Ways to work remotely on multiple PCs
Lots of entrepreneurs juggle work at multiple offices; check out these software options to help.
(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Dear FSB: I have a business in two states, Connecticut and Florida. When I am in one office, I always need to access files in the other office. How can I access my other computer remotely to work on files and applications in the other office? P.S. I can't break the bank.
- John Tolson, Newtown, Conn.
Dear John: More and more business owners are working remotely, and tech companies have come out with a number of affordable ways to help the on-the-go entrepreneur remain connected to his or her files.
Dan Carpenter, vice president of IT services for computer consulting firm Miles Technologies, suggests that you "make the computer in one office a primary computer where you centralize your data. Then, use the computer in your other office to just connect into your primary."
Once you've done that, Carpenter recommends two low-cost products that will allow you to access the applications and files on your primary computer from anywhere, GoToMyPC from Citrix (CTXS) and LogMeIn.
These Web-based programs pull up a complete replica of your desktop in a browser window. As long as your primary machine is on and connected to the Internet, you can remotely tap into its applications and files. However, whatever work you do on the remote device (checking emails, editing documents, opening photos) will also appear in real time on the main device, so be wary of who can see your screen when you're not around.
GoToMyPC offers a full -service package for $19.95 a month per PC ($179.40 a year); LogMeIn's basic service is free. Additional features, such as audio access to music files, e-mail notifications, and file transfer, are available on its Pro edition, which costs $12.95 a month ($69.95 a year.) Both programs are compatible with PCs and Macs, though features may be limited for Mac users.
Migo, a company profiled in FSB's 2005 Next Little Thing package, created synchronization software that can transport files and personalized settings between multiple computers and mobile devices via a small USB storage unit. MigoSync Premium retails $49.99 and is compatible with PCs. (A Mac-friendly version of the software will be introduced early this year.)
If you're mostly concerned about transferring text files, spreadsheets, and slide presentations, you may want to consider creating and storing them in Goggle (GOOG, Fortune 500) Docs instead of a more traditional Office suite.
Last October, Fortune Small Business wrote about four co-owners who operate their media business from four different cities. They find Google Docs to be very useful. Whether they are in their home offices or visiting their Houston-based headquarters, each owner can hop onto any computer and easily access personal and shared documents created in Google's Web-hosted program.