Too much of a good thing might describe your relationship with files (and file management). They’re necessary. You love them. Your line of business depends on them to keep running. And they drive you crazy.

Like most businesses, your filer storage was likely a big investment and by now it might already be choked with all kinds of files from all kinds of applications that are critical to your business success. Some files that just had to go somewhere, so they ended up on your expensive tier-1 filer. The worse part of it is that the more files you add and the deeper the file structure gets, the longer your response times grows.

If this sounds like you, then it is likely that backup, too, takes forever. Maybe your backup job can’t even complete in the available window any more. People are complaining. They need their files.  But maybe not all their files.

Oh, by the way, you also have 50% more data and your IT budget went up *maybe* 3%.

3 Tips for Better File Management

So, you are probably wondering, how do I remain sane in this unruly world of file management? Have no fear, I have 3 tips to keep you sane:

Method #1: Identify your data strategy.

To take maximum advantage of your file data, map out your data strategy – or a strategy for using data in the most beneficial way for your business. This requires understanding the data needs that are vital to your business strategy, today and tomorrow.

To do this, there are several questions you need to ask, including:

• What are your files going to be used for?

• Which applications generate the files?

• Which applications need which files, and when do they need them? How long do they need them?

• Are the files useful long-term, or just for a single use?

If your data strategy supports the larger business strategy you are on the right path toward remaining sane. This is where you need to engage your business leaders to make sure there is harmony between files and business results.

Method #2: Understand the origin of the files and their intended use.

There is no single file type, and understanding where the file originated, how it will be used, and how often it will be used is imperative to remaining sane. Your file management and data strategy needs to encompass all data and all data infrastructure. Otherwise, as your data grows, your currently go-to cumbersome file structure will overflow with data and your response time will increasingly lag as you scour your file for the right data. If there is an opportunity for file interchange with other programs, this will guide you in Method #3.

Method #3: Put the right files in the right place at the right time.

Please take this step ONLY after you do the first two steps above should you embark on this effort. If you rush in to move files around, they will end up in the wrong place and you probably will have to reorganize the file more than once losing time, risking data loss and corrupted data paths. Action without strategy and planning will lead to chaos.

Approach File Management More Effectively

If you’d like to dive deeper into file types, placement and characteristics, and how to  leverage the value of your files, please join me for my upcoming webinar on “How to Effectively Manage your Files” on May 29. During the webinar, I’ll review the world of files, including the wide variety of file types, some useful file data strategies, how to repurpose files for additional value, and review file infrastructure options, as well as extracting business intelligence from files.

Register / stream here, and join me for some fun with files.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Erik is the Senior Director, Product Marketing of Western Digital's Data Center Systems, with 25+ years of experience in high tech storage.