Reader Tip: Working with files on a server

Macworld Australia Staff
6 September, 2011
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Thanks Stuart for this great tip!

I work in a graphic design studio environment where all work is centralised on a server. However, I prefer us to adhere strictly to the principle, recommended by Adobe and others, to never open files directly from the server.

InDesign in particular constantly writes temporary auto-save files to disk, and deletes them when the document is closed. Doing this over a network can result in corrupted documents and un-deleted temporary files scattered around. I think this is due to brief interruptions to the data stream caused by other activity on the network.

Unfortunately, people find it tedious to work locally and then to go hunting for the appropriate folder on the server when the job is to be backed up. My approach is to create a local folder for the job and, after some work has been done, drag a copy of the folder to the appropriate place on the server (in our case, one of many sub-folders).

THEN immediately option-c-drag an alias of that job folder from the server into the local job folder. Thereafter, whenever significant changes have been made, and the document saved, just drag it onto the alias in your job folder. Replace the previous version or add a new version number to the file name before dragging.

As an added bonus, when a job is completed, I drag the alias into a ‘Completed Jobs’ folder on my Mac and delete the local job folder. If I ever need to re-visit the job, I do a search in the Completed Jobs folder and double-click on the alias, opening the job folder on the server.

Stuart Beatty


3 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. David Blatner says:

    I like this trick! Note that the topic (running InDesign files off a server) is covered in more details in this blog post:

  2. AM Concepcion says:

    Actually, Adobe requires InDesign users to work off the server in some situations; it’s in the documentation. Still, some users feel as you do (it’s just asking for trouble).

    Here’s a pertinent post, and check out the comments from users “in the field”

  3. Dod says:

    Im glad this works for you but it looks like a recipe for disaster to me. It requires a level of file discipline lacking in most creative agencies. In particular when working with creatives who work on laptops, any procedure that encourages them to horde stuff locally while trusting them to follow complicated (compared to open,work,save) procedures makes me shudder. It’s hard enough getting people to place files they’ve been working on back on the server on an add hock basis. If they were jumping in and out of several client jobs a day it won’t work. Also, what happens when you’re at lunch/in a meeting and someone needs to make an amend or a PDF or just look at a file that’s been copied onto your machine? How do they know you’ve been working on it and the server ver is now old? Might work in a very small setup but it would seem to be more problematic than any server based system I’ve ever worked on

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