How File Locking Facilitates Collaboration In The Cloud

How is cloud collaboration done today ? Perhaps this scenario may sound familiar. There is a need to share a file with someone so it is attached to an email and the recipient takes a copy of the file, edits it, and then send it back attached to a fresh email !

Why is this process so common ? It is because collaborating on files stored in different places outside of a local network is just hard.

Storage Made Easy’s rich collaboration features make the SME software especially attractive to enterprises with Cloud sync-and-share use cases. Recently the SME file locking feature has attracted attention because it prevents accidental overwrites of one user’s work by another user. File locking is important when users are sharing a file or document with other users. A file lock is applied to prevent multiple people from opening and updating the same document or file at the same time.

This post takes a quick look at how file locking works and how SME’s desktop tools take advantage of it to increase user productivity.

How Locking Works

The principle behind the Cloud file locking implementation is simple: Storage Made Easy keeps track of which users have opened which files for editing.  If a second user tries to change a file that is already being edited by another user, SME blocks the second user’s access.

On the Web, file locks can be set manually through SME’s Web File Manager. When a file has been locked, either manually through the File Manager or automatically by a desktop tool (as described below), its locked state is indicated in the File Manager by picture of a lock on the file’s icon:

Cloud File Locking

The user who set the lock can also clear it manually through the File Manager.  Additionally, SME Organization Administrators can override Organization Members’ locks.  This provides a way to unlock a file in case a user locks it and then doesn’t release it.

 

How SME Desktop Apps Use Locking

The SME Desktop Apps make locking automatic for many of the most common editing scenarios, for example editing Word or Excel documents with Word or OpenOffice.  This functionality is implemented in the Windows, Mac and Linux Desktop Tools.  Here’s how it works:

  • When a user opens a file for editing, SME automatically locks the file.

clouddrive

  • If a second user tries to open the same file for editing, the file will be opened for read-only access. A message informs the second user that the file is in read-only mode.

Cloud Drive 2

  • When the first user closes the file, SME automatically unlocks the file.

clouddrive3

SME’s file locking feature prevents one user from unknowingly overwriting a second user’s work.  The automatic file locking in the SME Desktop Tools integrates this protection seamlessly into the file editing workflow, improving user efficiency both by saving time and preventing work loss.

Of course the world today is not just bound to the desktop so the SME Mobile Apps also have the locking feature built in:

Versioning is another feature that works hand-in-hand with locking. Versioned files are files that have been superseded by newer files but which can be kept for audit or archived purposes and which can later be promoted to replace newer version of a file if needed.

Users can see if there are versions of a file easily:

Cloud files versioning

And can easily access and promote the versions simply by clicking on the versioned files icon. SME refers to this as ‘visual versioning’.

Visual versioning

The issue with current file sync and share solutions is they miss many of the features needed to really use them for true collaboration and users resort to ’email-> file share ->edit’.

Storage Made Easy is storage independent and promote interoperability and integration, working with any combination of storage points, be they public or private, so if you have existing solutions that require global locking, versioning, event Audit, Cloud Governance, amongst other things, SME can help.

 

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