Windows 2000: tuning the new OS

Network drives are great places to store your data files - your administrator handles backup, and you can get to them from someone else's PC if yours goes under. But what if the network goes down or you disconnect your laptop from it? Windows 2000 has a great fix: it can flag folders or files as Available Offline. Under My Computer or My Network Places, find the shared network file or folder to which you want uninterrupted access. Select File-Make Available Offline. If you don't see this option, set your PC to use offline files. In My Computer, select Tools-Folder Options. Click the Offline Files tab, and check Enable Offline Files.

The first time you try to make an item available offline, the Offline Files Wizard steps you through the process and syncs up the files on your hard drive and the network. When your network connection drops, the Offline Files icon appears in the status area (formerly known as the system tray, where the clock appears on your taskbar) with a balloon explaining you are offline. You can continue to work with your files, and when you reconnect, Windows 2000 updates the files you've worked on with those on the network.

Synchronising offline files and folders is foolproof. If someone else has edited a network file you've made available offline, you'll be given three options: keep the one on the network, keep the one on your hard drive, or keep both. If you delete an offline file, but someone else edits its network counterpart, it'll remain on the network after synchronisation. Files put in the network folder are added to your offline files when the computers sync up.

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