Maybe you’re working the tradeshow at the industry’s big annual convention for the next four days. Perhaps it’s a long-planned romantic vacation to an exotic resort in the Caribbean. Or maybe you’re just calling it a night and are heading home for the evening. No matter what your situation, there’s likely to be a time when you aren’t at the office, but you need to access something that’s on your office computer.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options for working and being productive even when you aren’t in the office-and none of them involves packing up your office computer and lugging it with you everywhere you go! Depending on whether you’re going on an extended trip or just wanting to work on a few files after the kids have gone to bed, you have a variety of ways to get to the information and applications you need:
USB Drives and Email Attachments
If you only have a file or two you need to work on, the average USB hard drive (also known as a ‘thumb drive’) can likely hold the files that you need-and it fits conveniently in your purse or pocket. If you don’t have a USB drive handy, you can also consider sending a copy of the files to a personal email address as a viable option.
A word of warning on these methods, however, is that it pays to check that everything transferred like you anticipated. There’s nothing worse than getting home, finishing dinner and sitting down to work for the night, only to find that your email attachments haven’t arrived, or your USB drive has only one of the files you need. Double-check that you really have what you need before you leave the office and you can save yourself a drive back that night-or a mad dash early in the morning.
File Syncing Software
For people who work remotely on a regular basis, like an executive with a busy travel schedule, syncing files may be the best option. File syncing software basically creates a mirror image of the files, folders and directories on your office machine directly onto your laptop. File syncing software, however, only syncs files-it does not copy programs from one computer to another. Therefore, ensure that your laptop computer has all of the software you need, or otherwise you may find yourself with the file you need to work on, but no method of working on it.
Virtual Private Networks
Virtual private networks, or VPNs, allow for a secure connection directly between your laptop at home (or in the cabana on the beach in Cancun!) and the network in your office. A virtual private network offers small- to medium-sized businesses a way to provide remote workers with secure access to their important work-related files, contacts and applications, day or night.
Virtual private networks allow workers not only to access files, but to actually work on the files on their desktop computer. This is a benefit for a user who may have a program installed on his work computer but not on his home computer-for example, if you need to add a page to a PDF file but only have the free version of Acrobat installed on your laptop computer, you can access your full version of Acrobat on your work computer and add the page. Be advised, however, that working via a VPN is never as fast as working on the actual computer. Memory intensive tasks like graphics or video applications are likely to be especially slow.
GotoMyPC, Access Remote PC and other remote access software programs
Need to ensure that five copies of the Smith proposal are ready as soon as you arrive in the office tomorrow morning? No problem. Like VPNs, GoToMyPC and other remote access software programs allow users to access files, applications and even printers. You can make changes to the proposal and print the five copies you need for tomorrow, all while sitting on your couch in your living room.
There are a number of software packages designed specifically to make connecting to your work PC or Mac as simple as clicking a button. Because the software connects to the specific machine rather than the office network, users who are planning on accessing their computers remotely must ensure that their work computer is left on-otherwise, a connection won’t be able to be made.
About The Guest Author: Scott Gordon is the Chief Operating Officer at Dataprise, where he oversees strategy and operations for the company’s technical services. Dataprise is a full-service technical support and IT services company, providing managed services and IT consulting to growing businesses in Maryland, DC and Virginia.