How to manage shared drive, why they’re bad for your organisation & alternatives

how to manage shared drives
how to manage shared drives

Shared drives are spaces on the cloud or on premised of your organisation shared hard drive.

Shared drives help teams easily store, search and access their files. But the advantages end there. You can face problems like losing files due to accidental deletion, inadequate security, document redundancy and confusion during collaboration.

For many companies, Shared document space is necessary.

The biggest problem with shared drives is that your shared drive size also increases with more people using it as your business grows, creating numerous issues.

Content duplication, improper naming conventions, misfiling of documents all make a shared drive un-usable. 

With the growth in the size of the shared drives, it becomes increasingly impossible to create value for the organisation. Instead, it takes a lot of time for the knowledge workers to find the correct information and work on it.

Inconsistencies like the ones mentioned above can create a lot of frustration and chaos for your employees.

There are two ways to mitigate this problem.

  1. Create governance policies to keep the shared drive usable.
  2. Migrate to a document management system
how to manage shared drives

Do you want to move out of shared drives?

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Create governance policies to keep the shared drive usable.

Creating good governance policies will help managed the content in your shared drive more accessible and usable.

Create a good information framework

Information governance starts with creating the proper folder structure. Your shared drive should have a folder structure that mimics the organisational department structure.

Store documents as per document types and create subfolders to handle these document types. These document types will ensure storing of documents with the context of the function of each department. 

For example, the sales department folder should ideally have a folder for Proposals, Work Orders, Customers, Targets, etc

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Create and publish strict guidelines for your shared drive

Creating a shared drive policy and procedures ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to 

  • Where should a particular document be saved
  • Naming conventions of the documents
  • Who can access these documents
  • How to manage multiple versions of the same document
  • How long should the record be retained?

Put someone in charge of the whole process.

Putting a  person accountable for the entire operation ensures users follow the policies and procedures created. 

An accountable administrator also provides your users with a go-to person when they have any concerns or questions. 

With an accountable administrator of your shared drive, they can keep an eye on adherence to folder hierarchies and other document policies.

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Define & apply user permissions

Once you have the central administration and planning out of the way, you need to ensure who can access which documents. Create a suitable permission matrix defining which users have access to which folders.

Set up the shared drive

Once you have done all the above, now start creating your folder structure on your Shared drive. If you are migrating from an old system, make sure you give appropriate names to the folders to avoid confusion for the employees.

For example, you can name the new folders prefixed with NEW to help employees distinguish between the old and the new folders.

If not already there, create user logins, set up passwords, and access permissions to each folder per the permission matrix created earlier.

Provide proper training to employees

Onboarding employees through training sessions in small groups (preferably department wise) will help them understand the value of a shared drive.

This training session should include the purpose of the drive, how the policies and procedures help govern the shared drive and how following the document policies will help them save time and frustration.

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Set up a helpdesk for employees queries

Set up a helpdesk for employees to ask their questions. Standard emails are okay, depending on the number of users. If you have too many users, it’s advisable to have a proper helpdesk in place to address their queries.

The last thing you want to happen is employees getting confused and getting back to the old ways of storing and using documents.

Migrate your shared drive to a document management system


A shared drive works as long as the number of documents and its collaborators are less. As the number increases, the manual work involved in maintaining the shared folder increases. 

You will find it challenging to find administrators interested in working on such monotonous tasks of keeping the shared drive on track. 

When things get cumbersome with shared drives, you should move to an electronic document management system

Investing in a document management system will derive its ROI by automating most manual processes that maintain a shared drive.

Microsoft 365 SharePoint based document management system is one of the best platforms to move next, considering there will be much fewer infrastructure expenses considering most companies already have office 365 licenses.

Do you want to move out of shared drives?

We can help you implement an electronic document management system for your organisation

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