A Cloud Expert Shares The Biggest Mistakes Users Make When it Comes to Data Storage


Matt Snider has worked as an IT Support Engineer at PTG for over two-and-a-half years. In that time, he has helped hundreds of office workers move their data to the cloud, improve their collaborative workflows, and keep their data safe.



 We had a conversation about an important issue facing just about every modern office today - data storage.

Matt, thanks for your time this morning! Let's jump right in...what are you seeing these days as one of the things workers are doing with their data that they should avoid?

The biggest one we see is people storing their work locally on their personal work computer. That's the only copy that they've got. The problem with that is that they are not backing it up - so if that computer is stolen or lost, the information that is stored on it goes with it.

Any other disadvantage to storing work locally, other than the obvious security risk?

Yes. They're also missing out on some advanced features like revision history or change logs, also, those files are not accessible unless they are sitting in front of that device. There's no "on the go" access.

 Right! And data mobility is something everyone is looking for nowadays. What about collaboration? Can we talk about that as it applies to data storage?

When someone is collaborating with a colleague, or sending documents back and forth via email, it creates multiple copies instead of that data being stored in some central place where everyone can access it. When there's multiple copies, there's no idea which copy is the real one, does the copy that I have contain all the edits of my peers? And that creates a lack of "real-time" collaboration. You can't open the file together and start working on it at the same time.

I see. So when there's no easy way to see revision history or data logs, collaboration becomes even more difficult.

Right. These are inefficiencies introduced into a workflow or process just because people aren't collaborating the right way.

What about backing up your data? What issues are you seeing there?

Some people think, "I'll back my data up to a USB drive," the problem with that is often they aren't truly backing up their data, but rather they're just moving it from one place to another. If it's still the only copy of the data, it's not a backup at all.

What's a good data practice that doesn't cost anything?

Just staying organized. A lot of times people use a data structure (or lack there of) that only makes sense to them. I'm guilty of this one. If you go to My Documents, I created a folder named "email pictures" what does that mean? So, if someone had to go through my documents, they would never know where to look.

And that goes back to your collaboration point. If you don't have an organized structure on how you name files, where they are stored...

- People are going to be saving the same file or data in all these different places. Again, we're not collaborating efficiently, we're not storing a document where everyone can find or edit it...staying organized is very important.

So where is the best place to store data?

The biggest mistake I see people make is not utilizing the cloud. There are a lot of features the cloud brings that solve these issues we've been discussing.

Can you give an example?

Sure, take OneDrive for Business. With five minutes of set-up you can have all your documents moved within OneDrive to the cloud, so that your data is both in the cloud and on your device at the same time. With "Files on Demand" when your computer storage is used up, it will remove the local copy, keeping the copy in the cloud and you're still seeing all of your files in your File Explorer - whether they are online or not.

So, it sounds like using a cloud solution (like OneDrive for Business) for data storage creates a much more seamless process...

Yeah, you can tell whether a file is in the cloud, or cached locally for you, you can share and collaborate in real time - rather than emailing an attachment to someone, you can send them a OneDrive link, they can open it, and both people can type at the same time, taking notes together and having just one copy to work from. It keeps track of the history of changes per editor. 

Now, some people already use Google Docs for that...

Yes, but because OneDrive for Business is integrated into Office 365 there are features and apps that you get with it that you would not get with Google Docs. It's really the best choice for an entire office.

What about preventing data loss?

OneDrive for Business just rolled out this feature where they'll maintain versions of the entire drive for 30 days. Say you get an issue where every file gets deleted or overwritten. You can actually go back to your last known state, roll it back 3 days, and all your files are restored as they were. So, there's more data security and data stability there.

That certainly provides some assurance! What advice would you give to someone who says, "How do I get started with a better data solution, what's the first step?"

If you're not using Office 365, at least get your data in the cloud and off your personal device. If you're already an Office 365 user, sign in to OneDrive for Business (it's already built into the newest releases of Windows 10) then, turn on "Files on Demand" (which should be on by default) and enable "Known Folder Move." OneDrive will actually ask you, "Would you like to protect your important folders?" Click "Yes," and it will start copying your user data (Documents, Desktop, Pictures, etc.) to the cloud. You don't have to configure it at all. Five minutes to set it up, and then you're rolling in the cloud.

Thank you, Matt, for the great advice. If anyone has any further questions about cloud migration and data storage, they can contact us. If you use PTG to assist with a data migration, you may even end up speaking with Matt directly!

If you have a question for Matt, leave it in the comments below and we'll get back to you with his answer! 


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