Office 2013 is Microsoft’s first big push into integrating Office applications and Office files into “the cloud.” As such, there are a few options you might want to be aware of to ensure you maintain the same file management settings you’ve been using in the past.
By default, Office 2013 applications ask if you want to save any document to the SkyDrive as the first option. SkyDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution, and opens up new opportunities for collaboration, sharing documents, and accessing needed files from anywhere. Saving files to the cloud BY DEFAULT also opens up a new can of worms for security-minded businesses; by allowing your employees to do this on each machine now means that, at a minimum, you have to perform additional vendor management. If you’re forced to perform that vendor management after your employees are already saving documents to the SkyDrive, is the tail wagging the dog? The best thing to do is to have a proactive discussion about cloud storage and put a policy in place stating the financial institution’s stance.
If your institution has decided not to use SkyDrive or cloud storage options in general, then the first place to address this is at the firewall. Speak with your firewall vendor about what options you have to block access to SkyDrive and other cloud storage options, such as Dropbox.
Remember: Office 2013 actually offers each user the option to save to the Sky Drive by default; however, if you prefer to eliminate this option, then there are a couple of ways to disable SkyDrive. At the most basic level, you can disable it on a machine-by-machine basis when you install Office. You can also remove this functionality across a large set of devices via the Group Policy Editor.
Remove Sky Drive as default Save option in Word:
When choosing to save a document in Office 2013, it does not open up the “Save as” dialog box but instead opens a screen where you can decide whether you want to save the file on the local hard drive or on your SkyDrive. This may provide the user with more options than your security policies allow. To correct this, open Word and follow the changes below. Making this change in Word should adjust the behavior of all Office 2013 products (Excel, Power Point, Outlook, etc). Here are the steps:
- Start at the “Save As” screen.
- Chose “Options” on the bottom left.
- Check the option “Don’t show the Backstage when opening or saving files”
- Remove the check from the option “Show additional places for saving…” (sometimes listed as “Always show Sign in to SkyDrive”).
- Place a check on the option “Save to computer by default”.
While this is a relatively quick and painless process on an individual machine, it can become a hassle if you plan to implement Office 2013 across a large number of workstations. In these cases you may wish to use group policy to enforce a configuration. If you have used group policy before, the settings are pretty easy; however, if you have never used group policy before, then please have your IT provider perform these changes. Making changes to group policy without an understanding of how it works could lead to no change taking place or could even cause a disruptive network event.
Disabling SkyDrive by using the Group Policy Editor
To begin, open the Group Policy Editor on your domain controller. If you do not see the settings below, then you will need to download the latest ADM files from Microsoft for Office 2013.
- The settings can be found under User Configuration > Administrative Templates > Microsoft Office 2013 > Miscellaneous.
- Select the “Block signing into Office” option in the list of settings.
- In the Properties window, click “Enable” and select the option “None Allowed.”
Using SkyDrive or Office 2013 and SkyDrive are legitimate choices. But it should just be a choice you choose, not adopted by default. With more applications taking advantage of cloud based technologies, this is just one of many applications that will presume access to cloud based storage or products is acceptable for all. Before upgrading any software, read the update or release notes and when possible, install it on your machine first. And lastly, keep these two points in mind when installing software going forward: 1) It’s always easier to add features later than to remove them after the fact. 2) It’s easier to make decisions about what is acceptable and what isn’t if the institution has well defined policies.