Synching FAQ

Why would I use the synching feature of Windows?

How does it work?

What are the advantages?

What are the disadvantages?

How do set it up?

Can I use it with my P: drive?

Can I still use VPN?

What options can I set?

Any tips for me?

Why would I use the Offline files (synching) feature of Windows?

An example of a situation where you might want to use file synchronization would be when you use a laptop both at home and on the network at the Juniata. File synchronization allows all the work done at home to be instantly added to the Juniata network as soon as the laptop is connected to the Juniata network.

Using this feature also allows you to use network resources, when not attached to a network. You can access files that you have stored on the network even when not attached to the network. In the specific Juniata example you can access files on your U: drive while off campus without the use of VPN. Your changes to those files are then automatically moved to the network when you re-attached to the Juniata Network.

How does it work?

Basically it maintains a local copy of the files on your machine. It then keeps these 2 copies of the files “synchronized”. If you make changes to the files while off-line they will be “synched” up to the network when you re-attach to the network. When you disconnect from the Juniata network the files are automatically copied to your local machine. When you are off-line you access these files the same as you would while attached to Juniata’s network. You choose which folders to make available offline.

When offline, using “My Computer” the circled folders are available via the synching tool, the other folders are not configured as “synched” and appear as empty folders.

What are the advantages?

The major advantage is that you are able to access files stored on your U: drive while off campus, without the use of VPN.

What are the disadvantages?

The major disadvantage is the time it takes to synchronize files when attaching, or detaching from Juniata’s network. This can be minimized with a little organization of your files. If you keep all you files in one huge folder, well good luck. But if you are a little more organized than that you can just make the folders available offline which house your current project files.

As an example as a faculty member I have the files for each of my classes in a separate folder. Each semester I configure the folders that contain that semesters classes so they are available for offline use.

How do I set it up?

While not difficult to set-up, it does take 2 steps. First you must enable your computer for file synching. Go to “My Computer” and choose the Tools pull down menu, and then select folders options:

On the dialog box choose the offline files tab:

Make sure that Enable Offline Files is checked.

To have your computer automatically synchronize your files check the boxes to have it synchronize the files when logging on and logging off.

The “Display a reminder” option simply reminds you when you are working offline.

The “Create an Offline Files shortcut on the desktop” will give you a desktop icon to access your offline files. The alternative is to use the same means to access these files as when connected to the network, such as through My Computer or Microsoft Word.

As you can see it does use disk space on your local computer to make these available.

Once you have enabled your computer to use offline files you now can select which folder to make available off line. Go to “My Computer” and right mouse click on a folder you want to make available for offline use:

And choose to Make Available Offline. It will take a few minutes to initially synchronize the files. After synchronization completes you can then choose another folder for synchronization.

In much the same way if you no longer need a folder for offline uses you use the same procedure to disable offline use of the file.

Can I use it with my P: drive?

Yes it is possible to do synching with your P: drive. The only difference is due to how the mapping is set-up for the P: drive you may have to create a local drive mapping on your computer in order to make the P: available when offline.

Can I still use VPN?

Yes you can. One you connect with VPN you have 2 choices, you can allow it to synchronize all your offline files. This can be convenient if you have completed a lot of work while offline and wish to have that work backed-up on the network drives.

If you do not want to synchronize all your files you can choose to work on-line without synchronizing your changes.

The red arrow points to the icon in your system try for the offline file manager, this allows you to manage the process. It indicates how many modified files exists along with other information. The blue arrow points to the check box that would allow you to work online without having changes synchronized. When working over VPN the synchronization process can take some time to complete.

What options can I set?

The above dialog box allows users to set the options that control how synchronization occurs.

Synchronize all offline files when logging on this will cause all files to be automatically synchronized when logging onto the network.

Synchronize all offline files when before logging off this will cause all files to be automatically synchronized when logging off the network.

You do not need to have this occur automatically, you can manually have synchronization occur by choosing that option in My Computer.

Display a reminder has the offline manager display a reminder of your status every X number of seconds.

Create an Offline shortcut on the desktop places a short-cut icon on your desktop to allow for easy access to your offline files.

Any tips for me?

I would start out small, set it up for one folder and watch how it behaves. Make a change to a file while offline then be sure it is synchronized. Create a new file and watch how synchronization behaves. Start out small and be sure you are comfortable with the process before going large scale.

While Microsoft warns that some file types won’t synchronize, the only ones that I have found that do not synchronize are Microsoft Access database files.