Within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central there is an option to either attach a document or link to a document. If you're not sure like many other people which to use, or whether or not to use both options, by the end of this article hopefully you'll have attachments vs links clarity.
What's a Link?
A link is a way to access a file located outside of the Business Central database. Clicking a link takes your to a web page or an intranet page such as a SharePoint page. This feature is available in both on-premise Business Central and online Business Central.
What happens if the link changes? Well, within Business Central you can add an unlimited number of links, and if a link were to change periodically you can update and maintain these links as needed.
What's an Attachment
With an attachment you are taking a file, uploading a copy of that file into the Business Central database, and attaching it to a record. There's no limit to how many attachments you can have or what type attachments you can have. Some examples could be a signed Purchase Order from a customer, a tax exemption certificate, or a price sheet in Excel. Also, this feature is available in both on-premise and online Business Central.
Once a file is attached to Business Central it becomes a fixed attachment and cannot be edited. I know what you're thinking, "If it cannot be edited then how come I can open the file and select edit?" You are correct. You can open the file, select edit, and make changes. However, when you save the file the system creates a new file and will require a different file name to be saved.
You can also attach a file using Business Central's Incoming Documents feature. However, these files will not be included in the Attachments Tab. What's the Incoming Documents feature you ask? That's a great question! The Incoming Documents feature works like this, let's assume that someone scans in a PDF file into Incoming Documents. You can then open up the Incoming Documents page in Business Central, select that link, select the new document button to create for example, a new Purchase Invoice with the file attached to the document.
Attachments vs Links: Where in Business Central can they be used?
Both attachments and links can be created on customers, vendors, and items. Attachments can also be used on purchase and sales documents. On Warehouse documents, production documents, and service documents neither attachments or links are available.
Does this feature eliminate the need for product like Zetadocs Drag and Drop?
The answer is yes and no because it depends on what features you need. Adding attachments and links within Business Central is straight forward and doesn't really have any advanced features that go along with it. A product like Zetadocs adds more capabilities to attachments and links. For example with Zetadocs Drag and Drop, you can drag the file directly into the Business Central attachments tab and do not have to upload the file. Zetadocs integration with Business Central does this automatically for you. This means less keystrokes are needed by you which directly translates into more time saved. Zetadocs will also improve the archiving and searching of these documents because of their use of SharePoint.