SharePoint Vs. Network File Share

When you first heard of SharePoint and learned that one of its main functions is document management, you might have asked yourself this question: Why should I invest in SharePoint if I’ve already got Network File Share? The answer is simple: SharePoint is not here to replace Network File Share but to add value to your business by increasing and maintaining it competitiveness in the long term. Compared to Network File Share, SharePoint provides a greater amount of more efficient and effective functionality in enterprise content management.  Let’s explore these similarities and differences between them:

SharePoint VS. NFS Similarities:

Both SharePoint and Network File Share store files in a common place and provide access of these files to different users depending on the permission levels. They both allow file sharing and exchange, and serve to make files easier to find.

SharePoint VS. NFS Differences:

When it comes to the differences between the two, SharePoint has to be in the spotlight for how much value it adds to the traditional document management system. Here’s a list of some of the empowering features of SharePoint (SharePoint 2010 Enterprise):

  1. Versioning: Have you ever run into the situation where you were working with several team members on a document and you couldn’t find the latest version, whether it was an email attachment, on a local drive or on the Network File Share? With the versioning feature in SharePoint 2010, you no longer need to worry about it. SharePoint versioning tracks changes, saves versions and maintains document history at one place. No matter if it is the latest version or the previous versions, you can easily find it on a SharePoint site.
  2. Check In & Check Out:  Tried to work on the same document with a coworker but the changes you made were overwritten? Now with SharePoint, you can check out a document for editing so no one else can edit it until you check it in.
  3. Document ID: Couldn’t find a document because it was moved or renamed? In SharePoint 2010, every file has a unique document ID. Regardless of the location or name, you will be able to find the file as long as you have the correct Document ID.
  4. Alerts and RSS feed: Has your coworker made some modifications to the file that you were working on together, but you didn’t find out about it until two days later? With the alert feature in SharePoint 2010, you can always keep yourself updated by setting up the alerts to send notifications of any changes made by others. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds to receive updates.
  5. Working Offline: Got home and found out you forgot to save a file from the Network File Share to your local drive and now you have to run back to the office to download it? With SharePoint Workspace, you can synchronize the SharePoint document library to your local drive and work from anywhere at any time. SharePoint Workspace syncs automatically any updates you made when you get back online again.
  6. Metadata & Search: Did it ever take you 10 clicks to go through the layers of folders to find a file? With SharePoint Metadata and Search engine, you can forego the traditional hierarchical folders, create searchable document pools with organization specific key words and tags, and most importantly, use customized search arguments to find the right file regardless of its physical location.
  7. 2-Stage Recycle Bin: Have you ever accidentally deleted a file on Network File Share and had to start all over again? The SharePoint 2-stage recycle system saves you from this scenario by giving you more time and opportunities to retrieve a document. Even after you delete a file from the recycle bin on a SharePoint site, it will still be recoverable for a certain period of time because of the second stage recycle feature.
  8. Templates: Organization-specific document templates can be stored and shared on SharePoint sites so that documents can be created in a consistent manner with the same structure, format, and metadata etc.

Having said so much about SharePoint features, it doesn’t necessarily mean that SharePoint will replace Network File Share. To find out why that’s the case, here’s a good reference article: Is the File Server Dead?

As you can see, both SharePoint and Network File Share store and share documents, yet SharePoint makes data accessible and useful no matter where or how it’s stored. When it comes to working with documents that have collaborative values, SharePoint 2010 definitely offers the better solutions.

March 6, 2013