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Beginners Guides: Synchronizing Files and Folders
Beginners Guides: Synchronizing Files and Folders  - PCSTATS
In this article we will explain the process of file synchronization and show you the two major methods of synchronization within Windows XP.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Sep 21 2004   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Methods of synchronizing files in XP

Windows XP includes a couple of different methods of synchronizing files between multiple computers. Offline file synchronization (which is only available in Windows XP Pro, not the Home version) has been around through several incarnations of Windows and offers good functionality, while the 'briefcase' app is a little more user friendly but more limited in scope.

User-friendly is important here, because as we mentioned, the Windows help files on offline file synchronization are difficult to follow unless you already know what they are talking about. For example, nobody actually mentions that you can only make files available offline if they are on another computer you are networked with. Obvious if you think about it, but extremely confusing at first. Never mind, explaining things like this is what PCstats.com is here for!

Note that the procedures we will be outlining below assume that all computers you will use are correctly set up in a single network, and can communicate with each other. If you need help setting up a network, see PCstats' Guide to Networking first. We cover synchronizing files over the Internet with a remote network later in this article.

Using the Windows Briefcase

We will start with XP's 'briefcase' app, as it is a simplified version of the file synchronizing method which is extremely easy to use. The concept of this application is a digital briefcase which can be moved from computer to computer via floppy or USB memory key (or on a laptop). It holds copies of all the user's current documents, and allows you to work on these files away from the computer on which they are based. Upon returning the briefcase to the original computer, you can update any files which have been changed.

Basically, the briefcase creates offline copies of all of your files which can then be moved to any other system and worked on. Returning the briefcase to your original system allows you to update your files with any changes you made while away.

A good example of where the briefcase app would be useful: You work in an office on a desktop PC. You also have a home computer which you often use to edit files from the office after hours. You could create a briefcase on your work PC and add all the files you are currently working on.

At the end of the day, you copy this briefcase onto a floppy or memory key and cart it home with you. You can now work on the files in the briefcase at home as normal.

When you return to work the next day, place the disk or memory key back into your work computer, open the briefcase and select 'update all.' Any changes you made to the documents in the briefcase will be carried over to the original files on your office computer.

The briefcase application will not work over a network. It can be copied over a network, meaning you can move the briefcase onto your laptop via a network, but the briefcase application itself will not update files over the same connection. Ultimately, the WinXP briefcase is most suitable for a single user who wishes to carry his or her files with them in an easily updateable form.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Synchronizing Files and Folders
 Pg 2.  — Methods of synchronizing files in XP
 Pg 3.  To use the WinXP Briefcase
 Pg 4.  Using Offline Files For File Synchronization
 Pg 5.  To share folders
 Pg 6.  Over a Network

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