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  • Only use alphanumeric characters (i.e., A-Z, 0-9), space, hyphen or underscore in file names.  A reference for reserved characters can be found here for Mac and here for Windows.  Pay special attention when copy/pasting from a program to a filename to ensure no special characters are inserted.  A common one we see is the em-dash, MS Office autocorrect tries to insert this in hyphenated words by default.
  • Keep it simple.  A shallow directory structure is generally easier to browse than a deeply nested structure, quicker to search, etc.  Many applications cannot process a directory path longer than 256 characters (i.e., M:\<this-part-including-slahes-should-be-less-than-256-characters>).
  • For data in shared directories, it is best to group data by ‘need to know.’  For example, we might have an “Internal Procedures” directory for IT (as an aside, our external procedures, i.e., those that should be available to everyone, are available through…which you already know since you’re reading this…).  Our IT Manager (and possibly a delegate, because, let’s face it, keeping procedures up to date is a lot of work…) would have full access while the subordinate staff has read-only access.  Additionally we may have a “Scratch” space for IT where everyone in the unit has full access, with the understanding that the integrity is volatile (i.e., everyone in the unit has access).  This space would allow subordinate staff to copy an Internal Procedure, make a correction and refer the Manager to the copy to review/merge with the authoritative “Internal Procedures”
    • The important point is that “shared permissions” are consistently inherited from the top down.  We commonly get requests to share one folder in a deeply nested structure (e.g., M:\My_Division\My_Lab\etc\etc\this_folder_needs_to_be_shared). Over time, it is very easy to forget an exception was made, especially if it is an exclusionary rule.  With respect to, we’re recommending a completely flat organization schema (i.e., M:\My_Division\My_Lab becomes M:\My_division_my_lab … if your lab wants an “Internal Procedures” directory it would be provisioned as M:\My_division_my_lab_Internal Procedures)
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