Email, not a document repository

Email, not a document repository

You wouldn’t use your snail mailbox as a filing cabinet, so why are you still using your email to store documents long term? The truth is there are better solutions out there for long term storage that do not include clogging up your inbox. Email is a transit system, not a storage system it’s as simple as that. But then again so are automobiles and some of us use those like storage facilities as well. Modern document sharing solutions exist, and you likely already pay for them.

Similar to an automobile though, email is meant to hold some useful stuff, but not meant to house contracts or documents for a long time. Unlike our cars email is accessed a variety of different ways, on your phone through an app and on your computer through a website or an email client. And when we absolutely stuff our email boxes full of old documents instead of utilizing more modern solutions, we are asking for problems. Modern solutions provide better indexing, more granular security, as well as a more complex and secure sharing system that email just cannot compare to and never will because email was designed as the vehicle not the storage locker.


What is indexing? Just like print textbooks computers keep indexes of specific terms. Harken back to the days of yore when you would open a book and flip to the back to find what you were looking for in the index. Same exact concept, except your computer is creating the back of the book index. Indexing is the system by which a computer can quickly search for keywords in the metadata and body of documents and emails.

Indexing is the system by which a computer can quickly search for keywords in the metadata and body of documents and emails.

Email products such as Outlook and Gmail are capable of doing this to a degree. However, their indexing capabilities are limited once the batch of information becomes too big.

Have you ever tried to search for an email that you KNOW exists, but you’re doing it on your phone and not on your computer? You try a variety of search terms but can’t find it. So you switch to your computer, and after several minutes you are able to find finally find something? Or maybe you weren’t able to find anything by using the search bar and you have to scroll through every email or sort change your sort patterns a variety of different ways to finally find the ONE email you were looking for. If you said no, you either are not using email for anything or are lying to yourself.

These are symptoms of indexing that has not completed, and it’s usually because the index has timed out or has reached capacity.

Granular Security

Email is a single gate security system. Meaning, once you are in, you are in. You have full access to everything that exists inside that email inbox. You can forward, download, delete, or change anything. Depending on a few other factors in your environment, those changes may be irreversible and unlogged. While modern solutions offer granular security. What does that mean?

Two teams that must collaborate need vastly different access.

Granular security allows some users to only read some things while other users to be able to change things. It can also mean that Team A only has access to Team A files, while Team B only has access to Team B files, but the manager has access to Team A & B files. This just is not a feature of email, it never was intended to be a feature. Modern document sharing solutions such as Microsoft Teams or Sharepoint, and Google Drive do offer granular security. The team at Technology Did It is well versed in the most popular modern sharing solutions, how to implement, and a variety of best practices surrounding those systems.

Complex and Secure Sharing System

Have you ever sent an email and thought, ooops I forgot to add blah blah blah to the attachment? Or I need to make a quick change to that document I just sent. Well, the problem with email is that once you hit send it is gone. There are no take backs. Your email and its attachment has just bounced off half a dozen email servers around the continent along with your mistake. Modern and secure document sharing solutions such as Google Drive and Microsoft Teams or Sharepoint do not suffer from this affliction. While they do still bounce off half a dozen servers, you are not sharing files through email with these modern solutions. You are merely sharing a link to a file. Which means that once you hit send on the email you can go back and make minor tweaks to your file until your heart is content.

It also means that you can block downloading your file, and once you are done sharing with a person their access can be revoked. This is huge. If you have ever collaborated with somebody via email and ended up with 10 different copies of the same file all just slightly different. With modern sharing there is only one file, and you own it. This means you control the changes, you control the access, and you control the version history. Simply put, modern sharing puts you in control.

At the end of the day, people will still use their cars as storage facilities and they will still use their emails as document repositories. However, armed with a little bit of knowledge hopefully a few Ellis County Small Businesses can be avoid these pit falls.

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Tiffany Carra, PMP, ASM, SPOC, ITILv4

Tiffany is a lifelong nerd, starting her journey on a 1984 IBM PCjr with 64kb expansion memory cartridge and dual floppy drives.

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Tim Wilkins

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