7 Risks of Copy To and Move To (in SharePoint Online)

In my earlier post, I explained what happens when you use Copy To and Move To. CopyMove-Risks

I really like using it, but of course there are some risks too, especially because it is very easy to do.
I have already encountered the first casualties and I assume many more will follow.

So here are some things that I think are a tad dangerous:

  1. Even people with only “Read” permissions can Copy your content to a site they have more permissions to, or to their OneDrive. What does this do for “one version of the truth”?
  2. It is now very easy to Copy confidential content to a location with a completely different audience.
  3. People with Contribute or Edit in your site can Move documents to another site and delete them from your site.
    This has been a recent issue with one of my users. He reported that he had lost a large part of his site’s content and did not know what had happened. Fortunately I found his (200+) documents in the Recycle Bin. They had all been deleted by the same person, in a time span of about 5 minutes. I still do not know if that person had really used the Move option, but it is plausible.
  4. There is no way for you, as a site owner, to see if content has been Copied to a different site.
    You can see in the Document Information Pane if people have deleted content. You could also set an Alert for Deleted Items, so you know quickly if an unexpected large number of documents has been deleted and you can ask the deleter if they have Moved content. But for Copy…no option.
  5. As far as I know, there is no option for the site collection admins to see what has happened, except when documents that have been deleted are mentioned in the Document Information Pane or show up in the Recycle Bin. (Please let me know if you have found how to do it – a third-party tool perhaps?)
  6. You can lose metadata and versions if the target contains fewer than the source. With the new versioning settings the latter will probably not cause many issues.
  7. You can break links as I found out recently. I moved some documents around because I wanted to combine some libraries and I had forgotten these were accessed from Promoted Links. Duh! 🙂

How to counteract:

1. Give everyone only the permissions they really need

Making sure every person has the correct permissions is getting more and more important.
With the defaults for sharing and access requests set to give people “Contribute” or “Edit” permissions accidents with Copy or Move are more likely to happen.
Delve, that shows you potentially interesting information that you have access to, makes this part of site ownership even more important!
I often use an extra permissions set called “Contribute without Delete” which means people can Read, Add and Edit but only the Site Owner can delete content. That reduces the likelihood of content disappearing.

2. Inform users how Copy To and Move To work

If your users know how this works, they may be more aware what they are doing. Perhaps this picture helps to convey quickly what happens.

CopyMove-Versions

3. Inform users of the confidentiality of your content

Always make your site’s audience aware of the confidentiality status of your content. Not everyone may realize that some content (such as new brand names, prices or competitor info) may damage your company, should it fall into the wrong hands.
Tell your audience which content should not be shared and copied, and what the consequences could be if they do, both for the company and perhaps even for themselves.

4. Set Alerts for deleted items

You may want to set an Alert for content that is deleted, so you are warned when you see an unexpected large amount of deletions, for instance. As you can not restore the content someone else has deleted, contact your support team as quickly as possible to restore the content.

Of course I am curious to learn which issues you have encountered, and how you have solved those!

Image by Glenn Wallace on Flickr. 

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10 things to know about Copy to and Move to (in SharePoint Online)

CopyMove-headerOf course you all know a number of ways to move documents from one place of SharePoint to another, such as Open With Explorer*, Content and Structure** and 3rd party tools.

But have you tried the “Copy to” and “Move to” options in SharePoint Online?
(I will use the words Copy and Move throughout this blog as this makes it easier to read…and write)

CopyMove-bar
Copy To and Move To become visible when you select one or more documents

I knew that Copy has been available for some time in document libraries, but only recently I have also discovered Move. So I decided to find out how it works and how I can explain this best to our audience. The Microsoft Help is accurate and helpful, but it does not mention everything.

1. This is only available in document libraries with Modern Experience. 

2. Copy and Move are available for Document, Asset and Picture Libraries.

You can Copy and Move folders or individual documents to other Document Libraries.
You can Copy and Move images from Asset and Picture Libraries, but only to the same Asset or Picture Library or other Document Libraries.
In Pages Libraries, you can only Copy a page and then only to the same Pages Library. This is useful when you want to base a page on an existing one.

