General discussion

  • Creator
  • #2196027

    Shared Drive Needs Cleanup


    by john.m1 ·

    SBS 2003 Lan to 50 client machines including 10 laptops, 35 permanent staff 25 part time or consultant (occasional users).

    We have a shared Drive known as “Group”.
    Over 3 or 4 years it has become a dumping ground, folders created within folders, documents just saved to the root, duplication leading to wrong versions used etc etc.

    I take some accountability for this situation but did inherit a pile of pooh in the first place.

    My plan is to create folders (Drives) which have logical names that relate to areas of the business.

    Next, to create matching security-group names for permissions etc. So “Everyone” would have Read access to Health and Safety but only members of Finance group would access the Finance folder, and of course i could map these drives to user logins so they only see folders that they have permission to access?

    BUT, i could do with some comments around moving the data, i can advise people to note where their documents “used to live” and that shortcuts on their desktop will no longer work.

    (one reason for undertaking this task is to remove old-duplicated-unwanted stuff from the server) so i plan to make a full backup of the current shared drive to a USB Maxtor drive (only about 40 gigs worth)

    My concerns are documenting where the data now lives / putting back relevant data and reuniting people with it in its new home.

    I have considered the “wait for the scream approach” and then ask, what was it / where was it? and move it from the backup to the appropriate folder.

    Help Advice or Comments Please, John Mahoney.

All Comments

  • Author
    • #3167092


      by cmiller5400 ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Well, my condolences for being handed a stinking pile of you know what 😉 I would make a full backup of all the data, then send out an e-mail to all users to clean up thier crap. You could create folders in the group area for each dept and ask the users to move only their stuff into the appropriate folders. That way they are semi involved in the process. Then on the date you gave them for the cutoff, I would move the data to the appropriate places that was relocated to the folders you created on the group share. Everthing else gets dumped to another area that only admins have access to and then as they request files, you can then move them appropriately.

      This task is not going to be easy and many people are going to kick and scream either way you try to do it.

      • #3167004

        I agree

        by curlergirl ·

        In reply to Wow!!!

        I think CM5400 has the right idea – let the users be part of the process, but set a deadline. Let them know that on such-and-such a date, anything that has not been moved into your designated subfolders (i.e., the ones that will be moved to your new shared folders) will no longer be available to them. If you’re going to use mapped drive letters, make sure they know which is which (i.e., “F” will be the Finance Dept. files, “H” will be Human Resources, etc.), and who will have access to each area. Let them know that a full backup will be available if they forget something, but that they will not be able to access it directly, only you and/or other admin personnel. No doubt people will still scream, but at least you are doing all you can to make the process only as painful as it really has to be.

        Good luck!

        • #3210102

          Keep the drive letter consistant

          by droll ·

          In reply to I agree

          I also agree, but keep the mapped drive the same for all users. That way you avoid cofusion among the users, and don’t have to worry about running out of (appropriate) letters. When someone refers to the “F” drive, everyone knows it is the shared network drive. Control access at the folder level.

        • #3210647


          by t.a.wiser ·

          In reply to Keep the drive letter consistant

          The network I inherited had a U drive that contained a folder for every user. It was a bit clunky, so I gave everyone a P drive (Personal) that mapped to U:\Username. This was set as the default save location in Office, etc. Later on, each dept was given a shared location on the network which was a single share with a folder (\\Server\Depts) for each dept in it. This was mapped to M (eg. \\Server\Depts\Accounts). This worked for a while but is now starting to cause confusion, especially when people change depts and wondered where their file(s) that they’d stored on M had gone.

          I’ve started using Distributed File System in Server 2003 to provide a single namespace for the shared areas on our network. It’s the U: drive but instead of providing all the user folders, it hold a few DFS links that point to \\Server\Depts, \\Server\Home, etc. Nice and simple and very logical.

          My advice is not to use a drive letter for department files like I did with our M drive. It just causes confusion.

          Plus, any shared areas on our network are emptied on the first Sunday of each month. People generally scream about this, but as long as they’re told on a regular basis then the onus is on them.

