Archive for the ‘Productivity’ Category

Competitor Series: FileCloud vs CTERA

In our blog last week we went over the difference between FileCloud and Egnyte and what you might want to look for when selecting a top-notch CCP (content collaboration platform). This week, we’re continuing our competitor series and reviewing FileCloud vs. CTERA.

FileCloud vs. CTERA

Like FileCloud Server, CTERA is an on-prem solution, which means files and data are kept on your servers, behind your own firewalls. CTERA was founded in 2008 and is a solid CCP solution.

Of course, one of the valuable aspects of FileCloud is that while we provide a hyper-secure, on-prem solution with FileCloud Server, we also have options for hybrid and cloud-based solutions such as FileCloud Online. This gives your organization flexibility no matter how your needs change over the years.

Another aspect of FileCloud Server that we consider vital for enterprises? Top-of-the-line compliance features.

FileCloud, CTERA, and Compliance

Compliance is like a keeping an emergency kit in your car—you hope you don’t have to use it, but you’re sure glad you have it when it’s needed.

Data privacy laws are only getting stronger since one of the biggest ones—The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR—went into effect in 2018. In fact, the large majority of countries have enacted or are enacting privacy laws. If you collect or keep data, you are required to comply with these laws, whether you want to or not.

Of course, these ever-changing laws raise challenging questions on how to sort, protect, and control the data your enterprise uses.

That’s where FileCloud’s compliance features come into play.

FileCloud’s Compliance Center is a hugely popular tool that allows enterprises to connect complicated compliance regulations with FileCloud’s powerful security and DRM options. Current compliance configurations include ITAR, GDPR, and HIPAA.

On top of FileCloud’s Compliance Center, users can configure FileCloud to comply with a host of other regulations and guidelines including:

  • CJIS
  • EAR
  • DoD Cloud Computing SRGs
  • FIPS 140-2
  • IRS-1075
  • CMMC
  • NIST 800-171
  • GxP

CTERA does offer compliance support options, like a FIPS-140-2 Compliant Encryption Model and some compliance dashboards, but it doesn’t have the plethora of compliance support options available with FileCloud.

Secure Content Collaboration and Productivity

Another important aspect of any CCP comes down to collaboration and productivity tools. After all, what would a content collaboration platform be without features to support organized file sharing?

It’s easy to lose or forget about files during a busy day (week/month/year). This is why FileCloud strives to make collaboration easy through features like file sharing requests, commenting, tagging and notifications.

CTERA does not have these options available, which can pose a significant barrier to streamlined collaboration.

File Locking and Lock Management (via MS Office/DocIQ)

Enterprises must be able to control who can make changes to a file. This is necessary for both compliance (in the case of files not being able to be changed) and collaboration. With FileCloud, files can be locked to ensure only one person can make changes to a file. In addition, admins can manage locked files directly to ensure no files are permanently locked.While CTERA does have collaboration tools such as Team Folders and unlimited file versioning, it does not have the more advanced features that FileCloud provides.

Streamlined, Automated Processes

Enterprises often start looking for CCPs because they want to protect their data, but also because simple file sharing and storage can save enormous amounts of time.

Enter Workflow Automation. Workflow automation helps automate tedious yet important administrative tasks like document review, signoffs, and reminders.

Any good CCP now has the option for Workflow Automation, and CTERA is no different, with approval workflows and workflow automation.

The problem? It’s hard enough to get users to adapt to new technology, including CCPs. Ask them to create complicated workflows and they’ll dig in their heels.

That’s why at FileCloud we’ve created a simple, no-code, drag-and-drop workflow builder that anyone can use to create workflows in minutes. In addition, FileCloud also has a convenient dashboard for running workflows, which give managers and users a bird’s eye view on work as it’s being completed. Workflows can also be updated, edited, and shared from this dashboard.

Maintaining your Brand

When it comes to your organization, there’s almost nothing more important than maintaining your brand. Your brand is what creates trust between you, your customers, and your employees. Wouldn’t you rather buy from a company you’ve used before and like, rather than a generic brand who could be selling you “who-knows-what?”

The same is true when it comes to the tech tools you use, like your CCP. If you need to share or accept files from clients, partners, or customers, you want submission forms and web portals to be recognizable as an extension of your brand. This is especially true with rising cyberattacks that include sophisticated phishing efforts. A discerning customer who doesn’t recognize your submission form may choose to send their business elsewhere.

We understand the value of branding at FileCloud, which is why, in addition to the custom domains and communication that CTERA provides, FileCloud also allows you to use your own logo, colors, and background images. This branding helps ensure that your enterprise is visible in all aspects of your business and that customers and partners feel comfortable engaging with you.

The Cost of External Users

One big problem that enterprises face is the cost of external users. With almost all CCPs, you have to buy licenses for your users. That is, the people who’ll be using the product every day.

But there’s always going to be more people needing to use the software. What about when your team lead shares something with a customer? Sure, they can use email or an FTP – but let’s face it, the increased risks of these unsecured methods can end up costing a company thousands or even millions of dollars in regulatory fines or remediation costs from a breach.

Alternatively, CCPs offer sharing through a centralized platform that includes basic features like identification authorization and other security tools to protect data. But these shares must be between users.

Imagine Joe from Sales wants to share some information about a contract with a client; but to do so securely, that client needs to be added to the platform as a user. They don’t need access to the full platform though; they just need simple file access.

The downside? Most CCPs like CTERA require that you pay for those users as part of your license, even though they’re not using the platform every day or leveraging the full suite of platform tools. Those user costs add up fast and can be an enormous drain on your resources.

At FileCloud, we think you’ve spent enough. That’s why we offer unlimited, external user accounts with simplified dashboards for file sharing and review.

