How to successfully ditch the old fileshares for good

Migrations may take a little forethought, but there's no need to be overwhelmed

You don’t really still have a file share do you?

Just kidding, almost every company is still working with, and plan to continue with at least some assets living on a file share. The P Drive for example, or whatever you call it in your organisation can be a mindfield of information. Files of all kinds dating back to the day that either the company started or you got your first server.

Let’s assume you are reading this because you already know all the issues with file shares. Hard to manage permissions. Horrible and confusing self managed structure. Very little auditing and control. Not to mention you have to connect to the office network somehow to be able to access it when you are working remotely or on the road trying to get a connection from your table or phone. What a nightmare.

But there is a straightforward way to successfully ditch the old file shares for good with well planned file share migrations.

First things first

Lets talk about what you can leave behind, we’ll call this archiving. Ask yourself (and your team):

  • When was the last time someone viewed or modified this?

  • Is it still of value to the organisation?

  • Is it still relevant?

Another common (and frustrating) quandary is data that no one knows what it is or who owns it. How you do decide what this is you ask? Easy, make the file share read only! Not yet, we need to do a few things first:

  1. Draw a line in the sand. Decide on a date from which point, all data will be migrated. For example, a good starting point would be to say everything that has been opened in the last 2 years will be migrated.

  2. Focus on the big wins. Your may have files that need to be managed individually, not as part of a bulk migration. Content types like large Photoshop files, CAD files, or videos need more planning, so leave them out for now.

  3. Where is it going to go? Since there are more cloud based file storage systems than we could ever write about, we will cover the mains one for now; Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, SharePoint Online / Teams, OneDrive.


There's no point in content if your people can't find it easily

A big challenge with the fileshare is the unstructured nature of all the different content types. Your current content structure may have some top level folders like HR, Finance, Engineering, Marketing etc. But under that it might look like the Wild West, particularly in the document metadata. Anyone with access can create a folder, and a sub-folder and another sub-folder called Jim. What is Jim? Is that a project? A product? I thought all personal stuff lived in My Documents, why is there a folder here, and…. WHO IS JIM?

Google Drive, Dropbox and Box make it easy to present content, but still don’t discourage these problems. SharePoint and Teams allow more structure and classification of content, giving meaningful context on why is this content is important.

Microsoft SharePoint and Teams allow you to group common content together, classify it, and delegate ownership to the appropriate business area. There’s no need to rely on IT to make permission or structure changes. You can tag all finance content with information so people know what it is beyond the file name. It could be tagged with a file ‘name’, ‘owner’, ‘department’, ‘annual report’ and ‘2020’. This makes searching and filtering simple, and you’ll only gain access to data you’re entitled to.

What next?

That’s it! You now have moved the last two years of file share content online, people can access it from any device in any location as long as they have internet access.

No, really! No more connecting to the office network, trawling through years of data to find the file you need. Now you are ready to make the old file share read only, in case someone does need something older than two years. They can then save the file to the preferred location. After a year or so, and once you have catered for any larger files we excluded from the bulk migration, you will be confident that whatever is left is no longer needed.

Happy file sharing. You can contact us to help you plan your next move, obligation free.