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Sharing information

Different ways of sharing documents and other information. Which is for you?

Got a document, graphic, spreadsheet or just a thought you want to share with clients or co-workers? Learn five easy ways to share information and the benefits and challenges of each.

1. E-Mail

E-mail is quick, easy and you're probably already familiar with how it works. Using Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 to send and receive e-mail works great for sharing thoughts, issues and questions. Attaching files to e-mail is a great way to share documents and larger amounts of information than e-mail messages alone can handle. Share files you think co-workers might find useful, or ask co-workers to review the file and send it back with their edits.


Easily exchange information

People can get back to you on their own time

Share information with many people at once

Have a record of your communication


May not get an immediate response

Some companies have limits on the file sizes you can put in your e-mail, making it difficult to share large files

Requesting reviews of a file from multiple people can be difficult in e-mail. You would get back multiple versions of the document with different comments and changes in each of them

Some recipients refuse e-mail attachments, especially from people they don't know, due to concerns about viruses and spam

2. Instant Messaging (IM)

When you want an immediate response, you're probably looking for a conversation, and that's exactly what IM provides - a two-way electronic conversation. With IM programs such as Microsoft Windows Messenger and services such as MSN Messenger, you can interactively ask questions and share your thoughts, as well as instantly tell if someone is online and available to talk. You even control how your online status appears to others.


Real-time text, data, audio, and video sharing

Communicating quick questions and answers

Saving time knowing when co-workers are available

Sending messages on Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs and Smartphones


Sharing complex or large amounts of information

Documenting your communication

Use of public IM services do not log or encrypt data transmissions

3. Shared Workspace Sites

A shared workspace site is probably the most convenient way to collaborate on documents and projects. Using a shared workspace site in Office 2003, you and co-workers can share and make comments on documents, maintain lists of important information - such as tasks, related sites, and contacts - and keep each other up to date on the status of a given project. You can even receive e-mail alerts to be notified when items (such as the status of a task) are changed. You can access shared workspace sites whenever you're connected to the company network.

Note: Windows SharePoint Services in Microsoft Windows Server 2003 are required for you to set up a shared workspace site.

There are also two specialised shared workspace sites you can use: Document Workspace site and Meeting Workspaces. Once these shared workspace sites are set up, you can open them in any web browser or in the Shared Workspace task pane in Microsoft Office Excel, PowerPoint and Word 2003.

Document Workspace sites: With this type of site, you and your team can find the documents you're supposed to comment on, as well as announcements, assigned tasks, links to related websites and other relevant information you need to complete your task.

Meeting Workspace sites: Centralise all the information and materials you are going to use in a meeting. You and your co-workers can visit this share site for the most up-to-date information and materials, whether the meeting is still in the planning stages, taking place right now or has already occurred.


Have one version of a file that everyone can view, modify and add comments

Consolidate feedback in one file

Set up a shared location to store team and project documents

Keep shared calendars

Manage file revisions

Have one view of the status of projects and documents


Requires IT support to set up and maintain Windows SharePoint Services

Co-workers not on the network won't be able to access the shared workspace site

4. Using Fax Services

Why print a document just so you can run it through a fax machine? With fax services available in several Office programs, you can connect with your PC directly to a fax service provider that will send the fax for you - and you never have to print your document. If your work requires faxing a document - such as a contract for signing, a purchase order for approval or registration form - fax services makes it much more efficient.


Share large files

Keep archives of file for reference

Give many people access to a file


Using file shares to work together on documents. It's difficult to make sure two or more reviewers aren't making conflicting changes.

Working in highly secure environments where access to file shares is rigidly controlled. Some co-workers may not have access.

5. Storage Devices (CDs, DVDs, Floppy Disks and USB Devices)

Sometimes the simplest way to share information is to simply copy your file onto a storage device and hand it (or ship it) to someone. It's a handy way to share presentations, digital photos, videos and audio files with your work colleagues and clients or to carry files between work and home. If the recipient isn't on a network, or the file is really big, sometimes it's still the best way to go. Floppy disks can only handle smaller files, but you can put much more on a writeable CD and more still on a writeable DVD.

Another option is a Universal Serial Bus (USB) storage device, which includes very small USB flash drives. They enable you to store and move files between a computer and device that has a functional USB port. They can usually hold as much information as hundreds of floppy disks could. In addition, some of the devices offer password protection to help safeguard your information.


Works well when you or your co-worker is disconnected from the internet or doesn't have access to e-mail

Sharing larger programs and files, as well as collections of files (such as pictures and songs)

Taking information with you when you're working away from the office

Quick file transfers between disconnected computers


Getting quick feedback or comments on your files

Consolidating feedback from several people

Distributing files to many people at once

Newer computers might not have a floppy disk drive

Floppy disks have file size limitations

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