ECM file sync - dedicated folder vs arbitrary folders

One new feature that many ECM platforms (and all Cloud-based file sharing tools) provide is the ability to sync files across your multiple devices: desktop, laptop, mobile phones, and tablets. The idea is that you should be able to access your files -- and optionally complete tasks -- irrespective of your location or device type.

To do this, you typically install a client application provided by your vendor. It monitors your folders on the server as well as local environment, and syncs any changes between the server, computer, and other devices via device-specific apps. There are a number of variations here but you want to pay attention to how folders are synched.

Some tools such as dropbox and Box expect you to create a dedicated folder -- or create one automatically on installation. Then when you put in files in that folder, the service syncs those files with the server and other devices. What this means is that you will keep track of which files to sync and them copy (or move) those files to that specific folder resulting in duplication of files and other associated issues. The benefit of course is that this approach is simpler and straight forward.

Other tools, such as EMC Syncplicity, allow you to add any arbitrary folders to your sync list. The main benefit is that you don't have to worry about moving or copying files but instead you can keep working with files in their usual locations. Of course, when the number of sync folders increases, you might get into manageability issues.

We explore this and other aspects in much greater detail on a vendor-by-vendor basis in our recently released ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations. You can subscribe or download a sample here.


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In real life I don't see ECM standards proving particularly meaningful, and you should see them as a relative benefit rather than absolute must-have.