Windows 7 : Syncing with Network Files (part 2) - Dealing with Conflict

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9/19/2012 12:44:35 AM

4. Dealing with Conflict

Sync Center really comes in handy when you have a conflict with synchronization. The most common scenario is outlined in the following steps:

  1. You have set up synchronization using offline files to a folder named Important Documents located on a remote server.

    Figure 7. The General tab for the Offline Files dialog box.
  2. You disconnect from the network and edit some of the files within the folder.

  3. While you are away and disconnected from the network, a coworker makes copies to the same files up on the server.

  4. When you connect back to the network, Sync Center resumes the schedule you defined and realizes that there's a conflict and asks you to resolve the issue.

The likelihood of this scenario goes up with the number of users you have sharing the same data. Files that don't frequently change won't run into this scenario very often.

  1. Verify that your synchronization schedule is working by opening Sync Center within the Control Panel. Make sure that you verify that the status of your synchronization is fairly recent by clicking View Sync Partnerships as shown in Figure 10.

  2. Disconnect from the network either by disconnecting your network cable or using the Disable This Network Device button shown in Figure 11. You can get to this window by selecting Networking and Sharing Center in the Control Panel. Click Change Adapter Settings on the left side of the Control Panel. Click Disable This Network Device or right-click the network adapter and choose Disable.

  3. With your network connection disabled, navigate to the Offline Files. To do this, open your Computer folder; the files will be located under the Network group. Select a file you can edit. This can be any type of file including a text document, an image, or any other file you can afford to make changes to. When you are done making changes, save the file. The contents of the file will be stored locally on your system, and your system will attempt to synchronize the next time you connect to the network.

    Figure 8. A listing of the synchronized files.
    Figure 9. The dialog box used to set limits on the amount of space used by offline files.
    Figure 10. The status of the synchronization is fairly recent.
    Figure 11. Disconnect from your network connection.
  4. From another system on the network, connect to the original location of the file (this is the location of the file with which you were originally syncing). Open the file and make some changes to the same file that you made changes to in the previous step. Save your changes to the network location.

  5. Go back to the computer that was recently disconnected from the network and reconnect. To reconnect to the network, open the Network and Sharing Center again and click Change Adapter Settings. Select your original network connection and click the Enable This Network Device button.

  6. When connected to the network, open Sync Center if you've closed it. The status will change from Disconnected (see Figure 12) as Sync Center tries to resync your files. This time, however, the system notifies you that there was a conflict with the synchronization.

    Figure 12. Sync Center indicates that Sync Center is disconnected.
  7. Clicking the Conflict link lists all of the files that had a synchronization conflict. The Details column indicates that "A file was changed on this computer and the server while this computer was offline." Right-clicking the entry provides three options:

    • View Options to Resolve Conflict: This option enables you to keep the local version on your system and overwrite the changes on the server. You have the option to use the version on the server and overwrite your local copy. Finally, you have the option to keep both of them.

    • Ignore: Selecting Ignore removes the conflict from the list. Both of the files remain in their original states — the one on your local system and the one on the remote system. However, the next time synchronization occurs, the same synchronization conflict will occur.

    • Properties: The Properties dialog box shows the details regarding the type of partnership along with the date and details regarding the synchronization conflict.

Microsoft has provided quite a few options for dealing with the synchronization conflicts that arise with offline folders. In addition to the conflicts showing up in Sync Center, there is also a notification from the Notification area on the taskbar, which will notify you when a conflict has occurred.
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