I noticed something interesting recently. Or rather I used to see this all the time when working with students and people around the office, but I never really understood what was going on. Now it finally clicked. Many users are confused about how the file system works, and bypass it completely in their day to day work.
Let me give you and example which I witnessed in person:
- User A gets an email from User B with a word attachment saying “please review this document”
- User A double-clicks on the document to open it with word and starts making changes
- When done, User A goes to File->Send To
- This opens Outlook window, and User A sends the revised document to User B
- If User C asks User A for the copy of the reviewed document sent to User B, User A simply goes to Sent Emails folder in Outlook and pulls it out from there.
This is fundamentally different from the way I work with documents. First thing I do when I get an attachment is to save it in my system under an appropriate folder structure. It might be redundant, but hey – redundancy is not always bad. Now take the same scenario, but instead of the file arriving via Email, imagine it being downloaded from an online portal. You can see where this type of behavior becomes a bit iffy and error prone.
And now the kicker – send User A bunch of files, and request that they send them back in a zip file. They end up very confused, but most of them learn to use My Documents as a temporary staging area. They save their files there, zip them, send the zip and then *gasp* delete everything. When I asked whey they deleted the stuff they answered that it was already in their email.
Very frightening thing is that this warped world view is quite common. For some inexplicable reason, many users seem to have confused the file system which is supposed to be used for permanent storage and cataloging of files, with their outlook PST file which has a maximum functional capacity of 1-2 GB after which parsing it becomes to slow for Outlook to remain responsive – and thus be used only for temporary storage.
Oh, and did I mention that users A, B and C all have access to set of network shares on a local server in the office, and that our POP3 server is hosted offsite? This means that every time a file is sent it travels across the internet to the server, and then back into office again.
And yet, most users here prefer to email very large files to each other instead of dropping them on the file share for everyone to use. We already trained them to store finished products on the shares so that they are accessible to everyone and included in nightly backups. But the day to day work documents are shipped from one cubicle to another via email, bypassing file systems and network shares whenever humanly possible. And whenever I try to improve the process by dropping files on the shares and trying to convince people to grab them from there, I usually get asked to “just email them”.
Have you noticed something similar? Or did I just happen to witness some kind of localized luser epidemic?
[tags]file system, email, emails, files, file management, work, working[/tags]