Are there any apps that do what Windows Briefcase did? | Q&A with Patrick Marshall

Question: I still think the old Windows Briefcase, which allowed you to sync files on a computer or server with a “briefcase” on a USB drive, was a great feature. Being able to work on files outside of the office and knowing which files had changed was great. This feature ceased to be available with Windows 10. Now you need to access files through the cloud, which works if you have decent internet access.

I would like to find a good alternative app with this functionality. I’ve seen software that seems to have this feature built in, but there are so many sales that it’s hard to tell. Do you have any suggestions for replacing the old briefcase?

Mike, Marysville

A: For a while, Microsoft allowed Windows 10 users to install the Briefcase, but it ended with OS version 14942.

I don’t know why you don’t want to use cloud storage as a “briefcase”. You can specify which folders from your OneDrive (or other cloud storage) are synced to your local devices. This way, you don’t need to be connected to the internet to work on it. And when you reconnect to the internet, all the folders and files you have created or edited are automatically synced to the cloud.

This means that you always have an effortless backup of your important data. A big advantage of the cloud over a USB stick is that if something happens to your device – fire, flood, etc. – cloud backup is not in the same place.

However, there are ways to sync files to your computer with a USB drive. One solution is SyncFolder, a free app available on the Microsoft Store.

SyncFolder works with USB flash drives, USB hard drives or SSDs, as well as network storage and cloud storage. Your data can be mirrored – in which case if you delete a file on the source location it will also be deleted on the target location – or by “blind copy”, in which case the deleted files are not deleted on the target .

There are in my opinion two drawbacks with the SyncFolder solution compared to cloud storage solutions such as OneDrive. First of all, with SyncFolder, synchronization only takes place in one direction – from a designated source to a designated target. Second, syncing is only done at preprogrammed times or manually, rather than whenever changes are made or when you connect to the internet.

Question: I have an HP Envy Te01 running Windows 10. I have some old hard drives and wish I could see what’s in them. Can I buy something that will allow me to connect my old hard drives to my HP externally so that I can take a look at what’s inside? Not all of these hard drives failed, some were removed still in good condition. Any advice will be welcome.

Newman Guilford, Port Townsend

A: The easiest way to accomplish what you want is to buy a hard drive enclosure. They are not expensive. You can find them for under $ 25.

The key is to make sure that the enclosure is compatible with the internal drive you are trying to install in terms of the type of data connection and the physical size of the drive. Once you insert the drive into the case, you connect it to your computer using a supplied USB cable.

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