January 2008
Vol. 24, No. 1

A Technology Newsletter for Extension Specialists

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Offline Folders—Your R:\ Drive on the Move
by Joe Lear

With the new deployment, the majority of regional faculty will be getting laptops to replace the desktop computers they currently use. The advantage to having a laptop as your main computer is you can take it wherever you go and you no longer have to worry about borrowing a laptop for presentations, or even if your presentation will look right on another computer.

Now some of you may ask, “What about my data”, it’s on the file server in the office on my R:\ drive isn’t it? This is correct. Your My Documents folder and Favorites are stored on your R:\ drive so they are backed up and prevent data loss in case your computer has to be reformatted and repaired. Having your data on the server also means you can access it from any computer in the office or at another office (as long as you use the Extension VPN connection while at the other office).

So now you’re asking if our files and folders are on the R: drive, then do we have to remember to copy the data we need before we leave the office and then if we make changes we have to make sure to copy the changed files back to the server? The answer to that question is no. Thanks to improvements in Vista, we can actually allow you to take a copy of your R drive with you. This feature is called Offline Files.

If you are using a laptop as your main computer, Right Click on your R: drive and Click on “Always Available Offline” and you will then be ready to sync your R: drive with your laptop. A scheduled sync when you log in should be setup to sync any file changes or additions you made while out of the office.

While you’re in the office and make changes to files these changes are written to the offline copy as well (also known as the cache). You can tell if a file or folder is available offline by looking for the green available offline symbol.

Now the question is, won’t the sync take a long time if I have a lot of data? The Initial sync will take a while depending on total size of the files on your R: drive. Subsequent syncs will depend on how many files were added or deleted and the amount of changes that were made to existing files while you were out of the office. All in all the sync processes is fairly speedy. Only totally new files and the changes to existing files will be synced when you log on.

If there are conflicts on the changes that were made, the sync manager will alert you and walk through the options of resolving any conflicts or errors during the sync.  You can even choose to manually sync files and folders by Clicking sync on the menu while in Windows Explorer, or by Right Clicking the Sync Center icon in the System Tray and choosing Sync All from the Menu that appears.

While using your computer, you will have the option to set your R: drive to Work Offline or Online depending on your location and situation. If you’re in another office and connection to your R: drive seems very slow, you can open your R: drive and click Work Offline on the Menu and continue to work with your files without going across the network.

You can even choose to set the R: drive to work offline before you leave the office when going to a location with no connectivity; or you do not want to worry about connectivity issues (when making a presentation outside the office for example). This will ensure that your folders and files are available while you work off-site.

While still in your office, you should do a manual sync of the R drive before setting it to work offline. When you return to your office be sure to open up Your R drive and Click Work Online to return to working directly off the R drive instead of from the cache.

Offline folders give you a lot more flexibility to work in more locations, and not worry about having multiple copies of your files or worry about your files not being backed up on a regular basis. So take your R drive on the road with confidence.



Last Revised: 08/04/08



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