        • #3210616

          Don’t forget proper protocol

          by ckl_13 ·

          In reply to I agree

          The crap that you inherited and that is still being heaped is coming from all other departments. Before I put out a company wide announcement, I would first formulate the proper plan of attach, (which by the way you seem to be effectively doing) then I would notify the GM or OPS Boss that you need to bring this up to your respective counterparts. Lay out the plan to your Operations manager as to all of the affected departments so that implementation goes as best as possible. It’s kinda like announcing that the road is going to be repaved next week so you can plan for the time and inconvenience. Many of the other managers will undoubtedly have people away on assignment etc. These inputs will assist you in formulating a practical time frame for your improvement. It has been my experience that managers who work together make for a much smoother and comfortable work environment. You will also find less animosity and misunderstanding for future projects. Good Luck to you

      • #3210179

        That’s Wha We Did

        by rasilon ·

        In reply to Wow!!!

        That’s pretty much what we did. We talked to each of the groups and spent a good deal of time working on educating them. We spent most of it trying to identify the critical (work stops without these) files.

        The only thing I would add would be to document the changes made and be sure you can support the number of help desk calls you will be getting in the near term.

        Also, if practical, try to provide some training sessions for each group to help them understand what they need to do and how to manage files and folders. Otherwise all you will accomplish is to end up with *several* masses of unorganized data instead of one…..

        Hank Arnold

      • #3210177

        spot-on, CM5400 — been there, done that.

        by plusaf ·

        In reply to Wow!!!

        i had a similar problem in the technologically archaic world of about 1985. a group of organizations had use of a networked share drive and it was a mess.

        unfortunately, my style was more dictatorial, and i didn’t involve the “customers” much in the creation process. … mainly because it would have been matrix-management and everyone can say yes, but one “no” stops the process, too.

        i’d suggest creating folders labeled organization by organization, in whatever way makes sense for them. [you put the first shovel into the dirt and start the design].

        i created subfolders based on products or product lines of the organizations, but this might not make sense for your situation.

        the idea of first backing the whole thing up to offline storage is great, and then put two copies on the share: the “online backup” or “originals” folder, and the “new world” folder structure you set up.

        then set the deadline for everyone to MOVE their files and folders to the new structure.

        as CM puts it so well, after the deadline, kill all the permissions to to old folder and only give access to anyone who screams, but with the proviso that the only thing they can do is MOVE their file to the new structure before they can access it [or let the admin folks do the moving, which might be even better! 🙂 ]

        good luck…. after i did this, about 1.5 years later, there were still what looked like “fossil” files left on the old structure. some of the people had moved to new positions. so, i deleted their files. just as luck would have it, my backup process had, unknown to me, failed at the same time. one gal called, looking for her files. it seems she’d kept her links to the old system, even though she’d moved to another site in another city and a different organization entirely!

        when she discovered that her files were gone, she tried to run up my org chart, thinking that if she yelled at the right level of management, they could retrieve her files. yep, that’s the kind of manager she was, too. she seemed to have trouble with the concept, “your files have not been backed up and they have been deleted, and therefore they’re NOT retrievable under any currently-known laws of time/space and physics.”

        [and why didn’t you back up your file on your own organization’s resources, you moron…]

        you can see why i wasn’t too good at that, and was happy to move the backup services to the Site people to handle. end of problem… sort of an early version of “outsourcing,” eh?

      • #3210171

        This will be a long job

        by jevans4949 ·

        In reply to Wow!!!

        You face many problems.

        First, the people who know whether those files are important are probably too busy to deal with what they will see as YOUR problem.

        Second, current post-holders may not realise that a particular file is in fact the only remaining copy of the design document for their mission-critical system. Or that the one they decided to keep was an early draft.

        Third, you will likely have a spate of requests around company year-end and tax year-end for stuff which people didn’t realise they needed.

        Then there is the file that everybody uses as a reference but nobody “owns”. Two possibilities here: (a) everybody makes a copy, filling up your new folders, (b) nobody makes a copy because it’s not their problem.

      • #3210161

        Agreed as well

        by brudab ·

        In reply to Wow!!!

        Making full use of the “wait and scream” approach made my job hell a while back. Users could only tell me that “the file was in that spot on the desktop” and they don’t know if it was just a shortcut, where it was stored etc.

        Imagine looking for something you’re not even sure that’s missing.

      • #3210082

        Try this

        by djmort ·

        In reply to Wow!!!

        Transfer all the files to a public “read only” directory.This would permit people to read their old files but would require them to save any changes to their personal directory. After a period of time you could then delete the public directory.

    • #3210178

      Temp drive

      by hkphooey ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      I went through this before, and I found that one of the reasons the drive got so cluttered in the first place was that people were passing files backwards and forwards on the shared drive, and forgetting to delete them.

