Problem: Many laboratories generate thousands or even tens of thousands of files of important data which are frequently disorganized and scattered among multiple computers throughout the lab, and even on laptops that end up outside of the lab. Maintaining a complete history means a constantly expanding collection of information, and locating data at a later time is often a challenging task that involves multiple issues including locating the correct computer. When there are multiple versions of the same file, it is often very difficult to distinguish which is the desired one; in many cases, a critical file may have been overwritten.
In addition, an increasing number of laboratories collaborate with others, leading to the challenge of sharing specific data both inside and outside the institution. While e-mail can be utilized for this purpose, keeping track of different versions of data can be very difficult, and many files are too large for e-mail servers to accept.
Solution: File management and sharing software can make dealing with all that data much easier in the lab. For example, LabArchives uses the latest computer technology to provide a web- (or local server)-based software application specifically designed for the storage and organization of laboratory data. In its “hosted” form, LabArchives can be implemented immediately without the need to purchase hardware or install any software. All that is needed is a computer (Windows, Mac, or Linux) and an Internet connection. Much of this software, including LabArchives, also works on iPads and Android devices.
Management software such as Lab Archives also allows each user to customize the organization of their data by dividing it into folders, subfolders, pages, and entries. Each level of information can be viewed by authorized users from anywhere in the world, and every entry is automatically date- and time-stamped by a trusted third-party application (National Institute of Standards and Technology). Furthermore, this software prevents data deletion. For example, no data can ever be deleted from LabArchives Notebooks, and every version of every file is stored securely and redundantly. Instant “Google-like” searching is provided with the software as well, including the ability to locate words in files such as PDFs and Office docs.
Data is stored on multiple-redundant secure servers to ensure complete reliability and nearly 100 percent uptime. If desired, notebooks may be downloaded to local devices for additional copies.
LabArchives Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN)
File management and sharing software includes administrative tools that enable simple sharing of selected information. Users of the notebook(s) may have access to both private and shared information. When collaborating outside of the lab, access may also be granted to specified parties.
This management software can also make using automated equipment in the lab much simpler. LabArchives’ optional Folder Monitor utility, for instance, provides an easy-to-configure mechanism to ensure that all generated files are transferred directly to the appropriate notebook. Folder Monitor for Windows is included with a LabArchives subscription.
Compatibility with other software is an important part of many file management and sharing systems. For example, LabArchives includes a builtin “Office Suite” of products, enabling users to create and edit documents that are fully compatible with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint even without having these products on their computers. As with all data, software like LabArchives maintains versions of all edits to these documents.
For more information, visit www.labarchives.com