If You Use More Than One Computer, or Want To...
Many computer users use more than one computer. Perhaps they use one at work and one at home or have multiple ones at the house and office. They might keep computers permanently at various locations so they don't have carry a computer around with them. There are many great reasons to use multiple computers, but as any residential or small business multi-computer user will tell you, it adds an obstacle: how to access the same data from all computers consistently.
We use computers to store and access many categories of information. This can include photographs, addresses and phone numbers, calendar information, music, Internet bookmarks, documents, books, e-mail folders, etc. When we move between computers, however, we have to keep track of where all of this information is saved so that we can copy it to the next computer or we risk not having current information on the computer we are using. In addition, there is always the possibility of copying old information over top of new information. This article discusses a few products and services newly available to residential and small business users that removes the hassle of moving information between computers and keeps all computers accessing the most recent information all of the time.
E-mails, e-mail folders, calendar, address books, todo lists, and memos (AKA "collaboration" data) are very important to a lot of people and manually keeping that information available to all of your computers can be close to impossible. If you add a calendar entry, for example, to one computer, it may not show up on your other computer. If you make a change to your e-mail address book, that same address may not be available to your other computers. One of the easiest ways to remedy this is to use a "collaboration host". This may sound complex, but it is not. These hosts generally charge about $20 / month and they provide a service of centrally storing all of your "collaboration" data (e-mail, e-mail folders, address books, calendars, todo lists, etc.) on an Internet accessible server, thus making all information available to each of your computers. Now, don't think that you have to specifically go out to the Internet to get your information. It is much easier than that. In fact, it's no harder than opening your calendar / e-mail / to-do list program and then, in the background, that program automatically (without your doing anything) stores it's information on the server. Then when you go to your next computer and open the same program it retrieves all new information without your doing anything at all. In addition, because the information is being downloaded, you don't have to be connected to the Internet to view your information; the Internet connection is only required to receive or send updates. This means you can still view your address book, e-mails, etc. if you are on an airplane or in any other environment where Internet access is not available. If you have a PDA (eg: Nokia, Blackberry, smartphone, etc.), this removes the need for you to "sync" your data. When you make a calendar change on the computer, the change is recorded in real-time on the handheld PDA without any user intervention. This is also nice if you share an address book with someone else in your business or house. You could update someone's phone number in your PDA and the other computer would receive the change in real time.
In the next article we will discuss a service that keeps your Internet bookmarks available to all of your computers and PDAs along with a way to keep all of your documents available to all of your computers. More ways to work and play in a mobile world.