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In a traditional Windows Server 2003 environment with AD, we have shared a folder for our policy documents (MS Word). These documents get edited/updated now and then by the administrator(principal of college). Users only have read-only access to the folder, but they can still save-as and then change the content.

Sharepoint is a possible solution but not easy to implement. We also thought of using a CMS on Linux and installing Joomla to let users only view the docs with a document management system... but is it possible to automatically retrieve the policy folder on the network and convert or put it in a format that users can only view and not copy?

We also thought of saving the docs to secure pdf format but the principal wants an automated system. Basically she just wants to work in Word and the policies must be available to staff members on the network.

Any ideas? Much appreciated.

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What leads you to believe that sharepoint is difficult to implement- especially if you are even thinking about something like Joomla? – Jim B Mar 18 '10 at 21:16
I've worked a lot with Joomla and never with Sharepoint. So far everybody says it's a "mission" to implement. – Alexander Mar 18 '10 at 22:09
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Use the built-in Information Rights Management to restrict permissions.

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+1, the only downside to this would be that if you're using XP you'd have to install the RMS client. – Ward Mar 18 '10 at 21:12
Thank you all for answering. Will give IRM a go. – Alexander Mar 18 '10 at 22:06
@Reaces Thanks kindly for updating the link, much appreciated! – Mark Allen Mar 19 '15 at 18:24

Do staff members EVER need to modify any documents, ever? If they don't, you could give them a copy of Word Viewer, instead of just Word.

If they need to actually modify documents (just not the documents on that folder), then obviously this won't be suitable.

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What version of Word?

We still use 2003, and the "Protect Document" capabilities would do what you want.

  • From the Tools menu, select Options
  • Select the Security tab
  • Click the Protect Document... button
  • Select Read Only as an editing restriction
  • Add an exception for the person who updates the documents

We do the same thing with some policy documents, have them on a share that's read only for most, writable by the few people who can update the docs. We don't worry, though, about anyone making their own copy and making changes, because what would be the point? The "official" copy is the one on the network, so any differences in a local copy wouldn't be valid.

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How about using a second shared folder for the staff and have the principle save PDF versions of the docs to that?

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PDF files can be edited... It's just more common for people to have Acrobat Reader. – Chris S Mar 19 '10 at 0:34

You should consider not using Word documents at all for this kind of thing. Presented with a similar scenario I opted for digitally signed PDFs created from the Word docs. Any tampering will be evident.

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