By Caitlin Burns, DocsCorp Content Manager.
Looking for more information on cleanDocs Server for metadata management? Our team of solution experts answered the most commonly-asked questions about the application’s functionality, user experience, deployment, and integration below.
- What does cleanDocs Server do?
- Which types of files can cleanDocs Server process?
- What email traffic does server-cleaning cover, and who does it protect?
- What kind of email traffic is cleanDocs Server suitable for?
- How fast is cleanDocs Server?
- What happens if one of our cleanDocs servers goes down? Will it still be able to run effectively?
- Do the sender, internal recipients, and external recipients see the same email?
- How does the synchronization of ‘Sent Items’ work?
- Will our staff see any pop-ups or alerts if we use cleanDocs Server?
- How do users interact with the optional alerts in cleanDocs Server?
- What happens if a user doesn’t respond to an alert?
- Can users skip metadata cleaning of documents sent from mobile devices?
- How does cleanDocs Server handle different groups within the organization?
- Is email recipient checking available in cleanDocs Server?
- Is DMS integration available?
- Is Outlook integration available?
- Is cleanDocs Server datacenter friendly?
It protects email users from accidental data leaks by removing over 100 different kinds of metadata from the attached documents. This includes Track Changes, embedded objects, author properties, editing time, and more. No matter where the email is sent – desktop, mobile, tablet – cleanDocs Server will clean metadata before the documents attached can leave the organization.
cleanDocs Server processes the most common document types, including:
- Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations
- PDF documents
- RTF files
- Files inside attached email messages and ZIP archives
- Image documents (JPG and PNG)
- Password-protected files
It covers ALL outbound email traffic. This includes emails sent from mobile devices, Outlook Web Access, and any other email-enabled application, making it essential for people who work remotely or on the road.
cleanDocs Server can handle metadata cleaning for thousands of users, and hundreds of thousands of emails every hour.
cleanDocs core servers are super-fast, able to handle thousands of email attachments per hour (assuming a typical 80/20 split, where hundreds of attachments are being sent externally = thousands of emails flowing through Exchange during the same period).
cleanDocs Server does minimal processing at precisely the right spot, resulting in no noticeable delays to email delivery. Email cleaning is transactional, and off Exchange servers to avoid increased load, leading to simplified, stateless processing.
Where High-Availability (HA) and Fault Tolerance (FT) are required, cleanDocs core servers can be load-balanced for maximum efficiency. cleanDocs Server will work with any standard network load-balancer.
Q: What happens if one of our cleanDocs servers goes down? Will it still be able to run effectively?
Traffic will be redirected by the load-balancer to other cleanDocs servers when a server error is detected. cleanDocs Server also has its own Health Monitoring service to monitor and restart core services.
Yes, cleanDocs Server synchronizes the cleaned email with the user’s Sent Items folder, so they have an identical copy of the email the recipient receives. cleanDocs Server processes the email before it’s delivered anywhere, so both internal and external recipients receive the same final attachments.
cleanDocs Server adds the sent email (with the cleaned attachments) back to the sender’s Sent Items folder. Due to the way mail flows within Exchange, this is not immediate - there is a minor lag of no more than a minute or two. Outlook stores the email in the user’s Sent Item folders before passing it on to Exchange as it is not expected to change. We add special instructions to Exchange to save the cleaned copy back to the originating mailbox and synchronize the user’s Outlook.
Alerts are an optional feature of cleanDocs Server. If no alerts are defined in the cleaning policy, attachments are just processed and sent without requiring a user response. This means the metadata cleaning process is entirely invisible to staff.
However, we have found that applying a blanket cleaning policy for all emails and preventing user intervention doesn’t suit every organization. Many users will have legitimate reasons as to why they need the ability to make cleaning decisions in real-time.
So, cleanDocs Server ships with default optional alerts based on typical business demands. Administrators can then tweak these settings to meet their organizations’ needs.
cleanDocs Server offers both reactive and proactive ways for users to interact with and influence the cleaning process, and the Administrator can tailor them to the organization’s needs.
Reactive – the cleanDocs Server ‘Alerts web application’ allows users to interact with the cleaning process if certain conditions are met (such as Track Changes are detected) and make cleaning choices according to their needs for that specific email.
