Most people don’t think very much about how and where they store their business documents. Word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentations – they usually are saved on the user’s local device. This is bad. It is bad at several levels. A few of the more obvious are:
- reliability of access – computers crash. Single copies get lost.
- shared access – others need to see, work on, or reference documents.
- security of access – information in the wrong hands can be extremely damaging.
- archival access – finding older documents should be simple and reliable.
Most of us don’t deal with information that can change the world, or even impact our own lives in a significant way. Most of us aren’t handling super-secret strategy emails. Even so, any information can be used for negative purposes, or if not available at the right time, can impede progress. How many times have you said to someone “I know I have that information, but I can’t find it.” Or worse, “My computer crashed, and it took 10 years worth of company planning documents with it.” People have jumped off buildings for less.
What to do about this ongoing problem? Here are a few suggestions.
- Store your documents in a shared drive or cloud service. This raises security concerns, but they can be handled. At least there isn’t a single location for the document. There are two major options:
- On-site shared drives. A relatively economical solution, which doesn’t require an in-house server, is to use a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device such as a QNAP device. These appear in your Finder or Windows Explorer as another drive. Properly configured, they are only accessible within your network, although they can be made externally available with security.
- Cloud services such as DropBox, Google Drive, or OneDrive make copies on a real-time basis so that the versions on your local machine match those in the Cloud service. The documents can be accessed with another device once properly authenticated. Google Drive and OneDrive are usually purchased as part of their respective office suites.
- Shared or Cloud drives can be shared selectively with people within or outside your organisation. This enables efficient collaboration.
- Sharing internal or Cloud drives is on a Group or Per-User basis. This can be as simple as adding an individual’s email address, to as complex as implementing an Active Directory security model.
- Either a Shared or Cloud drive has the capability of inherent archiving. In the case of a Cloud service, there may be an extra charge, depending on how far back you wish to maintain data. On a Shared drive, a back-up routine needs to be configured. Often these backups are to a different location, either Cloud, or another linked NAS. There are many options, each with a trade-off between complexity, cost, and convenience.
Pet Peeve: “Data” is the plural form. The phrase “The data is…” is incorrect. The proper phrase is “The data are….” The singular form is “datum”.
In short, data is your business’s life. Protect it or run the risk of compromising your business.