Spring is the time when home owners and renters' minds turn to cleaning and re-organizing; time to throw out the unneeded junk and organize the closet so that you can actually find that flash light when you really need it.

There can be a similar feeling at work, when you look at your departmental drive and see files that were created 5 years ago gathering dust, and folders under groups that no longer have that responsibility.

Before you start to move stuff around you need to know the important difference between "moving" the files, and "copying" the files.

Your instinct when re-organizing a folder might be to "move" files.  It seems like the logical choice because it saves time by doing everything in one step (removing the files from the old location, and putting them into the new location).  There is one very important downside to using the move command.

When you MOVE a file or folder, the item retains the original privileges.  

Let's say I decide that all the files in O:\Staff\Human Resources\Private\Doug's Expense claims folder (previously managed by HR) should now be managed by Finance.  So I "move" the folder O:\Staff\Human Resources\Private\Doug's Expense claims to O:\Staff\Finance\Private\Doug's Expense claims. After the move is finished, the system sees that the original permissions have been retained so:

  • only the people that have access to the folder in Human Resources would be still be able to access the folder, even though the folder is now in the Finance folder...  but since HR people can't see the Finance stuff, no one can actually access Doug's files
  • even though the folder is in the finance private folder, no one from Finance would be able to read it because the original permissions forbid it.  Regardless of where I put it, only the original group of people that had access can access the file when you MOVE it. 

When you COPY the file or folder, the item now takes on the new privileges of the new location.

Alternatively if I COPY the folder from HR to Finance, then the folder now takes on the new privileges of the new location.  As soon as I finish the copy, HR no longer has access, but Finance does.

So remember when doing your spring cleaning, if you want the folder to have the same restrictions as before, MOVE the folder.  If you want the files to be handled by different people, then copy the files instead, and don't forget to delete the original when you are finished :)