The web app runs under Microsoft’s Internet Information Services (IIS), and access to it requires an internet connection. When a user receives an alert over email, a link takes them to the web app to interact with the cleaning service. There are several types of alerts, which can be configured separately:
- Metadata cleaning alerts (e.g., leave or remove Comments and Track Changes)
- Document alerts (e.g., password encryption)
Proactive – the proactive way for users to influence cleaning is to include a pre-configured email address. For example, including firstname.lastname@example.org can be mapped to convert attachments to PDF. Similarly, email@example.com can be defined to let users skip cleaning attachments when needed.
This step must be done when first sending the email but is fully configurable by the Administrator. Being an email address, mobile users won’t need to remember complicated codes.
Sometimes users won’t be able to respond to alerts (e.g., when sending an email before boarding a plane). In cases where cleanDocs Server doesn’t receive a timely response, it resends the notification later, this time including the Administrator. Administrators can process emails on the sender’s behalf.
The number of notifications, the interval between notifications, and the Administrator’s emails can be defined per organization unit. This makes it easy to have different settings for different departments and to have different people responsible for different groups.
cleanDocs Server can be pre-configured to take specific actions if there is no response, such as best-effort cleaning, no cleaning, or stopping the email and bouncing it back to the sender.
Yes - with cleanDocs Server 1.6 and later versions.
A user can include a pre-configured address (determined by their Administrator) to override the default policy. For example, an Administrator can configure firstname.lastname@example.org, that if included as a recipient, will cause cleanDocs Server to skip cleaning the emails.
Similarly, they can configure a email@example.com, that if included, tells cleanDocs Server to use the Publish policy and convert the attached documents to PDFs. (The email addresses are examples and not real ones).
cleanDocs maps settings to Active Directory groups. In situations where a user might belong to several Active Directory groups, cleanDocs Server processes each group in the order they are defined. At the first match, cleanDocs Server applies those group settings for the user.
- Bob works in Litigation. When he sends an email with attachments, cleanDocs Server checks first if he is in the Directors group (no), then if in the Litigation group (yes). Since a match is found, cleanDocs Server uses the Litigation group’s policy and settings.
- Alice is the Finance Director and belongs to both the Directors and Finance groups. However, since the Directors group is checked first, those settings apply to her. The rest of the Finance group will receive the Finance group settings.
- John works in Administration, which doesn’t have any unique settings. For his emails, cleanDocs Server checks each group in turn, until it reaches the [Default] group at the bottom and applies its settings. For this reason, the [Default] group must be the last one defined in the file (as it’s the last group to be checked).
Tip: To move a group up and down the list of Defined Groups > select the group > click the arrows next to the list. Order the groups carefully to get optimal group resolution.
Not yet. At this stage, email recipient checking is only available in cleanDocs Desktop. As such, it is recommended to use cleanDocs Desktop and Server together for the most complete protection against data leaks.
One of the features of the cleanDocs Server solution is hybrid cleaning. When an organization deploys both cleanDocs Desktop and Server, users who send emails with Outlook will already have made cleaning decisions about their emails at the point of sending.
Such emails can be cleaned directly in Outlook, so users benefit from full interactivity and control. Alternatively, cleanDocs Desktop can operate in a Clean on Server mode (enabled via the cleanDocs Configuration Manager). This is effectively hybrid cleaning - it collects users’ choices in Outlook, but processes emails on the server. This gives users full cleaning options via cleanDocs Desktop’s user interface but doesn’t introduce even a second of delay into their workflow.
In this scenario, cleanDocs Server checks that an email has been processed by cleanDocs Desktop (this can include the user choosing to ignore cleaning). If this is detected, cleanDocs Server does not hold up the email and lets it proceed without delay. If an email contains instructions gathered by cleanDocs Desktop’s Clean on Server, it will process the attachments according to those choices.
Only if an email comes from a mobile device or another mechanism that did not involve cleanDocs Desktop will the server submit the attachments to be cleaned.
In this way, cleanDocs maintains a rich user experience and minimal email delivery impact while still providing for a secure organization-wide solution for metadata management.
No, integration with document management systems is only available with cleanDocs Desktop.
Yes, when operating in the Clean on Desktop mode. This offers the full cleanDocs Desktop experience (including DMS and Office integration), but with email cleaning done on the server.
Yes, cleanDocs Server is proven to be datacenter friendly through allowing load-balancing multiple server instances to support High-Availability, Fault Tolerance, and Disaster Recovery requirements.