Keep Your USB Drive Synchronized With Briefcase

synch using briefcaseThere has been a nice little utility called Briefcase that has been part of the standard Windows operating systems since way back when. I seem to remember it being part of Windows 3.1, or at least Windows for Workgroups, but I guess that doesn't really matter. Windows briefcase was originally designed for keeping files synchronized between computers - desktop to server, desktop to desktop, laptop to server, you get the idea. You would create a briefcase, pull the files that you wanted to keep synched into it, then periodically synchronize the files so that any files that had been modified (in either location) would be updated.

These days I'm finding a new use for the briefcase - keeping data synchronized between my USB drive and my laptop.

USB driveWe've all seen them, I've got 3 or 4 laying around at this point. I have one I use for business files, I have another one that holds a complete copy of this entire website. I noticed one on E's dresser in the bedroom the other day (don't ask me what it's doing there), people have them hanging off key chains. I'm talking about USB drives, of course, and they're one of the best inventions since sliced bread. They're terrific for sharing files with others, and taking files with you so you can work on them at another computer. Sometimes, though, it can be tough to figure out where the newest file is, and don't we all just hate to overwrite some of our hard work. This is where the Briefcase can help you out.

It's very simple to create a briefcase. Open up My Computer or Windows Explorer, then click on the folder where you want to create the briefcase. Go to the main menu and select File -> New -> Briefcase:


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You can also create a briefcase that lives on your desktop by right-clicking anywhere on the desktop, then selecting New -> Briefcase from the popup menu:


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After you create the briefcase you can re-name it to whatever is appropriate for your purposes, in my case I'm re-naming mine to A_test_briefcase. Now, you need to put the files that you want to keep synchronized into the briefcase. In this case, I've got a couple of example files in my USB drive that I'm going to drag and drop into it:


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That's pretty much all you need to do to set it up. Now any time you make a change to the files, either on your computer or on the USB drive, you can synchronize the files using the briefcase. Hang on, while I make a couple of quick changes...

[Sound of soft whistling in the background...]

OK, I made a change to the spreadsheet on the local drive, and a change to the image on the thumb drive. If you look at the files in explorer you can see that the files have changed:


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To update all of the files, simply click on the Update all icon on the main toolbar:


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Or, if you prefer, you can select an individual file and just update that single file:


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I've decided to update all of the files. When I click on that icon I get the following dialog form, telling me which way each file will get updated:


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Just click Update, and you're USB drive is kept up to date. Piece of cake (which wasn't a bad invention, either).