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SUMMARY

This article explains how to use the Briefcase feature in Windows XP.

Using Briefcase

The Briefcase feature in Windows XP helps you keep your files updated by automatically synchronizing multiple copies of individual files. In other words, Briefcase keeps track of the relationship between files on two or more computers. For example, if you use a desktop computer at the office, and you use a portable computer when you are on the road, Briefcase synchronizes and updates the files on your desktop computer to the modified versions when you reconnect your portable computer to the desktop computer.

Briefcase stores and displays the update status of files. It keeps track of whether a file is linked to the original file on your main computer, or whether it is an orphan file (a file stored in Briefcase that is not linked to another file). You can use this information to keep your files organized and to keep track of the most recent versions of your files.

Use Briefcase when you use two or more computers to work on files, and when you need to frequently transfer files between computers by using a direct cable connection or a removable disk.

How to Create a New Briefcase

  1. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
  2. Click the folder in which you want to create a new briefcase.
  3. On the File menu, click New, and then click Briefcase. The new briefcase is created. To open the briefcase, double-click it.

    If you want to create a new briefcase on your desktop, right-click an empty area of your desktop, click New, and then click Briefcase.

How to Use Briefcase to Synchronize Files on Two Computers

  1. NOTE: The following steps assume that you use a desktop computer as your primary computer and a portable computer as your secondary computer.

  2. Connect your portable computer to your desktop computer.

    You can connect your computers either over a network or by using a direct cable connection.
  3. Start Briefcase on your portable computer, and then drag the files or folders that you want to work with from your desktop computer to Briefcase.

    NOTE: Before you copy folders and files from your desktop computer to Briefcase, the folders containing the files must be shared.
  4. Start Briefcase, and then make the changes that you want to the files.
  5. When you have finished working on the files, reconnect your portable computer to your desktop computer (if they were disconnected), and then start Briefcase on your portable computer.
  6. Do one of the following:
    • To update all files, click Update All on the Briefcase menu.

      -or-
    • To update only some of the files, select the file or files that you want to update, and then click Update Selection on the Briefcase menu.
  7. The Update dialog box is displayed. Confirm the update action on the files or folders that are displayed in the dialog box, and then click Update.
The files on your desktop computer are updated with the modified versions of those files in Briefcase on your portable computer.

How to Use Briefcase to Synchronize Files Stored on a Floppy Disk

  1. NOTE: The following steps assume that you work with a desktop computer as your primary computer and a portable computer as your secondary computer.

  2. Insert a floppy disk into the floppy disk drive on your desktop computer.
  3. Start Briefcase, and then copy the files or folders that you want to work with from your computer to Briefcase.
  4. Drag Briefcase to the floppy disk.

    The files and folders in Briefcase are copied to the disk.
  5. Remove the floppy disk from your desktop computer, and then insert the disk containing Briefcase into the floppy disk drive on your portable computer.
  6. Start Briefcase from the floppy disk, and then make the changes that you want to the files.
  7. When you have finished working on the files, remove the floppy disk from your portable computer, and then reinsert it into the floppy disk drive of your desktop computer.
  8. Start Briefcase from the floppy disk, and then do one of the following:
    • To update all files, click Update All on the Briefcase menu.

      -or-
    • To update only some of the files stored in Briefcase, select the files that you want to update, and then click Update Selection on the Briefcase menu.
  9. The Update dialog box is displayed. Confirm the update action on the files or folders that are displayed in the dialog box, and then click Update.
The files on your desktop computer are synchronized with the updated versions of those files in Briefcase on the floppy disk.

How to Check the Status of Files Stored in Briefcase

  1. Start Briefcase, right-click the file that you want to check, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Update Status tab.
    • If the Briefcase file and its counterpart outside Briefcase (the original copy of the file on another computer) are synchronized, an Up-to-date icon is displayed.
    • If the Briefcase file and its counterpart are not synchronized, a Replace arrow is displayed. The arrow points towards the copy of the file that requires updating.

      Click Update to synchronize the files.

      The file stored in Briefcase and its counterpart outside Briefcase are synchronized.

How to Split Files Stored in Briefcase from Their Counterparts

When you split a file stored in Briefcase, you separate the Briefcase copy of the file from its counterpart outside Briefcase. The resulting orphan file stored in Briefcase can no longer be synchronized.

To split files stored in Briefcase from their counterparts, follow these steps:
  1. Start Briefcase, right-click the file that you want to split, and then click Properties.
  2. Click the Update Status tab.
  3. Click Split From Original, and then click Yes when you are prompted, to prevent any future updates of the file.
  4. Click Close, and then quit Briefcase.
The file is now an orphan.

Troubleshooting

  • When you attempt to synchronize a file, you receive the following error message after you copy it to, and edit it, in Briefcase:
    File name is an orphan. It was not updated.
    This behavior can occur if the original file was moved. Briefcase keeps track of the original location of all the files that you copy to Briefcase. However, it cannot track the files if they are moved to a different location. After you move a file on the primary computer, the file stored in Briefcase becomes an orphan file, and therefore it can no longer be synchronized with its original counterpart outside Briefcase. This is the case even if the file is moved back to its original location.

    To resolve this issue, first rename the modified version of the file, and then copy the original file to Briefcase. Open and save the modified version of the file with the same name as the original file that you just copied to Briefcase, and then delete the orphan file.

  • Use the following guidelines to determine which Windows XP feature to use when you work with synchronized files:
    • Use the Briefcase feature if you typically transfer files between computers by using either a removable disk (such as a floppy disk) or a direct cable connection.
    • Use the Offline Files feature when you work with shared files on a network.


REFERENCES

For additional information about the Offline Files feature in Windows XP, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
307853 How To Use Offline Files in Windows XP
For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
314512 Synchronize Mobile Devices and Desktop Computers with Synchronization Manager
For additional information, click the article number below to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
312171 Configure Offline Files to Synchronize When a Particular Network Connection Becomes Active

Properties

Article ID: 307885 - Last Review: September 23, 2011 - Revision: 4.0
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Keywords: 
kbenv kberrmsg kbhowto KB307885

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