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Shared network drive: How it works and what to look out for

by Canto  |  January 5, 2021

3 min. read
A data representation digitally.

Shared drives are a popular way to store, search and grant file access to team members. Instead of an individual having ownership, a shared network drive puts files in the hands of entire teams. Regardless of whether a colleague leaves a company files remain in one place and accessible to a variety of users. Here we look closely at what a shared network drive is, common pitfalls and how they impact a team.

What is a shared (network) drive?

A network drive allows users to instantly grant access to shared files from one computer to another. A shared network drive operates on a Local Access Network (LAN), a collection of devices operating in a physical location like an office. But these drives have their issues and often lack accountability or file tracking capabilities. Let’s look at a few problems related to a shared network drive, and pain points to be aware of.

a security lock

Shared network drive security

Administrative tools control the majority of security options with shared drives, but if users are not aware of how these work it can cause security risks. In large teams, access is often granted to several members. Establishing best practices when granting user rights is key to avoid the wrong information being shared.

3 human error security risks:

  • Incorrect user access granted
  • File name and storage errors
  • Best practice ineffectively shared

Often busy teams are not in sync when it comes to two-step authentication options and encryption features on shared drives can be limited. Be aware of how passwords are created and stored by teams and ensure you utilize any security options. Because work email accounts and log-on details are often linked to shared drives the potential for viruses is increased. Understand the secure file sharing methods available and consider this in relation to your business needs.

multiple question marks

Search functionality limitations

Being able to find files not only allows teams to work efficiently and in sync, but it also decreases human errors that can be costly for a business. One of the best ways to keep track of files, who is responsible for uploading them and granting access is metadata. Unfortunately, shared network drives often don’t provide users with the keyword and geotagging functionality they might need when handling large volumes of files. Good metadata management helps teams function and automates manual tasks to save time. A consideration to keep in mind in relation to your shared network drive.

Duplication and document management

It’s not enough to know where key files are being stored, they have to be accurate and up-to-date. Working on an outdated version of a file is frustrating, costly and time-consuming. It can also lead to serious legal issues and be embarrassing for a company if publicly shared.

Assets like brand logos and images that reflect the diversity of your business can be lost to old files considered new because they were stored incorrectly by a user. This can be damaging to your long-term business.

3 issues caused by document mismanagement:

  • Copyright issues
  • Inaccurate business decision making
  • Key information is lost


In the modern age out of office access to key files coupled with instant communication is vital for success. In short, teams need to be able to work from the same page in real-time to be effective.

Cloud storage options allow team members to work in-office and remotely. They improve productivity and provide heightened security with encryption, metadata and watermark options. Keeping track of the latest file upload is made easier with edit, comment and a multitude of user access options that can include expiring links. Storage is also increased. Consider a digital asset management solution or cloud-storage as a better way to share files.