Work offline using Business Contact Manager

If you connect to a shared database that is located on a remote computer, you can take your business data with you on a portable computer, or keep working when the remote database is unavailable. To access your data whenever you need to, you can go offline.

Before you can go offline, you must create a local copy of your shared Business Contact Manager database. You can use the local, or offline copy when you are away from your main database, or when your main database is unavailable.

In your offline database, you can edit records and add new ones, just as you can in your main Business Contact Manager database. When you reconnect to the main database, your changes are synchronized.

This article describes how to work offline by creating a local copy of the database, choosing synchronization settings, and resolving conflicts between the shared and local databases.

What do you want to do?

Create a local copy of the database

Switch between offline and online

Choose synchronization settings

Resolve conflicts between the shared and local databases

Check the online or offline status of the database

Drop an offline database

Create a local copy of the database

If you want to take your business data with you, or if you access shared business data on a remote computer that is occasionally unavailable, create a local copy of the database on your computer, known as an offline database, which you can access whenever you want to.

  1. Share the main Business Contact Manager database or ask the database owner to share the main database. The shared database is on a remote (or different) computer.

  2. Connect to the shared Business Contact Manager database.

  3. When you are connecting to the shared database, in the Startup wizard or the Create or Select a Database wizard, click Yes, create an offline copy of the database.

You can create a copy of the database when you connect to a shared database or you can create the copy later. If you didn't choose the offline option when you connected to the shared database, then:

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. Click the Offline button, and then click Enable Offline.

    Note:  The Offline button is available only if your computer is connected to a shared database.

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Switch between offline and online

Even though you create a copy of the database for offline use, you don't have to use it until you are ready. Until you switch to your offline database, Business Contact Manager for Outlook will continue to be connected to your main, shared database, as long as it is available.

If Business Contact Manager for Outlook loses the connection to the shared database, it will automatically switch to your local, offline database until the shared database becomes available again. When the shared database becomes available again, you will be prompted to reconnect. When Business Contact Manager for Outlook reconnects to the shared database, any changes to the data in the shared and local databases will be synchronized.

Switch to your offline database

If you are getting ready to leave the office, switch to offline to ensure that the offline database is fully synchronized with the main database.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. Click the Offline button, and then click Work Offline Now.

    Note:  The Offline button is available only if your computer is connected to a shared database.

Switch to your online database

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. In the Offline section, click the Connect Now button.

    Note:  The Connect Now button is available only if you are working offline and the shared database is available.

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Choose synchronization settings

When Business Contact Manager for Outlook is connected to the shared database, the data is automatically updated between your shared and your local copy of the database. You can use the default synchronization settings, or you can choose your settings, including the frequency of the synchronization, and what to do when the shared database is not available.

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. Click the Offline button, and then click Offline Settings.

    Note:  The Offline button is available only if your computer is connected to a shared database.

  4. On the Synchronization tab, in the When online section, click a time interval from the list to choose how often the data is synchronized.

    Note:  Use a larger interval if synchronization will occur over a slow connection. Otherwise, the efficiency of your local database may be reduced.

  5. In the When connection to the shared database is not available section, click one of the following options:

    • Switch automatically to my local database to automatically use the offline database when the connection to the shared database is lost.

      -Or-

    • Don't switch automatically. I will switch manually to switch to the offline database yourself when the connection to the remote database is lost. For information about how to manually switch, see Switch to your offline database earlier in this article.

Note:  If more than one person is using the shared database, conflicting changes can be made to the same field in a record. You can set rules for smoothly handling these conflicts. For more information, see Resolve conflicts between the shared and local databases later in this article.

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Troubleshoot synchronization errors

When you connect to the shared database, an error that stops or prevents synchronization may occur. Because the cause of the error is unknown, the best thing to do is to go offline, which stops synchronization, and then reconnect to the shared database to restart the synchronization. When the offline database reconnects, synchronization will start again immediately, and then according to the frequency specified in your synchronization settings.

Switch to working offline

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. Click the Offline button, and then click Work Offline.

    Note:  The Offline button is available only if your computer has connected to a shared database that is on a remote computer.

Reconnect to the shared database

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. In the Offline section, click Connect Now.

    Note:  The Connect Now button is available only if you are working offline and the shared database is available.

  4. When the offline database reconnects, synchronization will start again immediately, and then according to the frequency specified in your synchronization settings.

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Resolve conflicts between the shared and local databases

When you reconnect to the shared database, your local (offline) copy of the database connects to the shared database to synchronize the data. If there are conflicting changes to the data, Business Contact Manager for Outlook will find them.

A conflict occurs when different changes have been made to a single field in a record in both the shared database and the offline database.

For example, it is a conflict if the Job title field in Bob Smith's Business Contact record has been changed to Account Manager in the shared database, but to Account Supervisor in the offline database. You can choose how to resolve conflicts between the shared database and your copy of the database in your conflict resolution settings.

