

Btw, as we speak (write)... an improvement to the above mentioned copying process: MDL-33483 gets integrated into core and will be available with Moodle 3.3

Also, there is that new Moodle Google drive module I developed that enable the teacher to create and share a Google drive document from his own account with her/his students (link) which you already know of, and which seems to be more useful to your scenario, as far as I understand it.

You might also consider the Google drive modules developed by the UK OU team: "Moodle Portfolio activity" (which btw uses Google's collections/folders),  and also a Google Collaborative activity.

Hope it helps smile

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