My Thoughts for Living Digitally at “Home”

My home folder, I didn’t want to share how big it is. It’s local because I don’t currently have a remote file share that can sync my MacBook’s files. But I should though in case of failures…

You may have heard the phrase “home directories” in some capacity in enterprise tech.  I have strongly felt your home for your files should live somewhere else not just your computer.

In modern computing since the beginning of the 21st Century, files are stored in a specific and systematic matter. The directory typically is in a matter of the physical disk, a folder, then a follow up folder such as your name or username or login handle, whatever phase works best

Hard Drive > Users > login handle

In your “home” is the following folders where you keep your digital belongings:

  • Documents
  • Desktop (the clutter on your background can be seen as a folder too)
  • Downloads (most browsers know this is a preset folder and by default will automatically keep downloaded files into this folder
  • Music (for iTunes and other music players)
  • Movies (home video captures, etc.)
  • Pictures (a landing pad for photos exported by any digital camera or smartphone)

Some operating systems like Windows also keeps technical information like saved settings in Application Data, and in the Mac OS, in the “Library” folder

For a networked environment, (without going into details), they can ether be synced at a set time every interval of time that can be configured by a systems administrator, or be stored entirely off the machine, and or leaving them locally.

Companies like Disney or Facebook, have openly stated that they could care less what’s in the user’s home directories. At the recent MacAdmins conference at Penn State, the Facebook guy stated because their company, most of their users do things remotely, that little things like notes, some cat photo or some child’s report card (I’m inserting these in that guy’s words) are not important and encourage users to use cloud based platforms.

Here’s where I find it wrong. Most of these sysadmins are picking and choosing responsibilities. This is where they refuse to take personal responsibility of protecting ALL data and then deflect it on the users and say it’s “YOUR responsibility”. From a legal standpoint, there maybe a business document or something that someone forgot to make a copy on the network drive, and as a result if the laptop gets damaged, the “end user” will go “shucks” while the cocky, arrogant IT admins will say

“Tough bananas, it’s your fault that you didn’t do the right thing by using the network share. Not my problem”

-your arrogant IT guy 3 floors down

Most sysadmins in the IT field refuse to care for the users, as they feel bombarded, and do not like to be around people period. Their demeanor from the MacAdmins kinda confirms it. And this is an Apple related conference, and a-holes running the Macs were rare. Now all the Windows donkies are managing Macs. Or the uber arrogant Unix admins too.

The problem is there is complexity, and each operating system makes it easy or complicated. For an example Macs lack the ability to choose a folder and then manually create a sync schedule. Windows (for users who may or may not be part of an Active Directory) could manually redirect their home folders to any network that was allowed to. Macs do this much differently, and in fact it requires UNIX geekery to make changes and hope it will work. If you’re not into scripting, and you don’t have a legacy Mac server with Workgroup Manager, and if you even tried to get Profile Manager to work… great!

\\Server\Share Disk 2\Users\Steven

Accessing a file share using Windows Explorer where in this type of address you can change the location of your home folders if you have a large file server elsewhere at home

unc://clickfodc2/Share Disk 2/Users/Steven

For enterprises using Active Directory, and their deployment scripts, use the address scheme for the Universal Naming Convention. Similar to above, the longer name ensures for seamless compatibility for other operating systems that may be storing the files.

Home folders shouldn’t store everything.  If you shoot in HD video and DSLR quality photos – you can easily go over 30 gigs instantly. It should have the metaphor of a USB thumb drive, small, lightweight, to carry what you used to have in your cube that was paper if you did some administrative work. It should be your digital locker to hold non work, or non job related tasks; meaning if a coder has to write some letter to his superior about something, and he needs someplace within the company’s legal control (Dropbox shouldn’t count), then he should have the ability to store it locally, replicate it onto the file share and in case he spills Coke on his laptop he can still be able to have a copy incase the hard drive fails.

  • Established companies need to enforce network or replicating home directories for isolated disaster recovery and for legal compliance
  • For the office, it stores cat photos to letters to management, to notes about their job
  • For less than a size of a thumb drive, 20 gigabytes would be sufficient.
  • It’s the IT department’s responsibility to protect all data at every level.
  • Blaming end users for what they may feel is a frivolous file, may be valuable to the worker.
  • People need a place to stay to keep digital stuff and know it will be protected. Give them the option of local home directory, network only, or replicating mode (syncing) Giving them a single option with no level of backup is just insane for the “professional” whose job is to protect all data at all costs.


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