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  1. #1
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    Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    I've just started using W2K on my laptop and hoping for some advice as to the virtues of offline files v's briefcases, which I've used in W98.
    Briefcases are ok, except they seem to crash easily. Are offline files more stable?
    I actually copy all my docs from my laptop c drive onto an external usb drive. With briefcases, I can copy 1 from the c drive onto the usb drive, work on a synch'd file at home using another pc, then resynch that briefcase to the server when I return.
    It's a bit complicated but ensures I can always get at the file & tell which is the latest version. Hence I'd like to know where the offline files are kept, so I can take them on the usb drive.
    Is there a facility with offline files to check which versions are being over-written (as happens with a briefcase) so I can ensure I don't overwrite a good file with a dud?
    Thanks in anticipation.

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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    David,

    I've just trying to decide whether to use Briefcase or Offline on my desktop. I've never used either. I noticed you did get any responses, but I thought you might have tried things out and have an opinion on the subject.

    For my laptop, I haven't been using Briefcase, but I was going to start. The Help instructions are pitiful. In Help it says:

    "Briefcase stores files and displays their status. For instance, it can show you whether a file is linked to the original file on your main computer, or whether it is an orphan file. " If I want to synchronize My Documents, for example, is Briefcase a folder that I would contain the My Documents Folder? Or do you just add a Briefcase to My Documents to mark it as needing to be synchronized. Do you do the same thing on both computers.

    This isn't a reponse to your question, but I'd be interested in your thoughts.

  3. #3
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    I can offer some comparisons that may help...

    The biggest difference is the behaviour when you have a network connection. In this case Offline Folders will access the file on the network, briefcase will access the one in the briefcase. This makes a big performance difference if you have a PSTN or other slow connection. It also makes a difference if multiple people attempt to access the same network files at the same time. With offline files they will get an immediate access conflict, with Briefcase they won't know till the second one tries to synchronise.

    Because of these differences I have generally preferred to use Briefcases - but they are much more buggy than offline files. I frequently have to deal with "orphans" and with files that claim to have changes at both ends.

    StuartR

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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    Stuart,

    Thanks for the info. It sounds like I need to use Briefcase. So now the $64K question is how to set it up. I've gone to the Help info. It doesn't shed much light on the subject.

  5. #5
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    To create and use a briefcase...
    <UL><LI>Right click somewhere that you want the briefcase created.
    <LI>New > Briefcase
    The briefcase will be created with the name New Briefcase
    <LI>F2
    <LI>Type the new briefcase name
    <LI>Enter, to confirm the new name
    <LI>Enter again - to open the briefcase
    <LI>Click OK to get rid of the annonying dialog box
    <LI>Right click on the network folder that you want stored in your briefcase
    <LI>Drag to your briefcase and choose "Create synch copy"
    <LI>Wait till it has finished
    <LI>Edit files in the briefcase as you wish
    <LI>When you want to re-synchronise, open the briefcase and choose Update All or Update Selected from the Briefcase menu, or the right click menu, or the toolbar.
    <LI>You will get an opportunity to confirm the direction of copy for each file where there is a difference between the network and your briefcase
    <LI>Sometimes the briefcase will claim that both files have changed, even though you know that you didn't change anything - life is like that <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    <LI>If you want to create new documents in the briefcase then you can save to the briefcase from an application, or move a document to the briefcase with a right mouse drag, you can't copy files to a synchronised folder in a briefcase.[/list]That should be enough to get you started.

  6. #6
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    Great! Thanks.

    Now why couldn't Microsoft write it like that?

  7. #7
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    Hi Cathy,
    Since posting my question, I got used to using offline files & found them excellent THEN we upgraded our linux/samba server and offline files don't work anymore, so I only use briefcases! :-(
    BUT
    - Briefcases seem VERY flaky! MS seems to make a very fragile database of your files, which often crashes.
    - It would be VERY brave to synch your whole MY Documents folder, if it were very big. I prefer numerous smaller briefcases - 1 per subfolder, say.
    - If I try to open a briefcased document whilst dialed into our office by modem, it still seems to take 5 minutes to open, because it wants to check with the original copy first.

