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A shared folder is no substitute for DAM software

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Shared folders are no substitute for digital asset management. Send them into the cloud.The shared folder is a tempting, easy fix for providing widespread access to digital assets. All you need to do is put all of your assets into a shared folder on the company network and—presto!—there they are for everyone to use. It's such an easy-sounding solution that many a company falls into the shared folder trap. However, once they realize that shared folders don't allow for effective management of their assets, and that it's not as cost-effective as they had hoped, they usually switch over to real DAM software.

Shared folders are a poor substitute for good digital asset management programs for a number of reasons. Some of the main arguments against using shared folders to manage digital assets include:

  • Lack of security — Where’s the security in using shared folders? A corporate image library deserves a lot more security than the weak barriers associated with this makeshift solution. It wouldn’t take a skilled hacker to compromise a shared folder, nor would it be difficult for disgruntled (or careless) employees to make you regret taking measures so lax. Avoid being the victim of thievery and accident by using a digital asset management system that incorporates much better security measures and control over digital assets. 
  • Lack of replication measures — In the simplest sense, “replication” refers to back up. Simply placing a shared folder on a server does little to protect you from the effects of losing your assets to attack, natural disaster, or other hazards.
  • Necessity of IT investment — Use a shared folder for assets and expect higher costs for the IT department. Whether hiring more IT people or having current IT personnel manage shared folders for digital assets, the costs will probably be higher than going with a software as a service DAM system. Why use IT people to help manage assets when their skills are needed for overall optimal network performance? They will probably be constantly struggling with ways to store assets, dealing with user complaints, and wasting time in their permanent challenge of making it easier to use the shared folder. Since all of these issues have already been figured out and incorporated into quality DAM systems, it's much easier and more cost effective to go that route.
  • Version control problems — A shared folder can make it very difficult to effectively manage different versions of the same asset. This is in great contrast to DAM systems designed to easily manage several versions of the same asset.
Shared folders are no substitute for an actual DAM system. Request a demo of Widen software-as-a-service DAM to see how easy and effective a quality DAM system is.


Naresh Sarwan offered his thoughts on this post at digitalassetmanagementnews.org. While Sarwan was a bit critical of the post, his main problem seemed to be that we didn't focus on the right (or most persuasive) arguments for abandoning a shared folder system in favor of DAM software. Instead, Sarwan writes, we should have focused on repurposing, search capability, web integration and metadata.

We understand the criticism, but our intent with this post was to focus on the ways that DAM software—in a broad sense—is generally superior to simply sharing folders on a local netork. The attributes of DAM software that Sarwan says we should have focused on don't necessarily exist across all DAM platforms, and even when they do, they aren't executed the same way by every DAM provider. Certainly these functionalities are important and worth examining, but we think it makes more sense to focus on them in the context of a search for the right vendor, rather than in the context of decisions about whether to implement DAM at all.

Further, the DAMNEWS piece seems to take local network firewalls for granted, when, in fact, we've seen plenty of organizations sharing files with little or no security at all (frightening as that might sound).

In any case, we appreciate Sarwan and DAMNEWS' offering their two cents on our post. We're glad that our content is sparking a discussion about what's best not just for DAM vendors individually, but for the industry at large. This has always been progress we've valued deeply, and you don't need to take our word for it. We've been consistently recognized as an industry leader in producing materials that help to inform the marketplace, and we're sure this isn't the last time Widen content gets people talking.

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