How to effectively use Zoho WorkDrive to collaborate with external users

How to effectively use Zoho WorkDrive to collaborate with external users

Zoho WorkDrive is a powerful and secure team cloud storage. Zoho WorkDrive offers excellent intra-team collaboration, but also collaboration with external users (people not part of your organisation). However, there are a few things to consider.

When you wish to share documents or folders with people not part of your organisation (licensed users of WorkDrive in your organisation), you need to create an external link. See the animation below on how to do this.

When you create the external link, you first give the link a name. This is for your reference only - in case later on you decide to audit the external shares, you can identify by name if the share is still valid.
Next you will be able to set the permission level:
  1. View - can only view files and folders (and their contents)
  2. Upload - can only upload files
  3. Edit - can upload files and edit Zoho Workplace files
Files in formats that are not Zoho Workplace cannot be edited, as it requires an editor other than the Zoho Workplace editors such as Sheet, Show, and Writer. To be able to edit these files (for example Microsoft Office Excel, PowerPoint, or Word), these files need to be converted to their Zoho counterpart first. This can be done by users that are part of the organisation (not by external users).
Next there are a few toggles with options for you to choose:
  1. Set password - this allows you to set a password which you can distribute to the external users. Before they can access the shared folder, they will need to enter this password.
  2. Set expiration - if you want to share the folder only for a set time period, you can set an expiration date for the link. After this date, the link no longer provides any access to the folder.
  3. Allow downloads - if you want to disallow downloads of files to the external users personal computer, disable the Allow downloads toggle
  4. Request user data - this is useful if you want to capture who uploaded or edited a file. You can ask users to provide their name, email address, and/or phone number.
External users cannot create or delete files, create or delete folders. They can edit Zoho Workplace files (if Edit privileges are enabled) and upload new files and new folders. If a new folder needs to be created by an external user, they can choose New, and then Folder Upload.

Collaborating on Workplace files

As we have seen above, only Workplace files can be edited online collaboratively. The organisation member can convert this document to a Workplace format by opening it, and click Open in Writer - this will create a copy of the Word document in the Writer format.

The external users can access the document and make edits (if the Edit privileges are granted in the external link. As track changes are enabled, you can see who made what change.

On the top right of the writing area, the users that made changes are identified. If you do not capture any details (such as Name) of the external users, they will be identified as Guest. It is therefore recommended to capture the name of the external users.
Of course, the WorkPlace user can create Workplace files directly, so the other formats do not need to be converted. As an organisation user, simply click New, and select the application of choice to create a spreadsheet, presentation, or document file.

  1. Writer - create a Document
  2. Sheet - create a Spreadsheet
  3. Show - create a Presentation
When the files are done, they can be converted to PDF, or Microsoft Office format for download and distribution.

When external users download a document, and edit it offline, then re-upload it, the system will create a new document (i.e. document.docx is downloaded, edited, and re-uploaded - the system will create a new file called document (1).docx). 

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