Adventures in Information Technology: Creating a Networked File Sharing Strategy

Adventures in Information Technology: Creating a Networked File Sharing Strategy

June 6

Network-based file sharing has become common in the information technology era. It’s a relatively straightforward process when the activity is contained across a small group within a single platform, but grows more complicated as more users get in on the action. The more people involved, the more files you have in different formats in different folders spread across what these days could be multiple devices.

Managing a networked file sharing initiative is challenging in today’s diverse and dynamic IT environment, but like most things in this life, it can be pulled of with a little strategic planning.

Take Control of Access

In the business setting, different people generally require different levels of access to corporate files. Team projects, for example, may call for all ten members to have access to a folder that contains project specs. However, files related to payroll and invoicing should probably be reserved for people in human resources or management. Making sure personnel at all levels only sees data they were meant to see requires a file management system that enforces granular access control. This way, you can manage access on an individual file-by-file, folder-by-folder basis.

Establish a File Saving Structure

Networked file sharing can really get out of hand in the company that takes a willy nilly approach to naming files. In simple terms, they have no real policies in place and pretty much let employees save files however they please. This is like begging for a chaotic situation to crop up any day.

Allowing employees to save files in their own names may seem convenient at the time, but could easily lead to duplicates, lost data and other potential issues. Administrators have to consider the vicious cycle that regularly sees workers leaving for new jobs, getting terminated and being moved into different positions. An example of a better structure would be naming those files by something more relevant such as save date, and their associated folders after client or project names. This approach, combined with a policy of strictly using company-compatible file formats, is both simple and effective in creating an architecture that makes data easy to organize and find.

Think Like Google

When it comes to actually hunting down those files, a tool that automates the discovery aspect can be quite valuable, especially when there is scores of data stored on the local drive. Most operating systems have a default utility that combs local folders for files, but there are also third-party tools that offer the promise of digging a bit deeper. The best of these tools can deliver more accurate results by giving you more search parameters to choose from, while offering the added benefit of maintaining optimal system performance during the discovery process.

Adopt a Reliable Backup Plan

The integrity and availability of company data can be compromised by an array of threats, including hackers, malicious software, hardware failure and natural disasters. Many such threats, particularly those related to privacy and security, are often compounded when files are shared by multiple people across multiple devices. Due to the fact that anything can happen at any time, any networked file sharing strategy should be supported by a rock-solid backup plan.

Several options exist for backing up files and folders, but these solutions are limiting as you must select the files and folders to save. The better solution is an image-based backup system that takes a full snapshot of your system so there’s no chance of missing something. The value of backup strategies that store data both in and out of the cloud is also gaining more recognition in the IT community. With so many viable options available to you, there are no longer any excuses for not backing up your stuff — as if there should have been any to begin with.

The most basic advances in information technology have made sharing files and folders over a network simple enough, but there are challenges. Getting the network to a point where it can seamlessly support the sharing of data in fast, secure and reliable fashion is no walk in the park for administrators. Luckily, these hurdles can be cleared with some sound planning, use of the proper tools, and a small dose of good ole common sense from the troops, which depending on your staff, may have to be hammered in from time to time.