You likely have at least a simple understanding of how you connect in your office: wireless, Bluetooth, CAT 5, etc, but don’t forget or overlook other methods of connecting to your office and to your client – or how they connect to you.
& Dropbox to name a few.
How do you share files, information, and ideas? How can you share something with a client that is over the 5 or 10MB limits they probably have?
- Email? Probably not.
- Burn a disk? Those days are swiftly passing…going, going, soon gone?
- Thumb drive? Sure, if you are okay with giving away a thumb drive every time you want to give a large file to someone (they say they’ll return them – they don’t).
We have utilized several options to connect and share files with others outside the office, with ourselves within the office, and with our mobile devices wherever we are.
Let’s consider FTP for a moment – File Transfer Protocol has been around for awhile. It lets you host a drive in your office (or in the cloud, I suspect) where you can control access of others as they retrieve files from you or upload files to you for design purposes.
But my firm utilizes Apple devices. Guess what? Apple doesn’t allow or accommodate FTP hosting with their operating system.They may now, but it would be through some APP that you then have to purchase and maintain – it is in my opinion this has just not been something Apple has wanted to participate in.
That was one of the lessons we learned as we converted and drank the Cupertino kool-aide.
All in all, it has not been a problem.
We did host an FTP site at one time – in our Windows world – and as a result had to:
issue instructions to log-in,
use the site with established permissions and protocols.
While it was a bit high maintenance, it did allow us to monitor, control, and otherwise be the gatekeepers of who saw what, when, and where.
We utilized a software called Cute FTP and, despite the very non-technical name, it worked great. This was a good system that worked well through monitoring efforts and management of access log-ins and passwords. Now things are a little simpler – or so it would seem.
Regarding the design process, Dropbox has been the answer to the maiden’s prayer for years. Dropbox allows for sharing files in a multitude of ways – from attaching file links in emails, sharing folders that allow download and upload, and apps that link automatically into your dropbox account to files located there.
One word of caution:
Dropbox loads up your computer if you are not ready for it. We use it a LOT in our office and have found whatever you have in your dropbox account, you also have on your hard drive.
YES. That’s right.
While Dropbox is in the cloud and extremely flexible, it is ALSO resident on your computer…this means every file in your account.
EVERY file – yours and those that have been shared with you. I’m not saying this is wrong, just a little known fact. The capacity of your account also needs to be accounted for on your hard drive – don’t accept invitations to large shared folders if you don’t have the space in your dropbox account AND your hard drive.
We have found it historically does not like to transfer really large files – we’re talking giga-bites of information – because they are suspected to be pirated movies. While we completely respect this concern, we have never found a way to get a large file we created to successfully transfer to other devices (specifically iPads, iPhones, etc.) through Dropbox.
But there is work around, so for now we enjoy Dropbox.
In all fairness, there are a variety of competitors. More power to them. We have tried some – OwnCloud and Citrix to name two – but we have found there is almost always a limitation or a catch – a required OS or difficult user interface (you shouldn’t have to know how to code or work in DOS to set these things up).
We have found Dropbox to be the most intuitive and universally known software of this type – and used by our clients as well – to the point that this is where we have landed for now.
VPN. Virtual Private Network.
The acronym is generic enough, the actual name doesn’t explain much to me at all, but it works great…basically providing the ability to log-in to your office and connect to all the files, printers, computers, etc. you would need as if you were in the office (which you aren’t if you are utilizing VPN connectivity).
Have you ever needed to access files from your office at home, in a hotel room in another city? VPN.
Have you ever needed to print something in your office while you aren’t there? VPN.
It does require some geekiness to set up and establish protocols. Find the nerd in the office, wind them up, let them go, and get out of their way.
With establishment of a VPN router (hardware), VPN gateway (software), and established protocols (user accounts, log-ins, passwords and permissions – choices in software setup) you will be working in your office while you are not IN your office – it’s really quite cool.
It also lets you be productive at all times: business trip, vacation, home…your’e still “in the office.” So try VPN – you’ll be plugged in all the time.
With some caveats:
- Windows does VPN really well.
- It typically requires internet access – you will need that.
- Apple used to do VPN – then quit. Literally, without warning.
We updated our OS to Sierra on our Apple computers and discovered they no longer “do” VPN. Just like that, the ability was gone.
Their answer? You guessed it – an app. This one is called Shimo and was (after about 30 frustrating minutes) immediately purchased, installed, and working. We have had some update needs to keep things current, but all this is to say there is apparently always an app for that.
VPN is great.
Management of the protocols and permissions allow everyone to access the office/design process and be plugged in – literally – at all times.
- There is no reason why you have to be disconnected from the office, or your clients, or your design process.
- Ideas happen when they happen; they are not 9 to 5 – they never were, they never will be.
- Design is not a sterile “only in the office” process, but you can literally now take the office with you if you desire to.
VPN, FTP, Dropbox et al – all allow flexible, intuitive, 24/7 access to your design process, not just for you – but your clients as well.
This design process truly now has no limits – no down time.
What are you waiting for?
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