      So … I gave them a place to do this. I set up a single folder called “Transfer” which they could do whatever they liked on. This folder was not backed up of course, and it was wiped clean with automated delete every Sunday. Everyone happy. Less crap.

      • #3210100

        Temp drive plus…

        by ktrendel ·

        In reply to Temp drive

        I also had to move several hundred files/folders to a new volume on the server. Most of the employees had shortcuts on their desktops to files and applications. Since we had already established a temporary “common” area to share docs plus they were used to me periodically reminding them I would be deleting all files in that “common” area, that portion of the move was fairly simple. While preparing for the major move, I put together a very simple instruction sheet showing them how to “find” the target of a file for any shortcut that quit working. I used a software package like Zenworks or SMS to re-address where the application shortcuts were pointing. One weekend (after a server backup and reminder to the employees), I moved all of the files and folders. I had very few callers screaming and at the same time was able to teach some of the old dogs some new tricks.

        I hope this helps.

    • #3210160

      Did this for a 1TB share in an Bank.

      by dirk.valcke ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Hi John,

      I did a similar project once on a 1TB File Server for 350 users in a Bank.

      These are my experiances:

      1. I created a new File Server.
      2. Using DFS (MS product) I created a virtual organisation of the data, pointing to one or more file and other (data processing) servers. This resulted in a unified view of the shares + allows for data mobility without changing the look and feel of the users (thanks to DFS).
      3. I created on the new server the directories then I created the logical structure (DFS), Business Lines, Business Units + individual unit level.
      4. For security on the new server, everyone LIST, all the rest as negociated with Human Resources + security.
      5. Inform the users about the change. Explain what the organisation of the information is (Business Line …) + security that’s put in + training for some key people in the teams.
      6. Put the old server on Read-Only for EVERYBODY
      7. Users must move their own files or departmental files.
      8. You can leave the old server for about 6 months. Then, hide it + only accessible by IT Admins to help “uncooperative users”, with a 1 week waiting pentaly.

      70% was done fairly fast, by the users, last 10% over time, from tape, and allot of old junk!!

      Hope this can help,


      • #3210155

        Did this for 400 users

        by ninianbowman ·

        In reply to Did this for a 1TB share in an Bank.

        We did a similar project for 400 users on a multi-site citrix network. Users worked for depots which were grouped in areas.

        My advice is to plan for future company changes by keeping the structure as flat as possible, and allow users access to their folders by permissions. We initially set up a hierarchical file structure with the depots under their areas, but after 2 company restructures we had to bite the bullet and rebuild our file structure. 2 more company restructures later and we have had no problems with the flat structure.

      • #3210106

        Help to get everyone onboard…

        by brian.kronberg ·

        In reply to Did this for a 1TB share in an Bank.

        I have a lot of experience with SBS and I know that if you have 50 users hitting the same RAID array as your Exchange server you are most likely having disk bottleneck problems. I would look into moving to a Windows Storage Server NAS following the directions above (nice job by the way) and additionally move printing to the NAS. By removing file and print server activity your Exchange and SharePoint will be greatly accellerated.

        A few notes on the above:

        1. Before you start, make a (weekly) full backup of the volume. From there, only perform incremental backups daily. This way at the end of the week you can see what files have not been changed (the archive bit will not be set).
        2. Beware setting read-only in step six to Everyone, use Authenticated Users instead. Also, you need to search for what folders have rights inheritance changed and additional rights enabled.
        3. For each LOB, department, or whatever your company uses, assemble a committee to get this done. Each LOB will report on their status weekly based off your reports. Purchase Jam Software’s TreeSize Pro (freeware and demo available) to report on all the files in the volume. The software also makes it easy to show the owner of the files in question. Scans can be saved and compared within the software to show what has changed.
        4. In the new structure, ensure that users cannot make top level folders. This will force everyone to go through you to make new TLFs. This is touched on in step 4 above. By giving users list access only they can see the file, but cannot read it.
        5. Although this will require more design work and a change in how users access the data, try to identify the “read-only” type data and move that into SharePoint document libraries using the SharePoint bulk loader. This will accellerate searches and make the information easily availble for remote users.

    • #3210018

      Don’t forget file and folder permissions.

      by jkn1ck ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Be careful you don’t delete file and folder permissions. You will raise a hornet?s nest. Also keep the drive letter and then set up directories by department names. Advice the department heads as to what you are doing and ask that they notify their subordinates. They should be able to find their folders and files and put them in their directories. Give them permission only to their own department directory and then go for it.

