Document Management

Working with files

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Computers store documents (and everything else) as files. Working with files is an unavoidable essential element of working with documents on a computer. You can take the bucket approach and keep every file in the one location, which works fine until you have more than a dozen or so files and it becomes hard to quickly locate the file you're after from the others in the bucket. Once you collect a few tens of files, the bucket approach to filing becomes untenable.

For paper based documents, the filing cabinet was invented. For computer based documents, the file system is the electronic equivalent to the filing cabinet. Most often, filing cabinets are ordered alphabetically so that you can find what you're after by looking in the folder of the alphabetical letter you're looking for. Likewise, some order needs to placed upon the files in the computer so that you can find them later.

Microsoft Windows has come a long way towards helping users with their file storage needs. Each login user has their own personal storage space with an outline folder structure to start with, completely customizable to whatever the user desires. Windows Explorer is typically (and by default) divided into separate panes with a pictorial hierarchical tree-like folder structure displayed in the left pane, and the contents of the currently selected folder displayed listed in the right pane.

Windows Explorer not only lists and displays the folders and files on the local drives in the computer, but can also display the shared files and folders located on other computers connected to the same network. These are displayed in the 'Folders' pane tree under the branch named 'My Computer'. In this way, you can work with files on your local computer, which are physically stored on a remote computer, and visa-versa.

Some computers function solely as file servers and have the task of storing huge numbers of files and serving them as requested to other computers on the same network. File servers connected to the internet are known as web servers. They can deliver any kind of file, however, are usually restricted to HTTP and FTP files.

The more recent versions of Windows now allow you to perform FTP using Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer. They treat an FTP site as a URL and display the files on the site as they would display the files on your local computer. You can now drag-and-drop or cut, copy and paste files between FTP sites and your other drives and folders. See Jump down to subject FTP URL syntax.

Windows Explorer lists and displays the folder locations of file servers and web servers in the 'Folders' pane tree under the branch named 'My Network Places'. You can manually add links or shortcuts to these network locations, including FTP sites. See Jump down to subject How to add network FTP site folders to 'My Network Places' in Windows XP.

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To add network FTP site folders to 'My Network Places' in Windows XP

This procedure was written and tested on Windows XP (SP2) and will likely be valid for later versions as well, however has not been checked or tested on later versions of Windows.

  1. Obtain the network address to the FTP site including user name and access password.

  2. In 'Windows Explorer' tree view, right-click on 'My Network Places' and select Properties.

    The 'Network Connections' properties window will display.

  3. In the 'Other Places' panel, select My Network Places.

    The 'My Network Places' properties window will display.

  4. In the 'Network Tasks' panel, select Add a network place.

    The 'Add Network Place Wizard' will display.

  5. Click Next.

    The 'Add Network Place Wizard' will check for available networks, resulting in the option to choose another network location, web site, or FTP site.

  6. Click Next.

    The 'Add Network Place Wizard' will request a valid URL.

  7. Browse to or enter the URL of the network FTP site you wish to add to 'My Network Places'.

    For an explanation of FTP URL syntax, see Jump down to subject FTP URL syntax.

  8. Click Next.

    The 'Add Network Place Wizard' will test the URL and if valid, will supply the URL as the address name.

  9. Edit the name to suit your requirements, and click Next, then Finish.

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FTP URL syntax

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Universal Resource Locator (URL) syntax is the exact structure you need to use to gain access to an FTP site for file transfer. The URL syntax for accessing an FTP site is:



Element Description
ftp:// required syntax notifying use of file transfer protocol
<username> placeholder for authorized user name with access to ftp site (do not include brackets)
: required colon to separate username from password
<password> placeholder for authorized password of user with access to ftp site (do not use brackets)
@ftp. required syntax linking user with ftp site
<FTPaddress> placeholder for ftp site address (e.g.
/ required forward slash to separate ftp site address from sub folder
<FolderStructure> placeholder for sub-folder structure to navigate to the folder you want (e.g. Topics/WorkstationSetup)
/ required trailing forward slash to indicate end of folder structure
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See Also

Jump to site home page Lotech Solutions' Tips, Tricks, and Procedures

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