File management with workplace Google docs
September 16, 2018 7:46 PM   Subscribe

My employer is strongly pushing for us to do everything on a workplace Google Docs account. Should I still keep backups on my personal computer?

I work for a large school board. I have a significant collection of resources I have collected, purchased and so on. I regularly get new ones shared by colleagues or otherwise acquired. School wants us to do everything with Google Docs. While this does facilitate easy sharing with coworkers and has some advantages, I’m womdering if it still might be wise to keep personal backups. If I ever move to a different board, I’m worried it will be a huge pain to get back all my stuff. On the other hand, if there is a simple way to bulk download my whole thing, I’d be duplicating a lot of effort by keeping two sets of files. What is the best practice here?
posted by ficbot to Technology (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you’re worried about losing acccess to the stuff if you change jobs, can you share it with a personal google account? Then you should have access (unless the new owner removes yours, which may or may not be likely depending on how much your organization has its shit together.)

I do not keep back ups, and I use google docs for work. That seems like extra unnecessary work. The whole point of cloud based docs is to avoid that.
posted by greermahoney at 8:05 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

If it's your stuff, keep your personal Google account as the owner and share it to your work account.
posted by canine epigram at 8:10 PM on September 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

if there is a simple way to bulk download my whole thing, I’d be duplicating a lot of effort by keeping two sets of files.

There is indeed a simple way to bulk download everything from a Google Docs account, and in your position I would certainly be doing that every month or so, and maybe having the occasional poke around inside the downloaded archive to make sure everything I really cared about was still in there.
posted by flabdablet at 10:15 PM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I cannot tell if you purchased these items with your own money or if you or your current employer/school board owns the docs or you do. If they own them and you move to a different board, I do not understand why you would be taking them with you. IF they are yours, have your own backup either on disk, hard drive or in the cloud that is separate and distinct from current employer. They are yours after all and you should not risk being cut off from access.

This is about ownership of the docs. If you own, back up, back up, back up. If they own them, follow their lead.
posted by AugustWest at 12:06 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm of the view that you should always keep back ups because you don't know when you might suddenly lose access. Same principle as keeping a paper trail and documenting everything. It's not about redundancy but - bluntly - CYA.
posted by ahundredjarsofsky at 12:41 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would definitely keep backups. My daughter's school has her using Google Docs, and it won't print to our printer. GD insists on trying to print to an old, broken iteration of the printer, and I haven't been able to erase that and replace it with a working version in GD. All other programs print normally.

I have no confidence in Google or any other online service to protect my data. Disc storage is cheap insurance.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:56 AM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]

Google Drive also has local sync: shared files, but you have current copies of everything mirrored locally. This will go away immediately you lose access to that Google account, though.

So if it's your stuff, you need to have your own external or network backup drive. If it's your stuff on an employer's computer, they don't have any responsibility to keep it safe (and would likely much rather it wasn't there to avoid licensing issues). If it's stuff you've received from various people while working for $employer in order to do work for that employer, it's not your stuff.
posted by scruss at 9:24 AM on September 17, 2018

This sounds like a potential ownership/rights issue to me. If you're purchasing resources, are you purchasing them for your individual use, or for the school board's use? If they're bought for your own use and you're sharing them, you might be in violation of user agreements, exposing not only yourself but also the school board to liability by letting them use them and thus breach that agreement.

If you're buying them for the school board's use, are you using your own funds, or the board's funds? If it's your own funds, you should document this and either seek reimbursement from the board or at least reach an agreement with the board regarding ownership and use. If it's the board's funds, then you have no legal claim on the resources and can't take them with you.

If rights aren't an issue - say, free online resources - and you want to keep copies so you can easily take them with you, I'd create a personal online storage account and keep the copies there, so they'll be available to you anywhere, anytime. The problem with keeping backups on your work pc is that they're not accessible from elsewhere, and in a worst-case scenario (say, a termination where you're given fifteen minutes to clean out your desk) you might not have the time or ability to copy them to a backup drive.
posted by Lunaloon at 10:24 AM on September 17, 2018

Rights aren’t an issue. Board will and has reimbursed for hard copy resources which obviously stays with the class. Electronic resources, they don’t pay for. And several colleagues told me they prefer to buy with their own money precisely because they intend to keep it :-) I make a lot of my own stuff as well, as do most of my colleagues. Those are things we share amongst ourselves.
posted by ficbot at 1:12 PM on September 17, 2018

Seconding Lunaloon on rights, especially after your update. Personal purchases shared from colleagues are unlikely to be licensed for classroom use. A local college was recently dinged for something similar (making handouts from shared ebooks) and the rights settlement with the publisher was large enough that college services were cut and some teaching contracts couldn't be renewed.

Given that Drive has audit/compliance functions, the best place for your backups would be far from school computers.
posted by scruss at 11:43 AM on September 21, 2018

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