That means if Joe in Sales wants to share something with a new customer, he doesn’t have to wonder if it’s worth the cost or take a gamble with unsecured methods. Instead, he can share it, all the while knowing that any files shared are secure and compliant within FileCloud’s top-notch CCP solution.

What Do the Customers Say?

One Software Development Manager who also looked at CTERA as a solution had this to say about FileCloud,

I have been using FileCloud for a long time and I must admit, this is a super secure platform as well that provides an end to end security. FileCloud user interface is simple, seamless, and easy to use, this is one of the best user interfaces I have ever used. […] The file sharing option in this platform is effective and I can send files in just a second to others. I can send the files with security like the view only file, edit the only file and comment only files. The file recovery and the file backup feature are simply great, this provides me full flexibility, and even if I lose the files by mistake, I can recover those files easily […] the technical support function of this platform is really good and effective and I can say they are customer-centric.

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that CTERA is a solid CCP solution. However, when it comes to an all-in-one CCP, we think FileCloud has it beat. We offer in-depth compliance options, content collaboration tools, and easy workflow automation, as well as the ability to maintain your brand and enable sharing with unlimited external users.

Of course, you don’t have to take our word for it. Check out our detailed competitive matrix and decide for yourself how FileCloud stacks up against the competition.

Want to see these features in real-time? Just sign up for a quick product demo and learn how FileCloud can work for you.

Written by Megan Barnard, Digital Content Specialist at FileCloud

 

Competitor Series: FileCloud vs Egnyte 2022

When it comes to Content Collaboration Platforms (or CCP) we think FileCloud is the superior solution with its hyper-security, compliance options, and collaboration tools like Workflow Automation. However, we know that there are other solid solutions around.

We’ve written several competitor blogs on Open Text and Nextcloud, and today it’s time for us to cover Egnyte.

Deployment

Egnyte has a focus on cloud solutions which is a great option for many companies. Unlike Dropbox, it does have a hybrid solution and features like FileCloud’s ServerSync and ServerLink.

However, Egnyte doesn’t offer an on-premises solution. Want to use Egnyte but also want to keep your data behind your own firewalls? Well, you’re fresh out of luck.

We’re not saying Egnyte isn’t a solid CCP solution. However, when you get down to the nitty gritty, Egnyte doesn’t have certain features and benefits that we consider necessary for a CCP, including the option to self-host your data on your own IT infrastructure.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

DRM is a vital aspect of a content collaboration product. Protecting your data and files is something you should be able to control both before and after files have been sent. Unfortunately, Egnyte doesn’t offer an integrated DRM solution, like the one baked into FileCloud’s system. FileCloud’s solution includes the following:

  • Secure Document Viewer/Container

Protect confidential files from unsolicited viewing with restricted viewing mode/container.

  • Screenshot/Print Protection

Utilize the Screenshot and Print Protection feature to prevent recipients from taking screenshots or printing sensitive data.

  • Restrict & Revoke Access to Files After Distribution

Enforce data governance policies even after distribution; revoke file access or change permissions anytime.

Compliance/Security

FIPS 140-2 Compliance

If you’re interested in working with government agencies or government contractors, any system you use will need an additional layer of compliance called FIPS 140-2. FIPS 140-2 is supported by the CMVP (or Cryptography Module Validation Program), a collaboration between the Canadian and US governments (specifically the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST). CMVP establishes a standard for cryptographic modules, validation, and compliance.

Many CCPs don’t have the option of FIPS 140-2 mode like FileCloud does, because it’s an intensive process to attain FIPS certification.

FileCloud was granted FIPS 140-2 certification in early 2019. This rigorous process ensures that systems with NIST 140-2 validation can protect highly sensitive and confidential government data from misuse or abuse as well as mitigate the risk of cyberattacks.


Single Sign-on (SSO)/SAML Support

With how many passwords and logins that employees now have, it can be a huge time-saver to have SSO. This tool streamlines multiple user credentials into one and enables easier access across systems.

FileCloud has this option available, but Egnyte does not.

Device Management

You need to be able to control who is using your system—regardless of what device they’re using.

With FileCloud, you have a complete Device Management System where you can view a list of connected devices and leverage that view to remotely wipe data or block users in case of suspicious activity or device loss.

Egnyte technically has this feature, but it costs extra and has to be enabled. At FileCloud, the feature is automatically enabled in your admin interface and won’t cost a penny more.

 Extra Costs/Not Available

Look, we get it; every system can’t have every option available. However, there are certain things that Egnyte doesn’t have or that cost extra that FileCloud includes automatically such as:

  • Unlimited external user accounts
  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited file versioning

And when we say unlimited, we mean it. You won’t find “gotchas” for these in our pricing model or Terms of Service.

DRM, device management, FIPS 140-2 certification… these are things you might not initially consider so important. But once you need them and don’t have them? You’ll wish you picked FileCloud from the start.

FileCloud’s Competitive Matrix

 Of course, this blog just shows one of many CCPs out there. Wouldn’t it be great if there was one place where you could compare and contrast the major solutions?

Well, now there is.

Introducing FileCloud’s Competitive Matrix. We’ve created this in-depth resource so you can decide for yourself which CCP is the best fit, based on the features you need.

We think FileCloud stacks up against even the biggest competitors. Want to learn more about how FileCloud’s hyper-secure system makes work easier? Sign up for a quick product demo and learn more.

~Written by Megan Barnard, Digital Content Specialist

 

3-2-1 Backup Strategy – Part 3: External Backup via Cloud Service

Now that we have covered backing up your computer and mobile devices locally using an external hard drive or a NAS, we can now set up our final security measure: backing up data via third-party cloud service.

There are many options available:

  • Drive
  • OneDrive
  • iCloud
  • Box
  • FileCloud
  • NextCloud
  • AWS

And many more…

Choosing the Best Fit

While you have many options available with a wide variety of prices, I recommend carefully evaluating your storage needs and privacy concerns to determine the best service for you.

Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, and Box are among the least expensive options. However, these options don’t offer precise user control over where files are stored or granular settings for privacy and reliability. For those who prioritize autonomy, security, and flexibility, a service like FileCloud or NextCloud may be more suitable.

To maximize privacy, running your own on-premises server with a cloud service (Digital Ocean, AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, etc.) is an ideal solution. You can fully control your data storage, but this control comes with a price. Running your own server is often the most expensive option. With that expense comes the ability to configure several layers of access barriers and encryption standards.

For example, you can run FileCloud on-premises on AWS, set up your S3 Bucket, and apply asymmetric encryption standards to your saved files. With these layers in place, if for any reason someone gains access to your S3 Bucket, your files will not be readily available–they would need the encryption keys or direct access to your FileCloud Server to decrypt the data.

The Cost of Running a Server

For users running their own FileCloud Server, we can apply some basic parameters to compare pricing, using calculators provided by cloud service platforms.

  1. Medium size computer
  2. Linux OS (Ubuntu)
  3. Additional 500 GB disk
  4. FileCloud Community Edition (sold separately)

For this example, we used the Google Cloud calculator:

Screenshot of Google Cloud calculator

With our initial parameters, the calculator has estimated that it would cost around $45 per month to run an independent server.

However, if your company already runs a FileCloud server or pays for FileCloud Online, you can take advantage of FileCloud’s backup option at no additional cost. This feature uses your existing cloud space; you can rest easy knowing your critical data is backed up in the event of a disaster (mobile device gone, computer gone, hard drive gone).

Backing Up Hard Drive Data to FileCloud

FileCloud includes an end-point backup solution that can help you back up specific folders from your local computer (like your hard drive) to your FileCloud account.

To add your local hard drive to FileCloud, open the Sync application and select “Backups” under the Configuration menu:

Screenshot of Backups Tab in FileCloud

From the “Backups” tab, you can select a folder, including that of your connected hard drive device:

screenshot of FileCloud Sync app, add a folder

FileCloud will then sync content found in the designated folder to your user account. I recommend enabling the “Email notification after the backup completes” option. This way, you can track when and how often your files are backed up.

screenshot of FileCloud Sync - backed up folders

Once configured, the FileCloud Sync application will back up your hard drive data to your FileCloud backups folder. This also completes your external source for backups, which cover the basics of your 3-2-1 backup strategy.

Article written by Daniel Alarcon

3-2-1 Backup Strategy – Part 2: Mobile Devices

Banner for part 2 of 3-2-1 Backup Strategy series (Mobile Backup)

Back Up Your Mobile Device

Following our first article on the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy, we are now going to discuss backing up your mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.).

While both Android and iOS devices have their own cloud storage backup solutions (Drive and iCloud, respectively), we will focus on local backups. These services can act as your third device/location backup solution. I normally prefer not to depend on third-party services, since these typically offer less user control over data and may pose privacy concerns.

Android Device

With Android devices, we have a few options to back up files with a hard drive:

  • If your phone supports USB OTG, you can connect your hard drive directly to the mobile device.
  • Connect your mobile device and your hard drive to your computer, creating a bridge between your devices.
  • Wirelessly connect your hard drive or NAS to your local network (preferred option).

While the first two options are simple enough, they do require you to manually copy your data to your hard drive on a regular (daily or weekly) basis.

The third option, wirelessly connecting or “syncing” your hard drive or NAS, enables you to implement an automatic backup process; this process can grant you peace of mind without needing to rely on manual backups. With a NAS, the storage device is readily available. However, if you only have your desktop/laptop and an external hard drive, you can still automate backups.

How to Wirelessly Sync Android Device Files

The first thing you need to do is to make your hard drive available to access in your local network. First, connect your hard drive to your desktop/laptop computer. Next, go to Windows Explorer/Finder (macOS) and “share” your hard drive device over your local network. (This process may vary depending on your operating system version and type.)
Screenshot of Microsoft Advanced Sharing Dialog Box
Then sync your files from your Android device. I recommend installing Folder Sync on your device to initiate the sync process. There are Free and Pro versions, with the Pro version offering more control over synchronization. Add your hard drive as a device (while connected to the same network as the desktop/laptop hard drive). Usually, you can do this by adding a new SMB (Server Message Block) device:

Screenshot of Dialog Box to add new SMB device

Simply fill in your computer username/password and enter the computer IP address (local network):

Screenshot of dialog box to Identify/name an SMB device

You can test the connection to verify and save your information. That’s all you need to do to connect the hard drive. Now, let’s create a sync pair:

Screenshot of dialog box - create a sync pair between hard drive and local network

Here is where “Sync in the background” can be configured. I recommend the following settings:

  • Sync Type: Remote folder. (If you change anything on your backup device, it will not delete the file on your mobile device.)
  • Remote Folder: Chose a path on your hard drive that will store your backup files.
  • Local Folder: in the screenshot, I chose to use the default DCIM folder to back up my pictures. I recommend adding different folders for other content (e.g., Downloads, Screenshots, Pictures, etc.)
  • Use Schedule Sync: Yes/Daily. Ensures the Sync operation happens every day.
  • Sync Subfolders/Hidden Files: Yes. Make sure you back up everything in the folder.
  • Sync Deletions: No. Very important – if you create large data files (like 4K videos) on your phone, then sync these files to your hard drive to save space, you can then choose to delete the files from your phone, knowing you have a backup of that video on your hard drive.
  • Connection Settings: Sync only over Wi-Fi. If you want to be more specific, you can write your Home Wi-Fi SSID to ensure Sync will only run over your home network.

