Document Duplication: How Users (Struggle to) Manage File Copies and Versions
ASIST 2011 Annual Meeting
New Orleans, LA, October 9-12, 2011
In personal document management, a common problem for users is handling file and folder duplication. Duplicates can be created deliberately (e.g. creating different versions of a document to preserve a history) or inadvertently (e.g. copying a file to a USB drive and then back to a different location). Users must spend time and effort to consciously and manually manage this duplication, or they run the risk of losing or overwriting data. This study of 73 knowledge workers combines a snapshot of their file system with a questionnaire about their document management practices in order to understand their document management structures, strategies and struggles. We find that current personal document management systems (i.e. the file systems built into modern Operating Systems) do not provide adequate support for managing file duplication. We explore the systems that users have developed to work around this deficiency and suggest some guidelines for the design of more effective document management systems.
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