synchronize file, how to synchronize file using windows briefcase, tips, guide
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How to synchronize files between two or more computers?


Windows uses the Briefcase utility to synchronize copies of the same file on more than one computer. When you place a file in a briefcase, the program automatically compares the contents of that file with a master copy of the same file, and synchronizes the two versions.

To use Briefcase, you must identify one computer as the master computer that stores the master version of the document or other file. This is the version that every other computer uses to synchronize changes. If your network includes a file server, the server is the logical choice as the master computer. The laptop or other secondary computer is the slave.

You should be aware that Briefcase can replace an older version of a document or file with a new version, but it can't combine changes when both versions have changed. Therefore, it's essential to use Briefcase to synchronize the two versions before you make any additional changes. For example, if you edit a document on your laptop computer, you must update the version on your desktop to match the one on the laptop before you make any new changes to the document on your desktop.

You can connect slave computers to the master computer through a network, through a direct cable connection, or by physically moving a copy of a file from one computer to the other on a removable drive such as a flash drive, or a USB drive. There are three stages to working with Briefcase. They are create a new briefcase on the slave computer, move the files you want to synchronize into the briefcase, and update the files.

Creating a briefcase

Follow these steps to create a briefcase in the slave computer:

1. From the Windows desktop or within a folder in My Computer, right-click and select New Briefcase from the pop-up menu. A New Briefcase icon appears.

2. If you have more than one briefcase, use the right-click Rename command to give each briefcase a unique name.

Moving a file into a briefcase

To move a file into a briefcase, follow these steps:

1. Use My Network Places on the laptop or other secondary computer to open the folder that contains the master copy of the document or other file.

2. Open the briefcase on the laptop or other slave computer.

3. Drag the file you want to edit from the original folder and drop it into the briefcase.

4. If the slave is a laptop or other portable you can disconnect it from the network now.

To edit the document on the slave, open the document from within the briefcase. To edit the version on the main computer, open it from the original folder.

Updating files

To synchronize the edited version on the slave with the master version on the main computer, follow these steps:

1. Open the briefcase on the slave.

2. To synchronize all of the files in the briefcase, choose Update All from the Briefcase menu or the toolbar. To synchronize one or more specific files, select that file or files and choose Update Selection.

3. The direction of the arrow in the file listing shows which version replaces the other version. In this case, the Modified version in the briefcase replaces the Unmodified version in \\Desktop computer. If you want to restore the copy in the briefcase to the unmodified version, right-click the listing and choose the arrow that points in the other direction, as shown in Figure 40.3. To replace a file, click the Update button at the bottom of the window.

You can also use Briefcase to synchronize files on computers that are not connected through a network. For example, if you have been working on a document on your office computer, and you want to take a copy home with you on a floppy disk or a flash drive, you can use Briefcase to keep both versions up to date.

Tip: If you use Briefcase a lot, you might lose track of which computer contains the most recent version of a file or document. To check the status of a file in a briefcase, right-click the icon, choose Properties, and open the Update Status tab. If the two versions are the same, the Properties window shows the status as Up-to-date. If the two versions are different, you can update the unmodified version from within this window.

If you use Briefcase with removable media, please follow the steps below:

1. Connect a flash drive to the computer that contains the documents you want to take with you.

2. Open the flash drive in My Computer and right-click to create a New Briefcase from the pop-up menu.

3. Open the briefcase.

4. Use My Computer to open the folder in a second window that contains the file you want to take with you.

5. Drag each file you want to copy from the original folder to the briefcase. An icon for each file will appear in the briefcase window.

6. Remove the floppy disk or disconnect the flash drive from the main computer.

7. When you arrive home (or at some other remote location), insert the floppy disk or connect the flash drive to the second computer.

8. Use the second computer to open the briefcase and edit the document or other file. When you are done, use the Save command to store the file on the removable media.

9. Remove the floppy or flash drive and take it back to the first computer.

10. Insert the floppy or connect the flash drive and open Briefcase.

11. Use the Update All or Update Selection command in Briefcase to synchronize the version of each file on the removable media with the original version on the main computer.

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