Screenshot of network settings to enforce syncing only over same wi-fi

Once you complete your configurations, from then on your mobile device will sync to your hard drive when connected over the same home local network and Wi-Fi.

iOS Device

For iOS devices, your options are more limited for local backups:

  1. Connect your device to your computer and back up using iTunes (over USB or wirelessly).
  2. Use third-party applications or services to connect to local NAS.

iOS makes things simple for you to back up your device to your local computer using iTunes; connecting your device and choosing “back up to local computer” will copy your entire device.

Screenshot of iTunes Backup menu

Unfortunately, this will sync your files with the local computer, not the external hard drive. You will need to manually back up your data to the hard drive by copying/syncing your folder from the AppData directory “%appdata%\Apple Computer\MobileSync\Backup”. On a macOS computer, you can retrieve data from “~/Library/Application Support/MobileSync”.

Syncing with a third-party application varies widely since different NAS brands often use proprietary software included on the drive. For example, if you have a Synology NAS, you can use the Synology Moments application to back up your pictures (though not other files). As a result, we will not cover this topic in this article. In our next and final article related to the 3-2-1 backup strategy, we will cover syncing backups with third-party cloud storage.

Article written by Daniel Alarcon

3-2-1 Backup Strategy – Part 1: Desktop/Laptop Computers

Many people know that backups are a good idea, yet not everyone acts to ensure their data is backed up in case a device is stolen, lost, or damaged. By device, we’re not specifically talking about your smartphone; this term includes your laptop, tablet, video camera, etc. — basically any piece of technology that stores data.

Backups are not generally enjoyable. However, once you configure a backup strategy and automate the process as much as possible, you can attain peace of mind as well as effective protection for when the unexpected happens.

This is going to be a three-part article. In this first installment, we will go through the 3-2-1 strategy and explore how to back up your desktop and laptop files. In the second and third parts, we will explain how to back up your mobile device and online backup services.

What is the 3-2-1 Backup Strategy?

The 3-2-1 strategy means that your data resides in three different devices: for example, the pictures stored on your mobile device count as one copy. If you duplicate those pictures to your home desktop computer, that makes two copies of your pictures across two different devices. The third copy should be “off-site.” If your pictures are synchronized with an online service, that counts as your third copy.

In summary:

  1. The file stored in the original device is #1.
  2. The copy stored on your local computer, local server, Network Attached Storage (NAS), etc. is #2.
  3. The copy in an off-site location (via an online service or hard drive stored elsewhere) is #3.

The 3-2-1 strategy is not the only option to protect your files, nor is it the ultimate solution. This is the recommended starting point when it comes to safeguarding your valued data.

Create a Simple Process to Back Up Data

Establishing this process involves two main devices: a smartphone and a laptop or desktop computer. To back up the data on your main devices, you will need a secondary device. In this case, an external hard drive would be appropriate.

Should I Use a Hard Drive or a NAS?

This will depend mostly on preference and how much data you need to backup.

Advantages of a hard drive:

  • Simple to use — plug into the computer via USB, and sync your files.
  • Space — uses very little space in your home/office.
  • Efficient – the hard drive only uses energy when it is connected to the computer.
  • Affordable — a 2 TB hard drive can be found for around $50.

Advantages of a NAS:

  • Network available — no need to connect via USB, you can connect via your local Network.
  • Redundancy — set up a second drive to serve as a copy of the first one in case the first fails.
  • Larger capacity and expandability — use disks up to 14 TB and can upgrade these disks at any time.
  • Accessible – connect the NAS to the internet to store data outside your home/office.
  • Synchronization — the NAS can be synchronized with a cloud service storage provider.

On the other hand, using a NAS has some disadvantages:

  • Higher price — to start using a NAS, you will need the NAS enclosure and at least two hard drives, which can add up to around $150 – $200.
  • More complex setup — you need to install and configure your NAS, which can take at least one to two hours.
  • Always on – a NAS is basically another small computer connected to a power source and network.

We will review NAS storage in a future article. For now, we will focus on getting started with an external hard drive.

How Large Should an External Hard Drive Be?

This will depend on each user. For example, if you are the only person living in your household, you can do some simple math:

1 Laptop (1 TB total disk capacity) + 1 Mobile Device (256 GB) + 1 Tablet (256 GB) = 1.5 TB -> 2 TB

This means that a 2 TB hard drive should be large enough to meet your storage needs. Now, if there is more than one person in your household, consider adjusting this equation to reflect your requirements and invest in a larger hard drive or multiple.

How Do I Back Up My Files Using a Hard Drive?

There are several options to back up your data on a laptop or desktop computer (backing up a mobile device or tablet will be covered in a future article):

  1. Copy/Paste your files.
  2. Use an application to sync your files.
  3. Use your OS backup solution to copy your data.

The copy/paste option is the simplest way to back up your data. Connecting your hard drive to your computer enables you to copy and paste files directly into the hard drive folder. The drawback however is that this method requires user intervention and is often forgotten.

Use an Application to Sync Files

There are several applications available that can back up your data to your hard drive. Hard drives may come with an application pre-loaded, depending on the brand. Personally, I’ve used Free File Sync to copy my computer files to the external hard drive.

Free File Sync is a nice tool because it offers full control over how I want to back up my data, including removing files from the computer as they’re copied to free up space. At a minimum, it’s important to back up your important data, often found in these folders:

  • My Documents
  • Desktop
  • Downloads
  • Any User-Created Folder

Use Your OS to Run a Backup

If you are using Windows or macOS, you can choose to enable the built-in backup function. For Windows OS, you can use the built-in OS solution:

If you are using BitLocker to encrypt your files, you will only be able to back up your history version files, not the live version.

For macOS, you can use Time Machine. The macOS solution is far more powerful than the Windows option. Time Machine allows you to back up files, applications, and application settings, among other data. If you need to restore your data on a new computer, everything will be readily available.