    • #3210579

      index, or kicking and screaming.

      by therealbeadweaver2002 ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      i would suggest moving al the files according to your plan, telling everyone in advance, and/or having THEM move them, then setting up an index of former/presnet locations. This will take a bit of data entry in a spreadsheet, but will save a lot of kicking. As to the screaming, well, you DID warn them.

    • #3210570


      by ddjohn ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Good intentions, but potentially deadly consequences.

      First…we all love our IT Dept.
      Second…IT Dept does not own the data.
      Third…we all love our IT Dept.

      John, start by discussing your desire to structure the shared server with those who actually own the data, the department heads. If you start out to change their lifestyle, they could gang up on you and change your employment. (Just kidding, but close enough to the real world.)

      Get them to lay out the rules on who gets access to what, and how their data will be organized. Then set up all the parameters, protocols, and folder permissions. Make them review and sign off the final plan.

      Make a full backup of the old server and seal it in lead and store it in a safe deposit box. Then schedule a single day for them to relocate their data. You can send them a warning about the leftovers getting deleted, but hang on to the backup copy for the rest of your life.

      The potential pitfall is the records retention regulations. Depending on your company’s industry they have various state and federal regulations to comply with and failure to retain the documents could cost billions.

      Users will also have a problem determining which documents are duplicate and which are essential. You’ll need to establish a protocol for determining what is a true duplicate. SHA1 could be useful in identifying the duplicates, but be aware of the potential for collisions.

      Sit back, sip a brew, let the departments do the grunt work. You are IT not slave labor.

      Best of Luck,

    • #3210557

      And have a . . .

      by water slosher ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      voice message prepared for everyone that thought the document was on ‘their’ computer.

      You seem to be on the right track – but plan on a couple of months for reality to sink in and then another few weeks for people to actually move their stuff to the newly created drives – despite weekly warnings. What’s left goes to a drive that will be archived after 6 months – just in case one of CEO’s docs was on it.

    • #3211473

      Department Admins

      by blazer0411 ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Have you thought of leaving access to the different department admins? Have your users contact their department admin if they are missing/forgot to relocate files. Would be a load off you, and users that “decided” to not bother moving anything before the cutoff date, would be required to go to their dept. admin to retrieve the files. If they didn’t bother to move anything, their manager will find out shortly, trust me on this, admins are wonderful, till you don’t bother following something and creating more work for them.

    • #3212363

      Ignore this

      by dmarston ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Never mind.. 🙂

    • #3279163

      Great Technique for TB, try this for small shops.

      by trambo ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      Great write-up above for a tried solution for organizing a large quantities of files.

      How about this for simple and elegant:

      Make new directories or cubby holes for the files as best you can come up with. Have Dept. Managers on-board and give them rights to create additional directories per a convention that is agreed upon by all. Then make all files read/only and take away the appropriate permissions so that to make a change users must save the file to a new directory (with the user’s already oriented to this scheme.)
      You can then start looking at the auditing you turned on to see which files (objects) were last accessed and when. Delete all files over a certain threshold.

      Simple and elegant. Always remember to make your users’ do the work! (^:

    • #2766059

      Migration of Data in Shared Drives

      by valerie.gierman ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      In our small consulting practice, we have found that the shared drives are a huge problem and that many government organizations in our market in Canada believe that implementing an EDRMS will eliminate the problem. One key factor that undermines the success of EDRMS implementations is the resistance to take on the complicated task of migrating files from messy shared drives into an EDRMS. Users have an immediate distaste an the expensive new system that does not take care of the active files they have been working on.

      So, the fact is that there really is no easy way to do this mapping without a specialized tool or methodology. If you have someone over information or records management, you should engage them in this exercise rather than taking an IT-centric view. It will come back to haunt you otherwise.

      We have built a tool to help clean up and migrate files and report on the migration path which is called Perrallel. We can also manage the retention and disposition rules for what is in the shared drives. The tool is used to extract the mess from shared drives and put it into a function-based taxonomy/classification structure that makes more sense to the users. We find that, if the clients get used to the new structure, they will file more efficiently and effectively. So, in other words, there are huge benefits to cleaning up the shared drives but no easy way without a tool or methodology.

    • #2875664

      maybe a tagging tool could help your shared-drive hell?

      by andreadintino ·

      In reply to Shared Drive Needs Cleanup

      I’ve found this old thread googling… if you’re looking to organize your shared-drive mess, you may want to have a look at our tagging applications, which allows now tag files socially:




Viewing 11 reply threads