More and more people must rely on using a laptop/portable PC in their ever-busy lives to keep up with their workload, and then find they have different copies of the same file on this PC and their desktop. The easiest solution is having all machines networked and storing all working files on the network’s file server(s). However, if you need to work at home and other locations using multiple computers, this may not be possible.
1- Any portable storage media can be used to hold a copy of a file and move it between two compatible machines. Portable storage options include:
· USB Flash drive/computer flash storage card/reader
· Portable hard disk
· Floppy disk (Not that you’ll keep too many files on a 1.44 MB 3.5inch floppy!)
· Zip drives (Iomega – 250 & 750MB)
· CD or DVD disks can be used, replicating old ‘sneaker net’ style file transfers (walking from one machine to the next with a floppy disk) before Local Area Networks were commonplace
2- Copy the file(s) you want to transfer from their location on one machine to the portable drive. Use whichever option for copying files you find easiest: Drag and drop using the mouse, cut and paste, or copy, using the menu options. Take the portable drive to the second PC, hook them up together, and copy the files to the new machine.
3- If all machines used have Internet access, you may decide to store files on a ‘webmail’ server using the Internet, by sending the files attached to an email message to your own email address. This may be possible using a commercial file repository contract, spare space on an existing web server using a ‘web disc’, or even simply mailing the file to yourself on a webmail account. Google presently provides users with space in excess of 6GB (approximately equal to 6,000 MB), a storage size you are unlikely to fill with text and numbers from word processing or spreadsheet files. You can then download a copy of this file any time you log on to whichever machine you’re using.
4- Whichever method you choose to move your files around, there is a risk of overwriting your latest work (version) with an earlier file. This means losing any work added after the date of the earlier file. Windows tries to safeguard against this by asking if you want to replace one file with another and informing you of the relative ages of the two files. Similar precaution messages appear on most windowed operating systems (e.g. Mac OS and Linux).
5- A tool to help you move files around between different machines is included in Windows OS from Microsoft, since Win 95 at least – the ‘briefcase’ application. This works like a standard windows folder and assists file transfers by automatically identifying the most recent version of files with the same name.
6- Any file has a date and time somewhere in the file information, and the OS can use this data to identify the latest version provided the date and time are correctly set on each system/machine.