    Also, I've only ever used a briefcase by simply dragging the original into the briefcase - no right clicking etc required.
    If you put an entire folder in a briefcase, then save a new doc in either copy, the doc is created in the other copy - it works well until it crashes!

  8. #8
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    David,

    Thanks for the advice. I was just wondering whether to try and do it all or go with smaller pieces. I thought smaller might be better.

    I haven't found synch programs in general to be all that stable, but maybe there's a winner out there somewhere.

  9. #9
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    Edited by <font color=red>WyllyWylly</font color=red> to add URL code. See the Quick Guide. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>

    If you're after something to synch a lot of files, I heartily recommend Backer by leanware
    http://www.leanware.com/english/leanware.html
    I do use it for heaps of backup and copying things, including keeping 3 copies of My Documents synchronised! (Server / usb drive / home pc)
    Can't recommend it too highly.

  10. #10
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    I strongly agree with the smaller is better. Briefcase is definitely buggy and you will need to delete and recreate each briefcase about once a year or so <img src=/S/hosed.gif border=0 alt=hosed width=73 height=24> Before doing this you will want to manually sort out which files are newest and get those on the share <img src=/S/sad.gif border=0 alt=sad width=15 height=15>.

    StuartR

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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    It sounds like I should use Backer by leanware as David suggested. I've got 3 spots that I need to keep co-ordinated -- Laptop, server, and desktop.

    Two final (maybe) <img src=/S/blush.gif border=0 alt=blush width=15 height=15> Briefcase questions.

    1. How do you delete a briefcase? Move the files out and then delete like a file?
    2. Do you want the briefcase to contain the files that you usually work on, or to be the secondary work site? Does it matter?

    Thanks for all of the input. It's been a big help.

  12. #12
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    Delete a briefcase like any other folder, except that it mustn't be open at the time - even in an explorer window - which makes it tricky to do.

    I use the network copy as the "definitive" one, editing files in my briefcases and re-synching at regular intervals (varying between every time I edit and once a week depending on network speed).

    StuartR

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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    For what it's worth, offline files every time.

    I used Briefcases in Win98, and they were horrible. Buggy, slow, orphans everywhere. Yuk.

    Offline files, though, are truly wonderful <img src=/S/clapping.gif border=0 alt=clapping width=19 height=23> <img src=/S/bravo.gif border=0 alt=bravo width=16 height=30>. True, you can get conflict in resynching, but you also get a report and a quick call to the person concerned usually allows you to resynch if you desperately need the files. Also, the files are exactly where you left them - the full network path, so you can continue to use Recent File lists and suchlike. And the resynchronisation (must find a shorter word!) is automatic and efficient. Hurrah for offline files!

    The only word of caution is don't use them if you need a lot of file access. They are stored in a compressed form on your hard drive (and you can't change the location of the file) and you can suffer serious performance degredation if you use a lot of access - one report program I wrote took just forever. I eventually dumped all the files onto my hard drive and now I live with it. On the other hand, I have vast quantities of other files stored offline, in case I need to refer to them.

    Hurrah for offline files (again).

    Have I told you I really like them? <img src=/S/grin.gif border=0 alt=grin width=15 height=15>

  14. #14
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    I used Briefcase yesterday, since I'm currently commuting between my home office and a client site, where I get to push my floppy diskette it any available any machine in the common pool.

    Yesterday I discovered that the common pool workstations did NOT have briefcases and did NOT allow me to create a briefcase, AND did not have Explorer available, all as security measures.

    So there I sat with a big smile on my face and a folder "Briefcase" unaccessible on a floppy diskette.

    Now, it is possible that I have misunderstood directions COMPLETELY, but I ought to have had the presence of mind to take a good-old-fashioned extra copy of files on a plain diskette. Don't leap before you're eggs are counted, or something.

  15. #15
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    Re: Briefcases v's Offline Files?

    Even if you did have the extra floppy with out the "Explorer" you would still be having problems? Right?

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

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