If you choose to sync your files using Free File Sync, MS Windows Backup, macOS Time Machine, or another backup software option, ensure your computer will back up every day to avoid losing relevant or high-touch files.

In the next article, we will cover backing up mobile devices (Android or iOS).

Article written by Daniel Alarcon

VPAT and Keyboard Shortcuts in FileCloud

Web Accessibility Series – Part 1. To read Part 2, click here

One of the quickest ways to boost productivity is to use keyboard shortcuts. Being able to click a button or two and get the results you need reduces your reliance on your mouse, giving you more time to focus on the important things. Since you can keep both hands on the keyboard when compared to using a mouse, using a shortcut to complete a task is often more efficient than seeing the monitor and navigating your cursor around the screen.

How are Keyboard Shortcuts Helpful?

Fun Fact: “An average person loses 2 seconds per minute of work” by going back and forth between the mouse and the keyboard, according to an infographic by American Express Open Forum. If you work 8 hours a day, 240 days a year, you might be wasting up to 64 hours if you don’t use keyboard shortcuts.

Compared to reaching for the mouse or navigating a menu, a single keyboard shortcut not only shaves a moment off your task but also ensures websites are accessible for specially-abled users, in compliance with WCAG Guideline 2.1. FileCloud has created a VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template) that lists the enabled keyboard shortcuts within the platform. Many of the commonly used actions in FileCloud are listed below:

Keyboard Shortcuts

1.     Upload a file: (Insert / U)

Press (U) to upload a file inside any currently opened folder from your computer.
You can also upload a file on FileCloud as you press the (U) key on the dashboard to bring up a “Select File” menu and choose the file to be uploaded on the selected path.

2.     Navigate through files in a list:

To navigate through the file’s list, use up/down arrow keys ( ↑ or ↓ ).

3.     Select the current item:

To select the current item, use the spacebar.

4.     Copy selected item in FileCloud: (⌘/ctrl + C)

Select the items you want to copy, then hold the ⌘/ctrl and press the (C) key. This will bring up the “Select File” menu, where you can navigate to copy the file in the destination folder.

5.     Move the selected item to FileCloud: (⌘/ctrl + X)

Select the items you want to move, then hold the ⌘/ctrl on the dashboard and press the (X) key. This will bring up the “Select File” menu, where you can move the file into the destination folder.

6.     Download selected items from FileCloud: (D)

Select the items you want to download, then press the (D) key.

7.     Lock/unlock selected items on FileCloud: (L)

Select the items you want to lock/unlock, then press the (L) key.

8.     Add a comment to the selected item: (C)

Select a document for which you wish to add a comment, then press the (C) key. This will navigate to the comment section directly.

9.     Delete a selected item: (delete)

Select the item(s) in the file list view, then press (delete) to remove them.

10.  Rename the selected item: (F2)

Select any file/folder you wish to rename, then press the (F2) key.

11.  Share any selected item: (.)

Select any file or folder you want to share with other users, then press the dot(.) key. This will share the files using your default share settings.

12.  Open file operations (More …) menu: (M)

Select any item from the file list and press the (M) key to open the ‘More …’ menu.

13.  Create a folder: (Alt+N)

Navigate inside a folder and press Alt+N to create a new folder.

14.  Preview file or open folder: (⏎)

To open any particular folder, press enter\return. After pressing the enter key, the preview for files can also be opened.

15.  Select/Unselect all: (Shift+A)

To select/unselect all items in the file list, hold shift and press the (A) key.

16.  Navigate to the next page of files: (pagedown)

To load and navigate to the next page of the file list, press (pagedown).

17.  Previous page of files: (pageup)

To navigate to the previous page in the file list, press (pageup).

18.  Navigate to the top of the page: (⌘/ctrl + home)

To navigate to the top of the page, hold (⌘/ctrl) and press home.

19.  Refresh file list: (Alt+R)

To refresh the file list, hold (Alt) then press the (R) key.

20.  Navigate to the next page: (Alt+→)

To navigate to the next page, hold (Alt) and press the arrow key (→).

21.  Go to the previous page: (Alt+←)

To go to the previous page, hold (Alt) and press key (←).

22.  Toggle sidebar: ([)

Use the left bracket ( [ ) to open\close the left sidebar.

23.  Toggle activity bar: (])

Use the right bracket ( ] ) to open\close the right activity bar.

24.  Toggle file operations dialog: (P)

To open/close the operation dialog box, press the (P) key.

25.  Go one folder up: (Alt+Shift+↑)

To go up one level of the directory tree, press the (Alt), (Shift), and Up arrow (↑) keys.

26.  Toggle file list/grid view: (V)

To view the documents list as a grid, press the (V) key.

27.  Show folder properties: (⌘/ctrl+I)

To view folder properties, hold (⌘/ctrl) in the dashboard, then press the (I) key.

28.  Open deleted files page: (Alt+D)

To view the deleted files list, hold (Alt) and press the (D) key.

29.  Filter file list: (Alt+F)

To filter the file list, hold (Alt) and press the (F) key.

30.  Show shortcuts: (Alt+F1)

To view shortcuts, hold (Alt) in the dashboard and press the (F1) key.

 

Conclusion

CodeLathe is committed to ensuring FileCloud is secure, easy-to-use, and feature-rich. You can find a complete list of keyboard shortcuts in the FileCloud documentation.

Article written by Niharika Sah

How to Automate Business Processes

Business Process Automation text accompanied by image of metal cogs in a pile

What is Business Process Automation?

For as long as humans have worked, we have used innovation to make work easier and more efficient. Business Process Automation (BPA) is simply the newest name for this strategy and takes advantage of modern technological advancements.

In brief, process automation can refer to any series of automated actions that fulfill a specific goal. This can range from something as simple and personal as a behavioral strategy (e.g., a new perspective for responding to email) to more complex automation solutions in the form of specific software or hardware tools (e.g., workflow software or assembly line machines).

