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Take the time consuming sting out of worrying about which folder and documents are the up-to-date ones when using mobile devices or have multiple users with a compare folders utility.
How many times have you saved a document to a disk from your office PC to take home to work on and then had to do the double take to see which document is the current one and what changes have been made at the office by someone else ? How about when there are multiple users accessing documents stored centrally and saving the current version to their local hard drive without you knowing which version is the one you need to be contributing to ? Compare folders and compare directories utilities are essential tools for team management and your own data management when multiple devices and users are accessing and changing data.
When you are looking at compare folder utilities here are some questions to ask when selecting a solution and identify some of the features you will need. The primary function of compare folders and compare directories utilities is to ensure that disparate files and documents are synchronized and replicated across team members and then properly backed-up. Doing this manually is not only time consuming but prone to error, and both of these can prove to be extremely expensive. Look for utilities that offer a visual display to compare folders and compare directories so you can see the differences highlighted, dated and by whom the alteration has been made. This will make it far easier for you to manage and focus in on any issues that may arise.
Today we are not only dealing with laptops and PC's at the office or home, there is a dazzling array of portable storage and mobile devices that are being utilized as well. A compare folders utility that will allow you to compare directories and their contents with a laptop to a USB key, flash drive, U3 or other portable media becomes essential. Unless you have a very strict and restrictive device usage policy with the enforcement issues that entails, you will need the ability to compare data across virtually any device.
The development of widely used LAN's and mobile working has contributed in large measure to the need to be able synchronize and replicate data across the team fast and securely. Before you select a compare folder utility ensure that it is up to a compare folders or compare directories execution across the local area network at base or across a VPN for remote workers. Consider the effect of a salesman in the field going into a contract closing meeting with an important customer with outdated pricing information because he's not been able to synchronize data with head office over his mobile connection ?
Saving time and reducing errors may be the prime purpose behind deploying a compare folders or compare directories utility, however bear in mind that the solution also needs to be understood and deployed easily by your network administrator. Look for the ability to schedule synchronization and replication tasks at predetermined times (usually out of normal working hours). Given the dominance of Microsoft in delivering office applications, a Windows based utility that can be run across client and server machines makes a lot of sense too. Remember there is going to be an IT staff cost to running a compare folders or compare directories utility across the organization and IT desktop support is increasingly expensive to deliver.
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