Perhaps the single biggest issue we encountered during our office move last weekend had more to do with moving files than it did with bringing a new office onto our network. Furthermore, this particular issue was one which we’ve encountered before, and it was also one for which we didn’t have a readily available solution. In a nutshell, we ran into major problems attempting to move or copy Mac files from a UNIX server onto our new network and a Windows server.
I’ve run into this problem in the past, and it’s never fun. The problem lies with the ability of Macs to use characters not allowed by Windows, characters such as the slashes, bullets, and parentheses. When you run into hundreds or perhaps thousands of filenames extending deep into many levels of subfolders, it’s not an easy thing to clean up. Attempting to move or copy the files from one platform to the other results in either failure or truncation of the original filenames, neither of which is an acceptable outcome.
In our company, I’ve been lucky enough to have a Studio Department which has recognized this issue and taken steps to correct it. When IT has attempted to police this problem in the past, we’ve met with limited success. When the policing effort comes from within, as is the case with our Studio Department which is made up of hardcore Mac users, the other users tend to listen. As a result, we’ve pretty much eradicated the odd characters internally, and this hasn’t been a huge issue for us – which may also be the reason I didn’t think of it prior to this move.
What I wish I had done was send our Studio folks in ahead of our move to explain our internal processes, especially regarding the file naming conventions, and to encourage a general cleanup of files prior to our move. If we had done this, we would have had about 30 days to prepare, and we could have at least had the current jobs named correctly and ready to move onto our new systems. The solution we ultimately came up with involved maintaining the old network, connecting their old server to a Mac and a PC in a common area. We asked the users to do the cleanup of the filenames, and then utilized USB flash sticks to move the files onto the new network.
In any case, it was a valuable lesson re-learned, and just another one of those issues we can sometimes take for granted when we live in a cross-platform environment.