CopyMove-Pages
In a Pages library, you can only Copy a page to the same library. No other targets are available.

 

CopyMove-targetoptions
Source and possible target libraries

3. Copy and Move can be done between OneDrive and SharePoint Online and vice versa.

CopyMove-OneDrive
Your OneDrive is always shown as option.

4. Copy and Move can be done between different site collections, unlike “Content and Structure”.

5. What you can do depends on your permissions.

a. To Copy, you will need at least “Add” permissions in the target site.
You will be adding documents, so you will need Contribute, Edit or Full Control or similar.
“Read” permissions to the source site are sufficient in order to be able to Copy content.
b. To Move, you will need at least “Add” permissions in the target site AND “Delete” permissions in the source site, as Move deletes the documents in the source site.

CopyMove-Permissions
The roles you need

 

6. Copy only copies the latest version, Move moves all versions.

This is the same as with Content and Structure, but it does not hurt to mention it again, as this is now available for more users and can have consequences!

CopyMove-Versions
Differences in Copy and Move w.r.t. versions

7. Move keeps the original Created and Modified dates and names.

Copy keeps the original Modified date and Modified By name, but Create date will be now and Created By will be the name of the person who copied. This makes sense, as you are creating a new instance with new Create info.
This can also be slightly confusing, as the Create date can be later than the Modified date.
In the screenshots below, I have used the same Source Library and two different Target Libraries, to show the difference between Copy and Move.
The documents have different dates, people and versions.

First, let us Copy the 3 selected documents

CopyMove-Copy3docs
Version number are 3.0, 2.0 and 5.0, respectively. Different names in Modified By and Created By.

 

This is the result:

CopyMove-3docscopied
All documents have been copied as a new version with the Created date of some minutes ago – while the Modified date is earlier! Created By is me (I did it) while the Modified By is still the same.

 

Now, let’s Move the same 3 documents to a different library:

CopyMove-Move3docs
Now we are moving these same 3 documents

This is the result:

CopyMove-3docsmoved
The original names and dates are in Created By, versions are the same.

 

8. You will receive warning messages in certain scenarios.

a. You Move a document to a target document library that has fewer versions enabled than the source. In this case, document Sharing 9 has 5 versions, the target library 3. You will get a useful warning and the option to stop the process. You do not get this warning when you Copy, as this only copies the latest version.
(This will become less of an issue with the changes in versioning coming up)

CopyMove-VersionWarning
Warning about fewer versions

b. You Move a document to a document library with fewer/different metadata. In this case, I am moving a document that has a Topic column to a target without that. Again, you can Copy it with no warning.

CopyMove-metadatawarning
Warning about different metadata

c. You Copy or Move a documents to a target location that already has a document with the same name.

CopyMove-Titlewarning
You can not Copy or Move when a document or folder with the same name exists in the Target library

9. This functionality is not available for guests.

Guests who want to Copy or Move get an error message, even if they have the correct permissions and see the options. Judging from the error message, the sites shown in the panel are sites you follow and/or have recently visited. As externals have no OneDrive to store their Followed sites, nor Delve to see the recently visited sites, this makes sense.
This may get awkward for long-term trusted external partners, though.

CopyMove-MysteryGuestIssue
Even though the option to Copy or Move is displayed, external users/guests can not do this.

10. The sites that are suggested as targets are based on the Office Graph. 

A good reason to Follow your sites – they show in the targets panel and save you searching. The suggestions are based on the Office Graph and this explains why external guests can not Copy or Move – they have no Office Graph. Thanks to Greg Zelfond for providing me with this info! 

CopyMove-followed sites
What is shown here depends on your Office Graph.

 

My two cents

I am quite happy with this functionality. It is very simple and it will be very useful in case of organizational change or archiving a project.
I now use it all the time when I move instruction and help documentation (that I write using a Word template on my laptop) from my OneDrive to SharePoint. Somehow it feels easier.

However, I would not be me if I did not see some risks. But as this is already quite a long post, I will leave that for next time.

