Q: I still think the old Windows Briefcase, which allowed you to sync files on a computer or server to a “briefcase” on a thumb drive, was a great feature. Being able to work on files outside the office and know which files had been changed was great. That feature stopped being available with Windows 10. Now you have to access files through the cloud, which works if you have decent internet access.

I’d like to find a good alternate app with this feature. I’ve seen some software that looks like it has this feature bundled in, but there’s so much sales speak it’s hard to tell. Do you have any suggestions for a replacement for the old Briefcase?

Mike, Marysville

A: For a while, Microsoft did allow Windows 10 users to install the Briefcase, but that ended with Build 14942 of the operating system.

I’m not clear though on why you don’t want to use cloud storage as your “briefcase.” You can specify which folders in your OneDrive (or other cloud storage) are synched on your local devices. That way you don’t have to be connected to the internet to work on them. And when you do reconnect to the internet all the folders and files that you have created or changed are automatically synced to the cloud.

That means you always have an effortless backup of your important data. One big advantage of the cloud compared to relying on a thumb drive is that if something happens to your device – fire, flood, etc. – the cloud backup isn’t in the same location.

There are, however, ways to sync files on your computer with a thumb drive. One solution is SyncFolder, a free app available on the Microsoft Store.


SyncFolder works with USB sticks, USB hard drives or SSD drives, as well as network storage and cloud storage. Your data can either 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 copying,” in which case deleted files are not deleted on the target.

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

Q: I have an HP Envy Te01 running Windows 10. I have some old hard drives and I’d like to be able to see what’s on them. Can I buy something that will allow me to connect my old drives to my HP externally so I can take a look at what’s on them? Not all those hard drives have crashed, some were taken out still in good shape. Any advice would be appreciated.

Newman Guilford, Port Townsend

A: The simplest way to accomplish what you want is to buy a hard drive enclosure. They’re not expensive. You can find them for less than $25.

The key is to make sure the enclosure is compatible with the internal drive you’re trying to install both in terms of the type of data connection and the physical size of the drive. Once you get the drive into the enclosure you connect it to your computer via a provided USB cable.