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How accurate are your files?


Many are still struggling and fighting to keep storing files like we have done since file storage started. With folders and subfolders and subfolders of subfolders. How accurate is your data when you store it that way? I have not seen any storage that did not have duplicate stored files in different folders, or in two different subfolders.

One of the key areas of information security is accuracy and reliability of stored data. I am surprised that many information security professionals don´t talk about that storing files in a folder-hierarchy will create issues with data accuracy and reliability of data stored.

Another issue is that many store their files without any other versioning than adding version to the file name such as ”G:\customers\customers on a\A-company\qoutes\qoute_draft_20161113_Version1.1.2A\qoute for new SharePoint file storage in Office 365.doc”. Using this you create a lot of problems, some of them are

  • Users will by accident store the files in different folders, either by dragging and dropping to the wrong folder or by using different naming standards.
  • Microsoft Office has a limitation of 255 characters in a file path except for Excel that only has 218 as you can refer to a sheet and a cell in a file.
  • When you store this in SharePoint and you use File explorer to browse SharePoint library you add the URL to the path. (
  • Another issue with naming files like that is that a space will be represented in the link as %20. That is the ASCII character for a space, it will add 3 characters for each blank.
  • If the path is longer than the limitation a file will be created with no data! (The file storing procedure is to first create a file and the store the data in the file).
  • Using versioning in the filename have been forgotten when the file is sent to the customer.
  • The limitation in a SharePoint view is 5 000 objects, a folder is an object. The number of files shown will be limited by the number of folders.

My lesson is to use the features of SharePoint wisely.

  • Ditch opening document libraries using File explorer. This can only be done now from Internet Explorer still no solution for Microsoft Edge!
  • Ditch using folders. add columns with metadata type or choice type columns to categorize the file. Think of SharePoint as a ”web-based Excel” with rows and columns.
  • Use SharePoint views to filter what is shown in the library.
  • Use SharePoint search to find files, with the increased features from Microsoft you will be able to see more using Delve in Office 365.
  • Use versioning in SharePoint for files in a library. Note: The standard number of versions in a SharePoint library in Office 365 is set to 500!! Why Microsoft?
  • Ditch sending files attached to emails, send the link to the file in SharePoint instead.
  • Use site columns and content types instead of creating SharePoint columns for each document library.

The biggest challenge when using any Enterprise Content Management system for document collaboration is the change of behavior of the user. The challenge is also to setup a standard for the company how to name files and what values to add as choices in the columns. This is a task that is often neglected in a SharePoint project, the most important investment in a SharePoint or any other IT-related project is training of the end users.

I will next week present my views on end user training, it is not a cost for the company it is an investment!

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