In Windows, What Is the Difference Between a Folder & a Briefcase?

By Richard Schupp

Windows allows users to create folders to help organize your files, and these folders can be customized and sorted into different areas on the computer. Starting with Windows 95, Microsoft introduced the briefcase, which allow users to synchronize files on difference computers, so that your work stays up-to-date.

Creating Folders and Briefases

To create either a folder or a briefcase, all you need to do is right-click on your desktop or a location on your computer, such as Documents, Pictures, Music, etc. and hover over "New" on the menu that appears. In Windows 7, "Folder" is the first thing that appears. Clicking "Folder" will create a new one that you can name. "Briefcase" is the last option available. Clicking "Briefcase" will also create a new one that can be named.

Folder and Briefcases as Storage

After creating a folder or briefcase, you can then add files to them. Photos, music, or any other types of files that you do not edit or work with are best-kept in folders, since they function as a place to be store and organize files on the computer. You can also add these files to briefcases, but briefcases are best-suited for files that can be edited and changed, such as Word, PowerPoint, Photoshop, or any other customizable file type.

Benefits of Briefcases

The reason that you might want to put a customizable file types, like some of the ones mentioned in the above section, into a briefcase as opposed to a folder is because briefcases allow synchronization across devices and other computers. Let's say you have a PowerPoint file you have started on your home computer. You can take the file with you by copying the briefcase the PowerPoint file is stored in to an external device, such as a USB flash drive. You can then work on the file on another computer and save the changes. When you return to your home computer, the briefcase can be synchronized and the file will be updated with the changes you have made on the other computer.

Synchronizing the Briefcase

To synchronize the briefcase, just insert the USB flash drive into a port on the home computer. Navigate to the location of the briefcase on your home computer with the original file. Right-click on the briefcase and click "Update All" from the menu that appears. The files within the briefcase on your home computer will then be updated with the changes that were saved on the USB flash drive. This is the sole difference between briefcases and folders, and it is a very useful function.