Special characteristics of other ways to move documents

*Open with Explorer
Microsoft help
• Needs Windows on your PC as it opens Windows Explorer
• Needs Internet Explorer 32 bits, does not work with any other browser
• Only works with Classic SharePoint
• Content takes Create/Modify dates and names from the person performing the action and the date/time of the action
• No versions can be copied or moved

**Content and Structure
• Only accessible for people with Contribute or higher
• Only available to copy and move within the site collection
• Only available when your site collection has publishing features enabled

Image courtesy of Baitong333 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SharePoint Holmes and the Continuous Classic View

Sherlock GnomesThe case

“Why can I not set my document library to the New experience?” the user asked me.

“Of course you can, let me show you”, I said confidently.
Over-confidently, as it turned out. Because there was no “Exit Classic View” link bottom left.

Classic-Nolinkbottomleft
Huh? No “Exit Classic View” bottom left of the page.

 

And the Advanced Library Settings showed that the library was already set to display in New experience.

Classic-LibrarySettings
The library was set to display in the New experience

Sigh…I got my SharePoint Holmes hat and magnifying glass out of the cupboard and set out towards…

The investigation

  1. I remembered some other sites which did not display their “Exit Classic View” button. Those all have a banner on top of the page,  a popular feature from our old intranet, that has been migrated to the new intranet.
    I set the user’s page into Edit mode. There was a web part zone on top but there was no web part in it, so that did not give me any clues. Hmmm.

    Classic-Nowebpartontop
    Empty web part zone!
  2. I looked at the other views in the library and those were in New Experience. Huh!
  3. I created a new view and this was in New Experience as well, so the issue was with the default view.
  4. To check my sanity, I did some searching (Yes, I know I should do that straight away but I like to look at things and push buttons 🙂 ) and what did I find?  This.
  5. So, I dove into that Classic View, edited the page, looked at Closed Web Parts…and found a Content Editor Web Part.

    Classic-ClosedWebpart
    There was a closed web part on the page.
  6. I added it to the page, then deleted it and that turned out to be…

The solution

Classic-AfterRemoval
The library now shows in New experience, with the “switch”-link bottom left.

So, there are two options when you can not get your document library to show in New Experience while it is set to be New:

  1. Remove all web parts on the view page, open and closed.
    Set the page to Edit mode.
    If you see a web part, DELETE it.
    If you do not see a web part, click Insert > Tab > Web Parts > Closed Web Parts. If you see one or more web parts mentioned, add part(s) to page, and then DELETE it/them.
  2. Create a new view by copying the old view with a new name, setting it to be the default view if needed, and deleting the old view.
    I must admit this did not work in my own tenant – all views showed and were created in Classic SharePoint. But I have seen this multiple times in our work tenant.

If you want to display a picture, you could also upload one or more pictures and pin it/them to the top.

Microsoft also has some things to say about the Classic vs Modern view. They also mention the influence of web parts (at the end of the article) but the language is not very clear.

About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

Picture from unknown source but it was too funny to let go. See the trailer of Sherlock Gnomes! With Johnny Depp…

Dear user of our intranet

DearUserbyStuartMilesThis morning I received your support ticket.

Many thanks for enclosing the complete email chain with all your colleagues. Apart from a good permissions puzzle, there is nothing I like more than going through a 40-message email chain, and find the hidden clues between the “FYI” and “Can you help” forwards. I am really pleased that you have tried to get help from so many people before logging a call in our incident system, and it is heartwarming to see your colleagues’ empathy and desire to help.

From this wonderful meandering narrative I understand that “editing the Monthly Forecast in the Marketing site does not work”. That narrows down the possibilities, because only 938 of our approximately 15.000 sites have Marketing in the title, so it will save me going through 14.062 sites which are definitely not called Marketing.

Now of course I assume the Marketing site has “Marketing” in its title 🙂

From the company address book I see that you work in the Dairy division, which has 297 Marketing sites, so I can increase the odds even further.

Then it is only a matter of finding a Monthly Forecast document in one of these sites and checking which one does not work. That should not be too difficult: I did a Search and found 6274 hits on Monthly Forecast – it is matter of checking URL’s against the Marketing sites to see which are eligible.

I assume you wanted to edit a recent document so will start from the most recent.

