Using SharePoint as a File System

Most SharePoint users would be familiar with the built in WEBDAV functionality; like document library explorer views which allows drag and drop functionality or the ability to map a document library in SharePoint as a network drive but  most don’t  consider that a combination of this SharePoint and NTFS functionality can provide a really cool web interface to a file system.  Here is an example so you can see what I mean..

Create a very basic SharePoint site collection called Company. Keep it as sparse as possible so WSS style, no publishing, etc. If you wanted to you could delete any of the document libraries and lists created automatically with the site collection template so there is basically nothing in the site. Next, create a sub site called IT, again keep it minimal (use a blank site template) but make sure a document library is available to house your file system docs.

Download SPIEFolder from codeplex. This is a great little cmd line tool that is so simple that it just can’t go wrong. I’ve heard of all kinds of utilities that have been produced to migrate documents from a file system to SharePoint -with fancy bells and whistles that let you maintain the NTFS security and exclude ceratin file types etc but from what I have seen, the fancier the utility the more likely it is going to fall over and not recover, which is not cool when you want to leave it running over night to migrate 1000s of documents. SPIEFolder is great and the source code is provided so if you want to, you can add in some extra functionality yourself (e.g. a bad filename renamer function- I’ll release this later).

Set this lil guy migrating a small folder in your file system to the IT document library.

spiefolder http://sharepoint/company/IT  “Procedures” c:\spiefolder\SeedFiles import

When the migration is complete, map the company SITE as a network drive by opening explorer, chosing Map network drive and entering the site address e.g.  \\sharepoint\Company under the relevant drive letter. Now you should be able to see the entities inside your SharePoint site. Some of these are not visible through the GUI but are visible in explorer such as the m folder which represents the mobile features of the site.

company1

In your company drive, all you really want to see is your IT site so you can navigate into the directory and consequently see your IT “Procedures” library. What you need to do is use explorer to right click the folder you want to hide, select properties and then tick the hidden box at the bottom of the properties window. Hide everything but your IT folder then open the folder and you should see you Procedures library.

hidefolder

When you open the library folder you will see the documents inside. SPIEFolder will create folders inside document libraries based on the file system structure you are importing from. If you have very complex item level permissions in your file system you may want to look at another tool other than SPIEFolder because with this tool permissions are not bought across. You can however replicate the permissions in SharePoint using the GUI and this access will be applied in the explorer window also.

There is a bit of fiddling in the beginning to import each FS folder strcture into the relevant site and document library in SharePoint and hide any unwanted entirties in explorer, but after that you are left with a really neat representation of your file system within SharePoint. Things to consider here  are the size of the document stores you will be migrating. Consider the final size of your content database and perhaps think about moving “departments” or other categories of documents into separate site collections with differnt content databases.

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