Automation provides incredible benefits toward operating a business or organization. This is especially true in light of the significant changes the global workforce experienced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly, huge swathes of the population were working from home. Maintaining productivity became a topic for discussion across all levels, not just business executives.

Automation tools were necessarily involved in these discussions, particularly as organizations pursued solutions to make their IT infrastructure both secure and accessible to remote employees. These automation tools are designed to improve quality, reduce waste, and fulfill ambitious business objectives.

Automated processes support consistency and efficiency throughout an organization’s operations. These include regulatory and financial requirements, tax record maintenance, HR processes, client and customer relations, support ticket resolutions, and marketing and sales campaigns, among others.

Benefits of Automation

Studies have estimated that automating certain activities can reduce costs anywhere from 30% to 90% depending on the business model. Automation saves organizations both physical and logistical resources, which can lead to more agile growth in the industry. When mundane, repetitive, or otherwise tedious tasks are automated, the organization’s workforce can focus on innovation and quality across products and services.

Automating processes across an organization also ensures tasks and operations are consistent, which has an overall impact of reducing resource consumption and human error. As demonstrated by Ford’s assembly line for the Model T automobile over 100 years ago, automation leads to greater efficiency, less waste, and higher cost-savings.

Automation tools empower users by streamlining tasks and promoting focus on the type of unique, creative, or otherwise complex work that cannot be automated. This type of work is sometimes referred to as “deep work.” (The concept of deep work is explored in the AirSend blog post “How to Stay Productive While Working Remotely.”)

Visualizing the Impact of Automation

There are many examples of how automation has been adopted across various industries and departments. These examples are considered routine now, but their impact has been monumental for our modern way of life.

Supporting Customers

For instance, most products and services offered around the world have a customer service component to promote buyer satisfaction and loyalty by resolving issues. The organization, receipt, and response for these support requests or tickets is a cycle that can be automated through software and personnel training.

Software platforms and websites can accept, classify, sort, and direct tickets to service desks, where support employees review information in a concise and efficient manner, distributing solutions with greater speed and precision.

This example combines both behavioral and technological automation to remove a burden of effort from employees. They can then provide higher-quality, person-to-person support when communicating directly with a customer.

Maintaining Information

Automation software also plays a role in trafficking information and approval requests. Businesses and organizations rely on accurate, up-to-date information.

Reliable communication channels and data networks can ensure information is accessible to a workforce, but it can be a challenge ensuring the right information reaches the right people. Automating these channels and networks using workflows erases the burden of remembering, which is one barrier to meaningful productivity.

Executing Decisions

Furthermore, any decision-making processes that contribute to operations, finances, or high-level management often require several approval steps to ensure accuracy and accountability. Automated workflows can also support these operations by actively responding to changes, updating data repositories, and/or sending notifications to relevant parties.

More sophisticated workflow solutions can even route approval requests with notifications, accept the information update (of someone approving or denying), and continue the process without hesitation.

By automating the process of updating relevant parties with information and routing approval requests, decision-making processes become more efficient. Organizations can enact policies, finalize contracts, act on projects, and complete other objectives that contribute to long-term goals.

How to Utilize Automation

After considering both what automation is and how it can impact a business, it is important to consider how automation can specifically be implemented within an organization.

Automation succeeds under specific conditions. 1) Information is organized and accessible and 2) automation tools balance flexibility and structure. For example, automation tools or strategies must be able to assess and gather a wide array of information, determine the necessary action, and complete the action without encountering or producing errors.

To identity tasks suitable for automation, it’s useful to consider some factors:

  • Is the work inherently repetitive?
  • Does it involve many different people or groups of people?
  • Is the work time-sensitive or will it have a high impact on other systems and processes within the organization?
  • Does the work require documentation or audit trails to comply with regulations?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then it may be beneficial to consider automation solutions.

Step 1 – Assess

Assess the situation you wish to automate and determine the “touchpoints.” This means any moment where someone needs to review or otherwise contribute to the process for it to continue. Creating a chart or outline using these touchpoints helps you trace the path of information, from the moment it enters the organization throughout processing until the information is archived or deleted.

Step 2 – Identify

Identify inefficiencies that slow or halt a process. By visualizing the process, you can identify points of overlap that can be streamlined or potential blockages that can be dissolved for better flow. This evaluation also helps you identify potential tools or support systems you may need.

Step 3 – Test

Test different solutions to determine which system best supports your operational needs. Be sure to track both successes and pain points. Not all tools are created equal, and not all businesses will benefit from the same support. It’s important to evaluate what works best for your organization.

Step 4 – Implement

Implement the selected BPA solution and fine-tune processes as needed. Business process automation is a significant investment in an organization’s growth and development. By finding the right solution, you can eliminate bottlenecks and inefficiencies, support deep work initiatives for your workforce, and coordinate between people, applications, and services.

FileCloud Workflows

FileCloud is an innovative file storage and collaboration platform that provides an all-in-one solution that incorporates the latest advancements in cloud technology, cybersecurity, and business productivity. With the 21.2 release, FileCloud users will be able to take advantage of workflows within the environment to automate their business processes.

Workflows in FileCloud are dynamic and intuitive. Users can create an automated exchange of data between other users and groups, both within and outside their organization. All steps in the workflow comply with pre-existing security and sharing policies set by admins. This hierarchy of security, sharing, and retention policies ensures that data is protected in all contexts.

The workflow’s drag-and-drop tool and no-code approach make building workflows easy and approachable. Users can also review the status of running workflows through the workflow dashboard. Managers and admins can stay on top of projects and processes through real-time reports and automated notifications that provide a summary of activities.

High ROI

The addition of workflows to the FileCloud environment complements existing features and tools available for users, business managers, IT admins, and CTOs. This powerful yet flexible cloud-agnostic solution scales with organizations and responds to changing industry requirements around the world, providing high value and an adaptive strategy.

