Automatic file syncing is one of the most time-saving computer tricks I’ve ever learned. Back when I was in school and early in my writing career, I dealt with a lot of Word documents and excel spreadsheets. It was always a pain to transfer these documents from one computer to the other.
For example, if I went on vacation or wanted to stretch out on the laptop, I would have to either e-mail the document to myself or stick it on a USB drive. Then when I returned to my main work computer, I had to reconcile all these different file versions by hand. It was not an optimal solution.
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A few years ago, I decided to give online file syncing a try. There was this new “Dropbox” service that nobody had heard of and it promised to keep computer files synced between all my computers. I tried it and it was awesome. Every time I saved a Word document on one computer, that document automatically showed up on every other computer. With file syncing, I can now switch computers at will and always have the most current version of every document available.
If you haven’t give file syncing a try yet, it’s very worthwhile. You can try these services for free before you pay anything. To be frank, I’ve been using file sync for a number of years now and still haven’t had to pay anything.
Online File Storage Companies
Dropbox is no longer the only player in the storage game. There are now several major companies that offer free storage space and automatic file syncing. A few of the most popular include the following:
Getting started is a simple process of visiting a company’s website and signing up for a free storage account. From there, you can download the software and install it on your computer. You are then free to specify a folder on your local machine to act as the sync folder. Next, you download the same software onto every other computer that you own. Log in with your account information and your computers will all be linked to the same cloud.
Online file storage companies are the easiest way to get started with file syncing. They are free to try and the software works automatically in the background. You can also work on files while offline and then when you reconnect to the internet, your files will be updated automatically.
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Remote Access File Syncing
There are a number of remote access tools that allow you to share and sync files between two or more computers that you own. These tools use your own storage space and the internet to create a secure link between two of your own computers. This allows you to share and store files without having to pay for a third-party cloud company.
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Here are two popular remote access tools:
- Pogoplug PC
Pogoplug uses computer software to connect two or more of your computers via the internet. You install the software on each computer and then you can link those computers together via the internet. The iTwin uses a USB flash drive that you connect to both computers for online file sharing.
The advantage to using these services is that you only pay a one-time fee and then you are no longer bound by contracts or storage limitations. The downside is that both computers have to be connected to the internet at the same time for file sharing to work. This is a major disadvantage, so keep it in mind when you make your choice between remote access and online file storage.
I personally prefer online file storage because of the “always-on” file syncing. It’s nice not having to worry about which computer is on and trying to connect both of them to the internet. I can leave my laptop offline for months at a time and then turn it on once to sync everything back up to date. So if you’re stuck between choices, my recommendation is to go with one of the three companies listed at the top of this page.