The weight of 1,000 files: an enterprise file sync and share allegory

There is always a satisfaction I get when sliding into the seat of a clean car, coming to work to an organized office and finally returning to a tidy home. And while I don’t always find myself on the better side of organized, I appreciate organization. I get a great sense of satisfaction on those rare occasions when, just for a moment, life is absent of clutter and distraction.

While this is generally a universal truth for most people, we often find ourselves ignoring it and living with the dissatisfaction of clutter in one area of our lives: our digital workspaces. In July of this year, I will have been at Hyland for 20 years, and it is very evident from the state of my two computer screens. Every inch of real estate capable of displaying a file, is displaying a file.

Littering my digital workspace are files with names as exotic as win_free_mlp.txt and uuag524.docx. The fact that I have two monitors only serves to increase the amount of real estate I can dedicate to excel spreadsheets called myguys_2016.xlsx and doit.pptx. Let’s not forget the space available on my laptop screen. That is perfectly good space for txlog20161012.pdf.

It is difficult for us to quantify the weight that thousands of files place on our lives. But that weight is real, and typically, we only see its negative side effects. These side effects read like the side of a prescription label: may cause irritability, unnecessary stress, indecisiveness, headaches, and in rare cases, bad decisions.

It wasn’t until I sat down at my desk one morning that I realized the solution to my digital clutter. It was installed on both of my work computers. And no, it’s not called the Recycle Bin. 😉 It’s called ShareBase.

I was ashamed and embarrassed by my epiphany.

Eating your own dog food

Why was I embarrassed? Well first of all, I am a heavy user of the enterprise file sync and share product. And, as one of its creators, I am genetically predisposed to its usefulness. I use the cloud-based secure file sharing solution’s mobile iOS app when I’m on the go. I use the web interface to edit and read content people share with me when I’m sitting down in my office or at my laptop. I even use the desktop feature to synchronize my personal library, so I have all of my documents available to me on any device anywhere.

Sometimes, however, the simplest solution stares us in the face and yet we cannot see it. Suddenly, it dawned on me that I should move the thousands of files in my cluttered workspace into my ShareBase folder and synchronize it to the Hyland Cloud.

I was already synchronizing other content on my computers, but somehow the items on my desktop were “special.” And indeed they are special. It’s like that junk drawer at home full of useful items that you only use every so often. You want to get rid of them but you know there will be that critical moment when you need them.

In this analogy, ShareBase is that beautiful junk drawer, full of valuable items you need, but that you may not want to leave sitting out on your countertop for your Great Dane to eat.

Securely sharing work

Now that my items are in ShareBase, my work computer and my laptop are synchronized with the content of all my computers’ workspaces. I can also now access these items from my iPhone and easily share them with business partners. Can your junk drawer grant you instant access to that almost-empty tube of super glue you desperately need to glue the bottom of your shoe back on while running a 5k or marathon?

Better yet, can you go to your junk drawer and ask it to instantly expose all rubber bands, or immediately find all half-used AAA batteries? Your friend from California calls you and asks if she can borrow your compact label maker that’s missing the letter “A.” Can you share it with her instantly?

So did simply moving all of my desktop items into ShareBase suddenly make me a more organized person? Probably not. Did it give me access to all of my content from any device anywhere in the world at any time? Yes. Did it give me a way to easily find that content? Absolutely. Did if make me more efficient at my job? Most certainly.

But most importantly, it gave me the satisfaction of sitting down at my computer, ready to start the day, clutter free, absent the weight of one thousand files.

Sam Babic

Sam Babic

Sam Babic is SVP, chief technology officer of Hyland. In July 1997, he joined the company as a software engineer. Over the last 22 years, he has grown along with... read more about: Sam Babic