In addition to workflows, FileCloud has invested in collaborative tools, such as Microsoft Teams and OnlyOffice integrations (newly released), file versioning, locking, and editing conflict management, and granular folder and file-sharing permissions. Built-in document view and editing make working in the FileCloud web application easy, and users can also take advantage of Sync and Drive and mobile applications to work offline or on the go. Endpoint backups preserve your files without the additional burden of manually uploading to the cloud.

Security is a high priority in FileCloud, with such protections as 256-bit encryption for data at rest, SSL/TLS encryption for data in transit, two-factor authentication, SAML and SSO options, embedded antivirus and malware protection, smart classification, data leak protection, and end-user device management (including remote-wipe), among many other settings. The 21.2 release also includes a new ITAR Compliance Center to support emerging regulatory requirements across governments and industries.

Customer service is another significant area of focus. FileCloud has some of the highest ratings across industry comparison sites in the market. Responsive sales and supports teams ensure clients have the exact configuration that meets their organization’s needs and industry requirements. A wealth of support materials, from webinars, articles, and software documentation to explanatory videos and training seminars with FileCloud specialists, provide users with the knowledge and confidence to wield the full strength of FileCloud.

Find out how FileCloud can help you automate your business processes today! Sign up for a FREE 14-day trial or schedule a demo.

A Deep Dive into Workflow Automation

 

Over the past few decades, organizations have faced the challenge of digital transformation. How do you transition from and improve a workplace previously dominated by email, phones, whiteboards, spreadsheets, and hand-written notes? Each of these tools is based mainly on human memory, increasing the possibility of human error. They can be challenging to use for collaboration and provide poor visibility by management, particularly in the remote or hybrid workplace that is becoming the norm.

Organizations can significantly reduce the reliance on outdated communications and tracking software by implementing workflow automation. Workflow automation improves the efficiency and productivity of organizations by streamlining business processes. It also ensures that a clear record of work tasks is maintained for easy tracking and auditing.

There is far less dependence on human memory, task tracking spreadsheets, and employee manuals. Instead, the structure of essential and ongoing processes is held in an accessible, central repository that can easily be accessed or distributed by anyone with the proper authority (using Role-based Permissions).

What is Workflow Automation?

In concise terms, workflow automation is the design, creation, deployment, and management of business processes based on preset rules. This allows work tasks to be automatically triggered between people, technology, data, and other resources.

Workflow automation can be used to standardize work. It allows for compliance policies and business rules to be met. It reduces or eliminates human error and deviation and provides transparency and accountability at all levels of the process. The tactical goal is to ensure that the appropriate workers are focusing on the correct tasks at the proper time and have everything they require to complete said tasks.

A History of Workflow Automation

  • The 1990s. The first workflow-based automation software solutions were created. This software replaced the paper-based workflow processes with electronic versions, allowing companies to replace paper tasks-routing activities with electronic-form processes.
  • The late 1990s. Business rules and tools for modeling allow companies to build, analyze, and visualize business processes. They can see graphical views of current organizational processes and compare them with prospective trial processes to make work more efficient.
  • From 2005. The current era of workflow automation begins with the introduction of business process management (BPM).

Workflow Automation’s Primary Benefits

There are several key benefits to automating workflows and processes:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity
  • More accuracy
  • Real-time visibility of work
  • Individual accountability at the highest level
  • Ability to set meaningful KPIs and collect real-world data that can be used in process improvement
  • More data for better decision-making
  • Improvement in data security

Other possible benefits include:

  • Better customer experience and vendor relations with a reduction in wait times and errors and improvement in communication
  • More job satisfaction since employees are better able to prove and reap the rewards of high performance

In summary, workflow automation can provide a more consistent, positive experience for all your customers regarding the delivery of finished work products. It makes it easier to get work done and track what is being completed.

The ultimate goal of workflow automation is to give you an advantage over manually-driven competitors. This can be achieved by offering higher quality work, lower prices, and faster decision-making.

Statistics on Workflow Automation

Statistics can provide a wealth of information about how workflow automation is affecting organizations. Here are some statistics on the importance of process automation for digital transformation from a survey of 400 IT decision-makers across the US and Europe.

  • 97% of IT decision-makers agree that process automation is key to digital transformation.
  • 67% of businesses are currently implementing business process automation solutions that improve visibility across various systems.
  • 47% of IT leaders agree that the most significant ROI in automation is achieved within operations.
  • 36% have already implemented workflow automation technology.
  • 29% of organizations plan to implement low-code or no-code workflow automation software soon.

How Workflow Automation Can Help Departments

Automation can streamline the work of any department. Here are some ways that workflow automation software can help:

IT

  • Reduce time and energy spent on building tech processes for other departments by empowering others to build workflows with no-code, drag-and-drop workflow automation
  • Manage department assets and track usage trends
  • Assign escalations and tickets to team members based on availability
  • Avoid duplicate support requests
  • Easily execute stakeholder updates

Sales

  • Standardize processes to simplify list building
  • Ensure that all leads receive excellent treatment and never miss a lead because of human error
  • Get in-depth reports of ongoing processes

HR

  • Reduce paperwork and manage documents more easily
  • Streamlined approval process makes it easier to find, verify and hire candidates quickly
  • Improve and speed up onboarding and off-boarding experience
  • Increase the visibility of your workflow

Finance

  • More easily track expenses to avoid unwelcome expenditures
  • Build workflows for approvals and notifications of employee travel, budgeting, and reimbursements
  • Save time processing approvals

Marketing

  • Streamline content creation process
  • Improve quality by making sure the right people approve all content
  • Increase employee accountability
  • Nurture quality leads with a consistent and trackable process

How to Get Started with Workflow Automation

A workflow automation plan starts with a clear goal and ends in process evaluation. Below are the five steps that go into a workflow automation plan.

