3 ways to stay logged in when you're overseas
By Adam Turner | April 5, 2013
Whether you're across town or across the world, the Cloud makes it easy to stay on top of things when you're away from your desk.
There are three key ways to stay connected to your office when you're on the road. The first is to make a secure connection back to your desktop computer using Remote Desktop. The second is to synchronise your desktop documents with your notebook or tablet via the Cloud, so you can access your documents on the road and any changes are automatically copied back to your office. The third is to move your entire office to the Cloud with an online Office suite, storing your files online so you can edit them anywhere, anytime from any device.
Windows includes built-in Remote Desktop features which let you control one computer from another. Alternatively, there are a range of third-party tools such as LogMeIn, Symantec's PCAnywhere, Citrix's GoToMyPC or WebEx's PCNow. These programs let you control a distant computer as if you were sitting at the keyboard so that you can work at your office computer even when you're away from the office.
Remote Desktop services can be a little sluggish when running over the internet, so they might be overkill if you only want to check your email and edit your documents. You wouldn't want to work in a Remote Desktop session for hours at a time. Setting up secure email and document access is perhaps more practical. Remote Desktop is best reserved for when you need to access applications or services which are only available on your desktop computer back at the office.
Stay in sync
Synchronising folders between your computers is an easy way to edit documents from your work computer without going to the hassle of running Remote Desktop.
You'll find a range of Cloud sync services which can run in the background on your computer, monitoring specific folders and automatically uploading new or changed files. Those documents can also be copied to your other computers and handheld devices, meaning you can work on the road but still have the latest copies at your fingertips when you get back to your desk.
Cloud sync options include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive and Apple iCloud. You'll also find business-focused options such as SugarSync and Box.net. Some Cloud services can also sync your email, calendar and contacts between your computers and handheld gadgets.
Office in the Cloud
Rather than sync Office files it might be easier to keep them online and edit them from anywhere using a Cloud-based Office suite.
Cloud-based Office suites include Microsoft’s Office Web Apps, Google Docs, Zoho and ThinkFree. Office Web Apps ties in with Microsoft Office, letting you edit files on your computer or in the Cloud. Microsoft's SkyDrive desktop app can back up your desktop documents to the Cloud and your Cloud documents to your desktop as well as sync files between your computers.
Google Drive desktop software can back up your desktop files to the Cloud and sync files between your computers, but it doesn't download copies of your Google Docs files to your computer. Microsoft Office files uploaded to Google Drive must be converted before they can be edited.
How do you stay connected when you're on the road? Is it time to embrace the Cloud?
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