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Cleanliness is Godliness

Imagine an office setting where employees randomly file their papers into unlabeled cabinet drawers. The utility of this information would be terribly diminished. Obviously, an office manager would never allow this to happen...

Sep 09, 2003

Cleanliness is Godliness

Cleanliness is Godliness
Order vs. Chaos
Garbage In! Garbage Out!

By Greg Richburg, MCSE
Netricks, Inc.

Imagine an office setting where employees randomly file their papers into unlabeled cabinet drawers. The utility of this information would be terribly diminished. Obviously, an office manager would never allow this to happen. So why then do so many managers allow such disorder when it comes to their data files?

The brilliant use of an organized computer and network system offers companies of all sizes the opportunity to maximize employee efficiency and increase their productivity. The excessive waste from search-and-find fundamentals and loss-and-recovery time can be minimized with a well-planned file storage design. With proper training, the fundamental movement of information throughout the infrastructure can be a speedy process and save an organization loads of money.

I deal with many different clerical staff on a daily basis. I have witnessed organizations that provide a solid structure for their paper files, but fail to apply the same principles to their data files. Whether I am servicing a medical office, a law firm, a real estate company, or simply a mom-and-pop shop, frequent file loss or misplacement occurs due to a severe lack of understanding about file organization.

It is not uncommon that an employee can easily learn and understand the office file cabinet system, but when it comes to the network file organization, remain confused. This lack of understanding often comes from a precarious view about the way computers and networks work. (Actually, when I walk into organizations and see the way data files are organized, I am not at all surprised that they are confused.)

New recruits are trained to learn the paper system, yet it is assumed that because the rookie knows how to operate a computer, he or she must naturally understand where and how files are to be stored on the network. Frequently, as reality has it, upper management doesn’t entirely understand where all their files are stored either. Both must be properly trained or the end result is network discord.

I have set up the principles of data organization and structure for several companies, ranging from small peer to peer groups, to large corporations using routed networks with up to a thousand computers. The concepts are simple; the fundamentals are easy. Order begins with an understanding of both the computer and the file structure to be followed.

To better understand the computer itself, think of the computer in this analogous way: your hard drive is your file cabinet, your RAM memory is your desktop space, and your CPU speed is how fast you can move files from your file cabinet to your desktop and back. The more RAM you have, the bigger desktop you have and the more files you can have open simultaneously. Other forms of memory like virtual memory and swap files expand your desktop like slide-out tables, and are used only when necessary.

As well, you must begin your data structure with a mandatory rule that will be uniformly followed. Since a file structure can follow several different forms, it is important that a company decide on one form and always follow it. Some examples of a file structure include:

-department/file type/concept, or
-file type/concept/department, or
-concept/department/file type;

Of course which one your company chooses all depends on your company's requirements.

The structure of the network, user access privileges, and group access rights are all imperative to keeping a network well organized. Company management and the network administrator must work together to provide an environment for the user that is easy to follow and planned well enough for longevity. The network administrator's job is to keep it simple and cohesive enough for the users that errors and confusion are kept to a minimum. With order and cohesion, the opportunity for an efficiently run environment is laid out and the brave new world of technical supremacy offers a catapult for every organization to use.

Greg Richburg a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, Inc. a network consulting, web design and hosting company located in Fresno. Visit Netricks at www.netricks.com.

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