ASIS&T 2014 Annual Meeting 
Seattle, WA | October 31 - November 5, 2014

File Synchronization and Sharing: User Practices and Challenges

Robert Capra, Emily Vardell, Kathy Brennan
UNC School of Information and Library Science, United States of America

Sunday, Nov 2, 3:30pm


In this paper, we present results of qualitative analysis of a set of 16 interviews of faculty at a large university regarding their use of file synchronization and sharing technologies in their work and personal lives. We discuss key problems and considerations that influence users’ file synchronization and sharing practices, and describe commonly used strategies. Our findings suggest that while access and synchronization methods have evolved as technology changes, users make extensive use of familiar patterns of access, including automated and manual methods. We found several factors that influence users’ choices of methods for synchronization, including privacy and security concerns, data size, institutional policies, and knowledge of systems. We present insights about how boundaries and data separation affect synchronization practices, and about specific synchronization issues users faced when collaborating. Our findings extend research on personal and group information management practices and provide insights to help develop synchronization and sharing systems that better fit users’ needs.