I have a scenario where a user uploads documents to a system.

the user selects from their hard drive a document. This is added to a screen where the user can add meta data to the file (first upload stage)

The user then clicks upload where the original file and its metadata are added to the system (the second upload stage)

The user may be uploading many files at once

the system must prompt if there are duplicate files at the first upload stage and highlights the duplicates so the user can either a)remove from system b)proceed with second upload stage and overwrite *any existing files

my question: when is the best time to prompt for validation? As early as possible? Should the user be prompted at all and do you think the system should just overwrite the existing files with caveat dialogue along the lines of "any existing files will be replaced"

4 Answers 4


You should ask for validation before doing any operation that is irreversible.

If all your operations can be reversed (e.g. you are storing previous versions of files and folders) then you don't need to ask.


I would say that as soon as the expected action of "uploading" is triggered by the user, you should inform them that there are duplicate files. This is the common behavior among various operating systems, and thus something most users will be familiar with. I would say the common "yes, yes to all, no, no to all, cancel" system would work great.

Ex. dialog:

enter image description here

The above sample dialog appears on XP when a paste or drag-and-drop has just occurred.

If you would like to avoid user interaction at all, you could also certainly just inform the user that "duplicate files will be replaced".


I will try to simplify : * Consider situation : User is allowed to upload multiple files.

Solution for duplicate files :

  • Let the users upload all files, allowing them to even upload the duplicate file.

Once all files are uploaded, in your grid view,

  • let the new same name files have a name format of "ABC(2).extension ". So user understands immediately there is a double copy of one file.

  • highlight the duplicate files with a pop-up or a tooltip next to it showing message " duplicate entry "or relevant text

  • give user the option to delete file.

This way will be easier to implement by keeping it simple & less confusing .


Situation wise an alternate can be suggested : If you providing multiple upload file at once - you could let it get added to the list and could specify a format such as ' ABC(2).PDF' to the file and add a tooltip surround it or give a message like pop-up over the new same name file - so user basic or advanced will immediately understand. Also you can provide a option to delete..

  • That is one massive run-on sentence. Could you possibly break it down into complete thoughts? It's kind of hard to follow. Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 19:54

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