In conclusion, I will check the cross of Dairy Marketing sites and Monthly Forecast docs from the last 2 months, and see which one of them “does not work”. Now of course there are many ways of “does not work”, but do not worry, I will check them all, from permissions to document library opening behavior, checkout, and workflows to corrupted documents.

I have planned about two weeks to go through this and I am quite looking forward to this challenging quest!

However, should you be in a sort of hurry, or have a deadline, please let me know. After all it is the 21st already and I can imagine you will need to update this document before the end of the month. Sending me the URL of the site, the name of the document and the document library/folder it lives in, as well as a description of what you were trying to do and what happened, possibly even with a screenshot of the error message, will reduce the quest to an hour or so. Of course this will rob me of the fun of exploring this all by myself, but I know that this is business-critical content so I can not be selfish.

Looking forward to your information,

Best regards,

The Helpdesk.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SharePoint Holmes and the Embedding Enigma

SH-ObjectDetectiveSmallMy SharePoint Holmes cases are not extremely technical or complicated. Most of the solutions to the issues that I encounter have been amply described in blogs and Microsoft support. So why do I sometimes feel at a loss when I have a new issue to solve?

  • I am still learning about SharePoint Online
  • Users generally do not know what the issue is and they do not use the most precise language. Nobody likes an issue that stops you doing your job and calls for submitting a support ticket, so I can imagine you want to spend as little time as possible on that ticket.
  • As a result, things may have a different cause and solution than I expect from the description. I may think that it is permissions-related (I often do), while it may be PC, browser or document library settings. Or vice versa.

For instance “I can not manage my site” (to me, this sounds like a permissions issue) has meant different things in different circumstances:

  1. “I can not edit my site’s homepage” (because the page has been checked out to someone else – this is a document management issue, not a permission issue)
  2. “I can not manage permissions” (because I am not the owner of the group I want to manage – a permissions issue)
  3. “I can not manage this content in my site” (because this content has unique permissions and for one reason or another I am not in the site owner’s role here  – a permissions issue)
  4. “I do not know how to manage my site” is a training issue

With this SharePoint Holmes series I try to start with the issue as described by the user. As that is not always clear or correct, I sometimes start off on the wrong foot.

The case

“Hyperlinks in a document on SharePoint are not working” the title of the incident read.

Well, “not working” or “is broken” are always great and accurate descriptions that any support person loves to see 🙂 . So I called the owner and asked him to demonstrate the situation.

The issue was with a manual (in Word) that lived in a document library.  The document had some embedded documents as well as some hyperlinks to a company system.

The real problem was: “In this document, the embedded documents as well as some specific links can not be opened – they appear unclickable”

The investigation

    1. I opened the manual – I noticed that the document opened in Online format.
    2. I clicked on a number of links – all links to pages worked OK but I could not open the embedded docs. There was no “hotspot” or “zone” where the cursor showed something clickable.

      SH-Object Online
      The embedded Word document was not clickable
    3. The special links (to a certain system) looked properly configured, but they gave an error message.
    4. I could not find anything strange in versioning settings (no mandatory check out) or advanced settings. The opening behavior was set to “use the server default (open in the browser)” which is standard practice.
    5. I determined to take a better look at the document, because only that document caused the issue. I did not want to make changes to the content, so I downloaded it.
    6. I opened it in Word. The embedded documents could be opened – they had an active window. And I could open the special links too!

The solution

OK, this was easy. I changed the library’s opening behavior to “open in the Client application” and opened the document again. Yes, the embedded documents and the links were now clickable and opened without problems.

SH-Object Client
An active zone appears around the embedded document when opening the document in Word

I can not explain what was happening with the links but they could be opened in the Client software.

This is yet another illustration of the fact that the Online versions of the Office programmes are limited in functionality.

The owner of the manual was happy, but I suggested to upload all embedded documents into the document library and making links to them from the “Master Document”, instead of embedding. If they are in a document library, you can manage and update them online when needed, and the link in the Master document will always lead to an up-to-date document. If you embed the document, it will live on its own and there will be no history of changes or anything.

Which issues with the opening behaviour of document libraries have you encountered? (Apart from my earlier password-protected document case)

Image courtesy of Craig Whitehead on Unsplash.com

SharePoint Holmes and the Haunted Homepage

sphomepage-thumbPart of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it.
As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.

