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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Microsoft Briefcase

One thing I didn't mention in my last post (Portable Applications) was Microsoft Briefcase. Briefcase has been around for a while, but I never got around to figuring out what it was before the other night. Basically, Briefcase allows you to carry around copies of documents and synchronize them when they are updated. It's very easy to use and doesn't require anything other than Windows Explorer to use (it's built in).

My wife carries some work documents on a USB thumb drive so that she can easily work on them from multiple locations (home and two different offices). She didn't really have a backup strategy for the documents so if she lost or broke the USB thumb drive, many hours of work would be lost. She didn't want to use a full backup solution because of the complexity (plus the range of options to choose from). When I found Briefcase, I was pretty sure this would be a good solution for her.

To create a Briefcase, simply open Windows Explorer to the directory you want to create it in (probably your thumb drive), right-click in the empty area to bring up the context menu, expand the New menu, and select Briefcase. Once the Briefcase is created, you can drag the documents you want to keep synchronized into it. You can view the documents in the Briefcase from Windows Explorer and open them just like you would any other file. When you want to synchronize the Briefcase, simple right-click on it and select Update All. It brings up a window that shows you the files that are being synchronized and which file is being overwritten.

Here's the KB article from Microsoft if you want to learn more.
How To Use the Briefcase Feature in Windows XP

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