Favorites: Network Unplugged

For about three years I have used a laptop as my primary computer. I love the portability of it and would never consider going back to a desktop model. When I first switched to a laptop, however, I had problems keeping track of whether the most current version of a file resided on my laptop’s hard drive or whether it was on our network server. I now no longer have that concern. With Mobiliti’s Network Unplugged, I know that any local file I work on will automatically be synchronized with the network file when I return to the office.

Before finding Network Unplugged, I had tried making my network files available offline by using the utility built into Windows. I found this to be a less than ideal solution, however, because Windows simply dumped all of the files in a single folder. I wanted to be able to navigate to my files the same way I would if I were connected to the network.

Network Unplugged creates a virtual network on my laptop that allows me to access the network files that I designate regardless of whether I am connected to the network. Further, the program preserves all of the file path names. Thus, whether I am connected to the network is now irrelevant to my computing. When I am away from the office, I work on the file stored in the virtual network. When I return to the office, I simply synchronize the files.

Installing the program was quite easy and took only a few minutes. Once the program was installed, it was just as easy to select the folders that I wanted the program to synchronize. I began by creating a “project.” In the program terms, a project is a name you give to a group of related files. You can define a project as broadly or as narrowly as you like. Additionally, you can have as many projects as you want. I created a single project for my network files.

After creating the project, I then designated the folders that I wanted to be available to me when I was no longer connected to my network. Using My Computer, I dragged and dropped the folders that I wanted into my project. Once I did this, I told the program to synchronize.

I had selected several folders for synchronization. Thus the first synchronization took several minutes. After that first synchronization, however, my subsequent synchronizations take about two minutes. Also, I can easily add additional folders to my project by simply dragging that folder and dropping it in the project.

Network Unplugged works by creating a virtual network on my laptop. Thus, the number of files I want to have available to me are limited only by my hard drive space. If my hard drive were big enough, I could take all of my network files with me.

When I am connected to the network, I work just as I normally would. When I am disconnected, I have available to me the folders and files that I had earlier designated. I access the files just as I would if I were still connected to the network. From my perspective, the only difference that I see when I am disconnected is that the folders I did not synchronize are not present. Otherwise, I would never know that I am not connected to the network.

In addition to allowing me to virtually work on my network. Network Unplugged also allows me to easily back up the data on my laptop. Establishing a backup project, was no different from establishing a synchronization project. I simply named the project and selected the data folders I wanted to backup. In addition to backing up my data files, Network Unplugged will also backup my registry and it will synchronize any two folders that I designate.

I can tell the program to synchronize all projects at the same time or I can select different synchronization properties for each project. Also, I can set the program to automatically synchronize at a particular time every day, to automatically synchronize every time I reconnect to the network, and to automatically synchronize when I shutdown. Alternatively I can set the program to take no action at those times or to prompt me and ask me if I want to synchronize. In short, the program allows me to customize my synchronization schedule to whatever best suits my needs.

The best thing about Network Unplugged, however, is that it allows me to use CaseMap and TextMap with minimal fuss. I no longer have to worry about making sure that I have a local copy of my linked files. Instead, I now know that the file paths for all of my files are the same, even when I am not connected to the network. Thus CaseMap, or any other similar program, need not search for linked files. Instead, the files reside on my virtual network in the exact same location that they reside on my real network.

I have a fondness for programs that do one thing and do it well. Network Unplugged surpasses this criteria in that it does one thing and does it exceptionally well. Everyone who uses a laptop as their primary computer should own this program.