Stay Organized with 6 File Storage Best Practices
Many organizations use file storage to share and manage unstructured data. It’s a good option for users who regularly collaborate using files such as text documents, PDFs, and spreadsheets. It is also one of the most used types of storage because it is user-friendly.
However, users who do not organize or categorize files can waste time searching for certain items, use unnecessary file storage resources, and potentially lose file data. Administrators can also find it difficult to manage file storage without a plan for users to follow, which can lead to problems when performing routing tasks such as backup schedule for file systems.
The following six file storage best practices ensure that files are where they need to be and easy to locate. This will help prevent data loss, make it easier to locate files for business or legal purposes, and promote better file storage utilization and consistency among users.
1. Implement consistent naming conventions
Organizations with a defined organization-wide naming convention for file stores can locate data much faster than those without a system. Naming conventions should be encouraged and team members encouraged to follow them so that multiple users can find and access files through search.
Naming conventions can also encourage users to include other information to improve file search visibility. For example, some organizations may opt for a structure such as “01_01_2022_ProjectName” to indicate the month, day, year, and project or file name in a single label.
Thanks to a consistent naming structure, organizations using a shared file system to collaborate on files can easily locate them when they are needed. Users who store files on their own device or local storage can also benefit from a consistent naming structure.
2. Use retention policies
Retention policies automatically delete data after a certain date, or if no one has accessed the data for a specified period. Organizations commonly use retention policies if they are required to regularly delete data due to regulatory, privacy and security requirements such as HIPAA and GDPR.
Retention policies are useful for a regulatory file deletion and retention strategy, but organizations can also use them to prevent wasted storage space. Administrators can advise users to create folders with retention policies so that they can store certain files there. Just make sure the files are really no longer needed before using retention policies this way.
For example, if a team is unsure if they will need a file or group of files soon (and there are no compliance, business, or legal constraints on data deletion or retention) , it must dedicate a folder to the files and define a retention policy. If the files are regularly deleted, this should prevent the storage from becoming too cluttered.
3. Avoid saving unnecessary files
Organizations and users need to keep a lot of data, including files like tax documents or customer data, but they don’t have to save things like old project files and duplicate files not including backup versions.
Try to save everything “just in case” can lead to unnecessary use of storage resources and increase storage costs. Admins should also advise users to keep only data that their teams need, or may need, for active projects, past or future.
4. Develop a strategy for grouping files and folder structures
Many folder structures are based on what users can easily browse for their day-to-day tasks. Choose a folder structure based on typical organization or team workflows to encourage users to store files and organize folder hierarchies the same way.
Administrators should document the shared folder structure and share it with employees and stakeholders so that everyone using the file system stores files under the same rules. Organizations that work primarily with customers can organize cases by customer name, for example, or by date if their workflows are tied to deadlines.
If necessary, develop separate file hierarchies for different teams. For example, the finance department might structure their folder hierarchies by dates, while the sales team might structure theirs by customer names.
Whichever strategy the organization chooses, document the structure to follow.
5. Metadata makes searching easier
Many file-based storage systems have metadata functionality. Finding files that contain text is easy, but data that doesn’t contain text can be harder to find.
To alleviate this problem, users can add metadata to files such as PNG, JPEG and MP4 for easier searching. Metadata allows users to add keywords or descriptions and informs users when files were created. Encourage users to add tags or keywords in the metadata of their non-text files to make them easier to find.
6. Be Aware of Version History
Collaborating with files often means overwriting or modifying documents, but it’s important to keep version history in mind.
Sending the wrong version of a file to a colleague for internal use may not be problematic, but not storing or retaining a final version of a document may become a bigger problem if it is a deliverable. end customer or a document required for legal reasonsfor example.