We want to help our users by meeting their everyday needs. This blog post is for everyone that needs to keep files in order. We address three scenarios of complexity. Starting with the single person at one end and the collaborative team at the other end of complexity.
Different solutions for different needs
It comes without saying that you need to assess your needs before making a strategy for keeping your files in order an at hand. To make things easier, I will point out three levels of complexity that anyone needs to take into account when setting up a system for file synchronisation.
The online thumb drive
The least complex need is when a single person needs a system to make sure that his or her files are always at hand. Before the Internet, the only way to accomplish this was to keep the files on disc like the floppy disc or an usb thumb drive. And sometimes the thumb drive is still a good idea to keep the files at hand.
But viruses can infect thumb drives and we can lose them. Today, there are also an increasing number of computers that come without a standard usb a port.
The one man show can easily solve the dilemma by uploading the files to a folder on a cloud storage service like OperationTulip.com. Once uploaded, the user will have access to his or her library of files at hand from several devices such as computers, tablets and smart phones.
The one person online working file directory
The next step up the complexity ladder is a person who works on the files from multiple devices. Editing the documents adds a layer of complexity as the person now also needs a system for version control.
But what is version control? Version control is the strategy for making sure that the person always works with the latest version of the document. No matter if it is a text file, a photograph or a spreadsheet, it is important to make sure that you always work on the latest version. That means that the solution has to take multiple devices and multiple versions into account.
The solution is to use a cloud storage account, like OperationTulip.com as a working directory. That means that the file never leaves the cloud account. The strategy is to always open the file from the cloud storage account and to always save it to the cloud storage account. If this strategy is implemented without an exception, you are always working on the latest version. And you can also be sure where to find that document or file.
The online team working file directory
To complicate things more than in the case above, we can add more people to the mix. That means it is more than one person who is working on the document. The worst-case scenario is that two or more people work at the same time on different versions of the document, thus making a mess for everyone.
The strategy must now take into account that more than one person can work in the same document. That means a strategy for continuous version control and keeping files in sync.
But there are ways to meet that need. If you use a service like OperationTulip.com, you can work on the document from within the browser. That means that everyone that works on the document will see each other’s edits in real time. It’s quite handy to see that someone else is opening the document and to also be able to see what they are doing in real time.
The last step in the synchronisation strategy – automation
The best way to make sure the files are in sync is to automate the synchronisation process. What we think of is a scenario where more than one person needs to have the files at hand for reference (the least complex scenario). To do this, download the NextCloud synchronisation software and install it on the computer. IN THIS TUTORIAL I show you how to select what it synchronises and not.
I would recommend that every type of document that you or people on the team need access to but never or rarely edit should be synchronised between the cloud account and every computer in the team.
Files that one or more people work on should not be part of the synchronisation strategy. We should exclude them from the automated synchronisation to make sure that people don’t work on them offline thus sabotaging the strategy for version control. Documents that are worked on should be edited online if version control is important.
The power of a strategy
However you solve the problem of file dispersion and multiple versions of the same document it is important to make a strategy for dealing with the potential issues and to communicate the strategy to those concerned. No matter if the work collaborative work in school or in your company – whinging it without a strategy will end up in a mess of different versions of a document on different places (e.g. thumb drives, cloud storage or on the hard drives on multiple computers).
Don’t do that to yourself! Make a strategy and implement it. It’s no more complicated than that. Adapt the advice in this article to your needs and comment below and tell us about what worked for you.
The OperationTulip.com Team