The case

“Oh, Ellen, I think I have done something terrible to my site”, the site owner said, a note of panic in her voice. “I keep getting requests for access, while this is a site for all employees, and I do not know what I have done wrong”.

We had already noticed a number of tickets where people complained that they had lost access to this important site (and it was period-closing time so many people had to upload reports).

My first thought was “I hope she has not clicked “Delete Unique Permissions” when on the site permissions page” because that inherits the permissions from the parent AND removes all unique permissions from the site.
Although I like that as a thorough cleansing option for when you do not know how your permissions are set, in this case it would have been rather disastrous.

SharePoint Holmes to the rescue! I put on my admin cap and ventured into the site.

The investigation

  1. I opened the site. No problems for me, but then I am an admin so I have permissions for everything.
  2. Gear wheel > Site Settings > Site permissions. Phew, “This web site has unique permissions” was still there. So permissions had not been inherited.
    There were a number of groups with a variety of permission sets, including a Visitors group with Read permissions, which included all company employees. That looked OK.
    Of course there were also a few items with unique permissions, but that is not unusual and it hardly ever leads to a sudden flood of support tickets.
  3. I looked at what had been set as the homepage. (Site Settings > Welcome Page). “Homepage_New”.  That made sense.

    SPHomepage-WelcomePage
    You can determine the welcome page yourself.
  4. I checked the Pages library. Yes, there was a page called Homepage_New and it was the page I had seen when I entered the site.
  5. It was time to check the permissions for the Pages library. Aha, “This library has unique permissions” and only the Owners (Full Control) and Visitors (Read) were mentioned. Good idea – you do not always want everyone with Edit or Contribute permissions to manage (and mess up) your pages.

    SPHomepage-Libraryperms
    The Pages library had limited permissions to avoid unwanted editing. But Visitors (Bezoekers) have Read (Lezen) permissions. (I have tried everything to get this page to display in English, not Dutch, but it does not work.)
  6. Then I noticed something in the yellow box: “Some items of this list may have unique permissions which are not controlled from this page”. And yes, one of the pages was “Homepage_New” to which only the Site Owners had access…

    SPHomepage-Pageperms
    The Welcome page had different permissions – in this case only the Owners had access.

The solution

I quickly deleted the unique permissions from the page so at least Visitors could access the homepage again. Then I informed the site owner what had been causing the issue.

So yes, this was a permissions issue, but everyone still had access to the site. It was only the Homepage that was restricted, leading everyone to believe that they could also no longer reach the content of the site.

Tip

When this ever happens to you or your audience, and you expect that you have access to this site (e.g. because you have always had access or you have just been invited), try checking Site Contents.
Take the root of the site (https://company.sharepoint.com/…/sitename/) and then add “_layouts/15/viewlsts.aspx?view=14” to it. Create the link and paste it in the browser.
If you still get an access denied, you likely have no permissions.
If you see the content, it means there is something wrong with the welcome page.

Has this ever happened to your users?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 Tips to avoid overwriting Excel files in SharePoint Online

Overwritten ExcelOne of the myriad changes announced at MSIgnite was the mention that all files in OneDrive will soon open in edit mode directly, so you can work faster.
I hope Microsoft  will wait a bit before rolling that out for SharePoint as, since moving to SharePoint Online, we have had a number of incidents where users have inadvertently overwritten or otherwise messed up a shared Excel Online file, resulting in incorrect data.

I do not quite get how that has happened, as Excel Online files always open in read mode (in Internet Explorer and Edge, in any case, and only very few people have another browser) and you have to specify whether you want to edit in Browser or in Client.
But it has happened more than once, also with people who are quite SharePoint-savvy, so I guess it is a thing. Perhaps it is the “autosave” option when you are in Edit mode, so your changes are saved, even if you do not intend to?

OverwriteExcel-readmode
In my experience, an Excel Online file ALWAYS opens in Read-mode.

This is a major annoyance, as we can not restore a single file from Office365. We can only restore the full site collection…
So more than ever before, prevention is key! Here are a few ideas to prevent and remediate incorrectly overwritten (Excel) files – pick the option(s) that suit your situation best:

1. Adjust permissions

Make sure only those people who really need to edit the file can do that.

