Files Everyone, every company, small or large has some kind of file server for storage of documents and other files. The file server are in many cases the heart of the operations. Some have several file servers and some have even more. Almost every file server looks the same; some kind of shared folder with subfolders (in absurdum). Most of these file servers uses file/directory permissions to have control over who are allowed to view or edit the files. Most often this is configured through groups, but far to often permissions are set on user accounts directly.

This way of having the files “organized” is so stone-age, you will only run into trouble and these are some of the common problems with using a traditional file server:

  • Overview of the permissions is hard
  • Restoring a deleted file requires you to pull out a backup tape
  • Finding a file is time consuming and most often impossible
  • …and so on

I will try to show you how you can solve most of these problems and move in to a whole new world and experience in document/file management.

First we start with how you can help your users find the files easier.

Information Workers spend about 20-30% of their time searching for documents or recreating missing information. Wow, that’s an awful amount of time. What if I could find my documents easier!

Improving the search possibilities for your file servers is by far the easiest and fastest way to improve your current file servers. By allowing your users to search for files, you will save them (and your company) time, you will make them happier and you will get one step closer to a more efficient document/file management system.

Microsoft Search Server 2008 Express, MSSX, is a great piece of software that will allow you to index you file servers in just a few hours, without any cost! All you need to do is to download it, install it and configure it to crawl your file servers.

MSSX is based on Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and is free of charge (but limited to one index server). It has a simple user interface and an incredible search engine (same as in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007). As soon as you have had it to crawl your files you can create a link from or frame it in your current Intranet or portal and show your co-workers how to use it. They will immediately be able to search for the files they need (with ranking and everything) and you will be the Hero of the day.

When I have suggested this solution to our clients the first question I have received is – we have tried it and it didn’t work for us since they could find all documents, including the ones they do not have permissions on. This is not true with Microsoft Search Server 2008. Companies who tried this most often used an application built on the Microsoft Index Server which did not have a security control in the search results – but MSS(X) has, so they will only see documents they are allowed to see.

Once you’re setup you should install filters for PDF files and others so all of your files gets crawled by content.

All this just takes a couple of hours and does not require and advanced skills and have a huge impact on your file management experience.

Search Server 2008 has, of course, numerous of optimization options for which you should consult your consultant. Trimming MSSX allows you to even more enhance the search results and gives you the opportunity to help your users find the correct information. But beware, trimming it the wrong way can severely impact the results in a negative way.

If you do this, you have a really good search application which uses your current file structure and your users does not have to change their behavior and you have not made any changes to your infrastructure. But that’s what I’m going to talk about next time – really trying to help you say goodbye to your file servers.

Technorati tags: MSSX, MSS, SharePoint, WSS