I'm spending a bit of free time exploring Windows 7, and the new features it brings over Vista.
One that caught my eye recently is "Libraries".
The concept is that you can link together, in a logical container, different sources of information which are inter-related so that you can conduct searches in one logical place which might search several physical places at the same time.
One application that came to my mind was the sometimes-diverse data locations for small businesses. Businesses that can't afford system-wide storage upgrades, or deploy solutions ad hoc (as resources and space allow), frequently have similar data sources in different places.
An example of this is a project manager who might have a folder of files on his desktop, a shared network drive for team members to share data from, and a in-house hosted FTP site. All three locations have relevant project data and would benefit from Libraries using Windows 7.
However, when I tried to test this out, I got an error stating that the network folders I wished to add were not indexed and couldn't be included. For performance reasons I have indexing off on the server share. Not an uncommon occurrence, especially with small business who might not be able to afford the high-speed hardware (and capacity) to support indexing.
From a user perspective, I noticed a link to a help file about "How can this folder be indexed?" What I found here caused me some serious concern.
The suggested workaround is for the user to make the network folder available offline and then that offline folder can be locally-indexed. This can cause some real problems, especially again considering the small business. Workstations are frequently just fast enough and have just enough capacity to get the work done. Not to mention network bandwidth. Take a significantly-sized network folder (say 2-8 GB) and that user might find themselves in a bit of trouble. Yes, offline folders are limited to a percentage of available disk space but most users might not be aware of that.
I think Libraries are a great idea, but as with anything; should be approached with caution. I think that Microsoft's help article should have included a note to check with your network or system administrator before following the advice to do Offline folders.
Labels: small business, windows 7