How: Go to the library, folder or file and check and adjust the permissions.

2. Set mandatory check-out

If people have to consciously check out a file, they will be made aware they are going to edit it, and they can stop if they do not want that. It does not change the auto-save, however.

How: Gear Wheel > Library Settings > Versioning settings > At the bottom, check “Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited” and click OK.

OverwriteExcel-checkout
How to set mandatory check-out before editing.

This can be a pain for users, as they will have to remember to check the file in when it is finished (and preferably before they go on holiday  🙂 ). On the other hand, a checked out file can not be edited, so it may also be a blessing!
Remember that a Site Owner or site collection admin can always override the checkout or check the file in.
If many people need to edit the file in a short timeframe before a deadline (e.g. end of month), option 7 may be a better solution.

3. Always open the document in the Excel client

SharePoint Online allows you to select the opening behaviour of a file. If you set this to “Client” the file will always open in Excel desktop version, read mode, which will need a conscious effort to edit the file. (Unless you have “Autosave” enabled in your Excel client!)

How: Gear Wheel > Library settings > Advanced Settings > In the 3rd paragraph from the top, select “open in the client application” and click OK.

OverwriteExcel-clientopening
This setting will always open the file in the client application.

Please note there are differences between working in Excel Online and Excel client.

In general, the Online version is limited; it is useful when you just need to make a few simple content edits. The Client version is more powerful.

4. Set versioning

This is remediation, not prevention. Having versioning set means you can restore an older correct version if the current one has been corrupted. By default, SharePoint Online document libraries have 500 major versions already enabled, which should be sufficient. 🙂

How to set versioning: Gear Wheel > Library Settings > Versioning settings > Document Version History > make sure this is set as below (or use a smaller number) > Click OK.

OverwriteExcel-versioning
This is the default setting for all document libraries created in SharePoint Online.

How to restore a version: Select the document > Click version history from popup or command bar > Hover over date and time of version to restore and click the black triangle that appears > click Restore from the popup. Please note this version will be copied to the top as a new version.

OverwriteExcel-restoreversion
In this case, I restore version 4.

For more info about versioning:

10 things I learned about versions 

5. Create a dedicated document library

Options 2, 3 and 4 (and ideally, 1 as well) have to be set for the complete document library in which this document lives. If that is difficult or unpleasant, why not create a new document library especially for this document?

How: Gear wheel > Add an app > Document Library > Specify name > Create.

6. Use a password-protected workbook or worksheet

You can protect your Excel file with a password and only give the password to those people who need to change the data. You may need to rearrange your Excel for that, since you can view a password-protected sheet, but not a password protected workbook, in the browser.
This is never my preferred option, as I think we have SharePoint permissions for this scenario, but in some cases it can be useful.

How: Open the file > click File tab > Info > Protect Workbook > select “Encrypt with Password” (for the complete file – if you want to open in the client) or “Protect Current Sheet” > add password and options > OK.

OverwriteExcel-password
Here you can also protect your workbook or -sheet

 

7. Turn this Excel file into a SharePoint list

This can be a good option if your Excel file is relatively simple and does not contain complicated calculations or relationships between sheets etc.
You can use the SharePoint list to collect the data, export the data into Excel and do your advanced data processing in Excel.  In case of many people having to process data before a deadline, e.g. end of month, this method is preferably over mandatory check-out of a file as everyone can work on their own lines without having to wait for others or messing up other people’s data.

How: The simplest way is to use the Import Spreadsheet app.
Then create good views so your audience can view or edit their data according to their needs with the least amount of hassle.
I have streamlined a lot of processes in this way, check out my Business Examples.

8. Instruct your users

Once you have taken your measure(s) of choice, let your users know how they should work with the file. For instance, how to disable Autosave in their Excel client, or how to properly check out and check in.
Add the info on your site’s homepage, create a document that you pin to the top of the library, record a short demo, etc.

OverwriteExcel-pindocument
You can pin the instructions on top of your library so people can not miss it.

Have you had this issue as well and if yes, how are you trying to prevent it?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net