How many defunct clones are draining your data storage?  They travel in hoards like zombies and they take up space.  That’s really all they do—zombies have the whole brain-eating thing, but these are just half-formed science experiments that sort of exist and stare at your from the directory, sending you on a quest for the One True File hiding among the damaged and ill-formed clones.  Sounds a lot more exciting than it is.

When working collaboratively on a creative project, if you don’t have a well-designed work  flow, then you have a veritable Island of Dr. Moreau of half-files clogging your system.  We all do it—we use Save As when adding our edits so we don’t mess up what someone else has done, and we save the most recent version of the file with our changes in case someone else makes a mistake and loses it on their end.  We end up with dated versions, or numbered versions, or versions covered in the initials of the people who last worked on them.  Inevitably, someone will invest hours perfecting something in an old version of the file, and then it will have to be determined if what is missing from that file can be re-added—make the previous person re-do their part—or if the last part has to be re-created with the most recent version of the file.  Someone leaves work that day very frustrated no matter what is decided.  Those are partial, half-formed clones of the real project, and they also slow down the system once you get enough of them.  It’s not fun for anyone.  

Why do we do this?  Because this one time we sent the file to Steve, and Steve said he never got the file, but we handed him the physical drive and we don’t have it anymore, and even though Steve eventually found it—in his hot car, no less—we never want to go through that again.  Save everything.  Copy it.  Copy it on something else and take it home in case the building burns down.  And maybe put another copy in the freezer at home so in case our house catches on fire, too, it will still be ok.  But then we edit the file at work, and we have to update all those other files, and since they are on separate drives in separate places, that’s not exactly convenient.  Oh well.  Just rename it.  We’ll keep the file 10 times until the whole project is done, paid for, and archived, just to be safe.

See all the trouble you’ve caused, Steve.  Tisk tisk.

The thing is, we were afraid of the possibility of a problem, and to alleviate that possibility, we’ve created for-sure problems.  Behind door number one, there might be a problem, but behind door number two, there is most definitely massive confusion, frustration, lost time, and even some animosity as the team plans for each other’s failure.  Gee, I’ll take door number two…?

Stop.  Steve doesn’t even work there anymore.  You need to rethink this whole thing.

If your data storage contains file after file of old, partial clones of projects, don’t let them just stare at you with their dead eyes.  Get an Engineer, put together a work flow that allows people to collaborate with shared storage and contains mirrors for redundancy to protect you from loss, and everyone who is supposed to has access all the time. You work on a set of files together, so you don’t need to make a copy for yourself that will only be defunct tomorrow.  

Best of all, once you have a work flow that works, you can eradicate all of those weird clones.  Scorched Earth.  Take no prisoners.   And as you plow through them with a proverbial flame thrower, at least for the three seconds it would take to delete them, spare a thought for Steve.  May he not be messing things up wherever he is today.  Amen.