File Archiving With ArchiveConnect

File archiving solutions can help companies store, manage and protect valuable information by automatically archiving older files onto low-cost storage hardware. There are many benefits that come with such products; however these benefits are lost if employees cannot access this archived data in an easy and timely fashion.

Leading archive products solve this problem through something called a “stub” file. A stub file is a small pointer file that remains on the file server. This file includes the original file name and a pointer to the complete archived file. This allows users to see which files have been archived and then request access to the file in a self-service manner by clicking on it, or opening it in an application. This is an excellent approach to file archiving as employees can continue to use their desktop applications to access files regardless of whether they are “online” or “offline” (archived).

File Archiving with a Mac – The Problem

Unfortunately, Macs do not recognize that stub files are pointers to archived files and cannot differentiate between online and offline files the way Windows can.  Making matters worse, the advanced user experience features of a Mac, including file previewing, Quick Look and Cover Flow, trigger requests to restore archived files automatically.

These features on the Mac attempt to create a preview of each file in a folder once a user browses that folder with the Mac Finder. This can generate hundreds, if not thousands, of simultaneous requests to restore archived files. This puts tremendous strain on both the file server and the file archiving software and can dramatically reduce performance for all employees. It also negates the benefits of file archiving by bringing many files back online, potentially consuming all available disk storage space, making it impossible to create new files on the file server.

All of the above issues mean that companies with a mixture of Macs and Windows PCs cannot deploy a file archiving solution without placing tremendous restrictions on Mac users. This can be an especially challenging problem if it is the Mac users on creative teams that are accessing and creating the largest digital files.

ArchiveConnect – The Answer

ArchiveConnect solves this problem through a small client that runs on each Mac that ensures that the Mac Finder treats stub files as offline files. ArchiveConnect provides a great end-user experience while protecting archived files from inadvertent requests to restore them.

ArchiveConnect blocks the Mac from previewing any archived file while allowing it to still preview online files1. Users can still open archived files by double-clicking or control-clicking on the stub file. Additionally, administrators can require that users confirm that they want to open (recall) an archived file.

1Previewing is not available when using SMB with Mac OS X 10.4