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Issues with Google Docs (in Google Apps) as a file server solution for startup

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I'm having trouble with "google docs for google apps" for a new startup. I want the equivalent of a shared fileserver for employees.

Here are the issues:

0) Sharing collections within a google apps domain doesn't make them appear for other users. A workaround is to create a single root collection, under which all other collections exist. The idea is that you only need to make sure a new user becomes aware of the one thing.

1) Files in a shared collection sometimes don't show up for other users. I believe it's if the ownership of the file originally rested outside the domain. But it's hard to see what files won't show up, short of clicking on each one to look at ownership.

2) Trying to work around #1, there's no easy way to change file or collection ownership if it originally came from outside the domain.

3) I can't get the shared "root collection" to remain on a user's docs view. It doesn't show up as a "collection shared with me", and the user also can't drag the collection to their "My collections" list (has no effect).

4) sometimes users still can't access files I share with them, and can't add them to their collections, even if I share them directly. I just can't figure that one out at all.

5) Google doesn't provide any support beyond occasionally-monitored forums, even for paying customers, unless you have real downtime, making it hard to figure out #1-4.

I don't seem to be alone... several of these issues are discussed in a number of apps forum threads, but with no resolution. e.g. http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Google%20Docs/thread?tid=7bcfcce456a744af&hl=en

Anyone have best practices that avoid these issues, or is this just a bad use of google docs for apps? I'm really worried that with the lack of support and list of issues so far, I would continue to hit weird problems.

I'm finding myself lusting after an anti-cloud, "old-school" MS SBS on-prem solution, which is really disappointing.

Answers

Okay I had the same problems. Here's what you do.

Create a folder structure under your google apps docs account. For example

Admin Website Library Meetings WIP

Then select ONE folder by ticking the box next to that folder. Then edit the sharing settings and manually add one person in your domain and click "send this person an email"

Once they get the email, open the email and take the link from there. Give that link to everyone on your domain.

Now get everyone to click that link, it will open the folder. What you now need to do is favourite the folder by clicking the "star" that's next to the title.

That folder is now saved under their favourites in the google docs view.

Rinse and repeat.

Finally, make sure that you have configured your domain in the google apps management console such that documents are shared by default to everyone on the domain.

Good luck, let me know if you have problems. I searched for ages to get this working so I know your frustration

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