Thursday, 10 June 2010

Managing files

First meeting yesterday morning to discuss our data and file management strategy. Currently we have many places to store files and data ranging from individual hard discs to services we provide including uSpace and the VLE, to cloud spaces such as iDiscs or Google docs. We know that our users (and that includes us), put stuff where it's easiest, and tend to be indiscriminate about what they keep - ie everything. It's not unusual for people to keep every email they've ever received or sent, just because they haven't the time to manage it, and go through through and delete stuff. I archive my email every year, and I could count on one hand the number of times I've gone back to look at the archive folder in the past 10 years. So why are we so attached to it? Why don't we just delete everything over a certain time limit? In case there's something in an email that's important and we have to go back to it is the normal answer - but, in the words of our records manager - "if it's important, it shouldn't be stored in an email". Wise words. I am going to make much more of an attempt to manage my email properly in future. Honest.

With all of these places to store things, how do we advise our users, and how do we help them find stuff? We had a very good discussion on many issues, and as usual came up with more questions than answers, but are now starting two pieces of work - an advisory docment for users, and a file storage strategy for ourselves, which will have to take into account cloud services as we move more of our services into them.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen Dropbox? It's a fantastic cloud storage / collaboration application - I've been using it for a few years now and can't speak highly enough of it.

Chris Sexton said...

Yep - used dropbox several times - agree it's very good

Chris May said...

Since I started archiving all of my mail to gmail, I've found it's much more common for me to go back and get stuff out of the archives, because there's actually a good chance of finding it. I probably use something more than a year old once a week or so.

I wonder if some of the perceived disadvantages of storing important documents in email are really just shortcomings of enterprise email search?

It's certainly nice not to have to try and decide in advance whether a particular message will turn out to be important five years into the future...

Mike Gardner said...

RE It's not unusual for people to keep every email they've ever received or sent, just because they haven't the time to manage it, and go through through and delete stuff.

I dont think I'll ever have time to go back though my email and delete stuff but some old emails are useful and worth keeping so I tend to keep them all. If only it was easier for me to flag these "keepers" when I first read them then I'd be happier for the rest to automatically be archived after 12months and deleted after say 18months.

How do we make email management easier for our users?