However, it is not a conflict if the Job title field in Bob Smith's Business Contact record has been changed to Account Manager in the shared database, but a different field, such as Bob Smith's business phone number, was changed in the offline database. These changes will be automatically synchronized.

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Choose conflict resolution settings

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. Click the Offline button, and then click Offline Settings.

Note:  The Offline button is available only if your computer is connected to a shared database.

  1. Click the Conflict Resolution tab, and then click one of the following options:

    • Ask me      Click this option to be asked each time there are conflicting changes. Each time a conflict occurs, you can choose whether to keep the changes from the shared database, or from your offline, local copy of the database.

    • Always accept the latest changes      Click this option to resolve a conflict by keeping the most recent changes.

    • Always accept changes made in the shared database      Click this option to keep the changes from the main database. The changes in the main database will overwrite the changes in your local, offline copy of the database.

    • Always accept changes made in the local database      Click this option to keep the changes from your local, offline copy of the database. The changes from your copy will overwrite the changes in the shared, or main, database.

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What happens with the Conflict Resolution setting of Ask me: Review and resolve data conflicts

When Business Contact Manager for Outlook reconnects to the shared database, any changes that were made in your offline database must be reconciled with the shared database.

These changes include any made in your local database as well as those made by anyone else who is using the shared database.

If Ask me is selected in the conflict resolution settings, you are asked to review each conflicting change in the Conflict Resolution dialog box that appears when you connect to the shared database.

If you selected any other method to resolve conflicts, Business Contact Manager for Outlook will automatically resolve conflicts using the method you chose.

  1. In the Conflict Resolution dialog box, click one of the following options:

    • Local      The change you made to that record in your local copy overwrites the information in the shared database.

    • Shared      The change made to the record in the shared database overwrites the information in your local copy.

  2. Select the Make the same choice for all subsequent conflicts check box, if you decide to repeat the selection that you made for the remaining conflicts.

    Note:  Do not select the Make the same choice for all subsequent conflicts check box if you want to review each conflicting change and decide which change to accept on each record.

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Check the online or offline status of the database

  1. Click the File tab.

  2. Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  3. Look in the Offline section to see the status of your database.

    If you are connected to the shared database, you will see Business Contact Manager is connected to the remote database. If you are offline, you will see Business Contact Manager is using your local database with information on whether the remote database is available.

    Note:  The online status of your database does not necessarily depend on the online status of Outlook. Business Contact Manager for Outlook can be connected to a shared database even if Outlook is not connected to an e-mail server.

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Drop an offline database

You can have only one local copy of the database that connects to and synchronizes with a shared database on another computer. If your offline database cannot reconnect to the shared database for any reason, such as if the shared database is corrupted, you can drop the connection and then create a new database or connect to a different shared database.

Before you can create a new database or make a connection to a different shared database (including one that has been restored), you must first drop the offline database.

You must be working offline to drop your offline database. To save the data from your offline database, export it. Then create or select another database, and then you can import the data from your offline database.

The following procedure describes how to drop your offline database, save the data by exporting it, and then create or connect to a different database.

  • Drop your offline database

  • Click the File tab.

  • Click the Business Contact Manager tab.

  • Click the Offline button, and then click Drop Offline Database.

    Important:  You cannot reverse dropping your offline database.

  • Click Yes.

    Important:  When you drop an offline database, all changes you made since the database has been offline will be lost unless you export the data during this drop process.

  • In the Dropping Offline Database dialog box, verify that the Export and preserve your local data before dropping the offline database check box is selected.

    If the check box is selected, the data from your local copy of the database, including any data that you created or saved since the last time the databases were synchronized, is saved in a file on your computer. If you are sure that you will no longer need this data, clear this check box.

    Important:  You cannot reverse dropping your offline database. If you export your data, a copy of your data is saved in the location you choose on your computer.

  • Click OK.

    One of the following occurs:

    • If you selected the Export and preserve your local data before dropping the offline database check box, the Export Business Data dialog box opens. For information about how to export your data, see the next section.

    • The Create or Select a Database wizard opens. See "Create or Select a Database" later in this process.

  • Export your data

  • In the Export Business Data dialog box, choose the information that you want to export, type the location and name of the file to export, and then click Export.

    For more information about how to export data, see Export your business records in Business Contact Manager.

    Note:  Because your data is exported to a .bcm file. you can import it into another Business Contact Manager database to review your data in Business Contact Manager for Outlook. For information about how to import data, see Import your data into Business Contact Manager.

  • Click Yes.

    The Create or Select a Database wizard opens. See the next procedure for information about how to complete this wizard.

  • Create or select another database

  • In the Create or Select a Database wizard, click one of the following options:

    • Connect to a Local Database.

    • Connect to a Remote Database.

    • Create a New Local Database.

  • Complete the wizard. For information about creating or selecting a database, see Create or select a new Business Contact Manager database.

  • Import your data

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