1. Identify a Core Process

The first step is to determine a process that is core to your team or department. Ask questions like “Is this process mature enough to automate?” and “Do I have the support of the team to automate it?”

2. Define the Objective

Automation has many benefits. It can increase ROI, speed to market, and team productivity. Clarify the expectations of your team regarding automation.

3. Build the Workflow

Next, it is time to build the workflow using your workflow automation platform. The general steps are to create a new workflow, assign rules and permissions for each step, publish the workflow, and share it with your team.

4. Team Training

Workflow automation will only succeed if its stakeholders are willing to use it. Share the benefits with process owners, show them what you have built, and encourage feedback.

5. Measure Performance

Automation will not be fully realized unless your business measures the differences it has made to pre-existing processes through reports or data analytics. How has workflow automation impacted your KPIs and ROI? That is the question you want to answer.

How to Choose the Best Workflow Automation Software

There are many choices in the workflow automation market. Some are universally applicable, while others cater to specific needs. No matter your situation, workflow automation software must be flexible, fast, and able to fulfill your specific requirements. Below are the most important features in workflow automation software.

Easy to Use

Seeing as automation is intended to make life easier, the product must be simple to learn and use. Look for a user-friendly interface, no-code solutions, and a drag-and-drop design.

Good Pricing

Some vendors charge thousands of dollars just to install workflow automation software. Consulting and implementation are not included. Say no to those vendors. As with any product purchase, avoid shady pricing models and look for something transparent and predictable. 

Customization

The ability to build custom processes is essential to reap the full benefits of automation. You need software that can manage everything from simple to complex workflows with many steps and decision branches.

Simple Tracking

Without the ability to review a process, you can’t improve it. The best workflow automation software tools provide built-in reporting that allows you to monitor and analyze tasks so you can refine your processes.

 

Workflow Automation with FileCloud

Below are some benefits of FileCloud’s workflow automation.

Excellent ROI

FileCloud’s workflow automation is integrated with all of FileCloud’s other benefits, including enterprise file storage, collaboration, flexible infrastructure (self-hosted, hybrid, or cloud), unmatched security and compliance, and award-winning support. Managers can replace unnecessary subscriptions like Nintex by using an all-in-one solution.

Ease of Use

The drag-and-drop tool enables users to create business workflows of all levels of complexity. Managers can easily create and share customized workflows with their staff to improve productivity, reduce errors, and simplify high-volume tasks. Additionally, it is easy for users to automate their work thanks to our no-code design. 

Real-time Tracking

Administrators and users can track every step of their processes with an intuitive dashboard that shows all running workflows. 

Get more information about FileCloud’s Workflow Automation >>>

Using “Allow Manage” on FileCloud Team Folders

One of the most used features in FileCloud is “Team Folders”; it is an ideal solution for sharing folders and files within a team and later sharing the same files and folders with external users, such as customers and vendors partners, etc.

Team Folders have many options for managing users that can access files and folders stored in them:

In the user portal:

  • Your users can share to external users from the User portal‘s share option.

In the Admin UI:

  • You can add/remove users and groups from a Team Folder’s Manage Share window.
  • You can manage the access level to files and sub-folders by using the “Permissions” option in Team Folders.
  • You can give your FileCloud users Allow Manage permission for a Team Folder in the Manage Share window.

In today’s article, we will focus our attention on the Allow Manage feature. You can give this permission to individual users when you add them to a Team Folder.

How to enable the Allow Manage feature for a full user

To add a user to a Team Folder:

  1. Log in to the Admin portal.
  2. Go to Team Folders (in the left menu).
  3. Click on Manage for the folder you want to add the users to.

Add the user and set the permissions.

Example of adding a user to a Team Folder

The common actions you can enable for a user are Allow View, Allow Download, Allow Upload, Allow Share, and Allow Sync; however, there are two special actions that can be added: Allow Delete and Allow Manage. You can access them by clicking the Edit button in the Misc section:

When you open the Miscellaneous permissions for the selected account, you will find that Allow Delete is checked by default and Allow Manage is not.

misc permissions

Please check the Allow Manage checkbox and hit Save to allow the selected user to manage. You can then close the Manage Share main window.

We have now enabled the manage features for the selected user.

 

What options does the Allow Manage feature give to a user?

 

After you enable this for a full account user, it will give the user the ability to:

  1. Add full users to the Team Folder from the User Portal.
  2. View and manage other users’ shares within the Team Folder.

 

Adding full users to the Team Folder from the user portal

 

The Full user to which we enabled the Allow Manage permission now has the ability to add other team members to the Team Folder. After the user logs in to the user portal and navigates to the Team Folder when the Team Folder is selected, the Details pane (right sidebar) will show the Team Folder share options:

 

share details

The user can click on the “Manage Share” link to view the Team Folder share options; from here, the user can see the Team Folder users and add/remove other Full users to it.

Users who are part of share

To add a new user to the share, you invite a new user as you typically add users to a share:

Invite users to share

And the permissions for the new users can be enabled/disabled the same way as in the admin portal.

Set user permissions

View and manage other user’s shares within Team Folders

 

By default, other users can’t see what another user has shared externally; now, the user has access to this information with the Allow Manage feature enabled.

For example, if a user shares a sub-folder from a Team Folder that has Allow Manage permission, the main user can now view/manage the external share from the user portal.

When the full user navigates to the shared folder and selects it, it will display new information in the Details tab:

share details

 

Now, you can view the shares from other users. Some examples of how this is useful include but are not limited to:

  1. View/Add/Remove users from an existing share.
  2. Avoid creating duplicate shares to the same external user from other team members.
  3. Change the share settings (expiration date, access level of the external user – upload, download).