Do you work on different computers at different places? If you do, then you must always miss things that you have left on the other computer. I did! I used to miss relevant information from my home notebook when I am working on the office PC. Sometimes I jot down a phone number or some other information on my office PC and then look for it when I am home. These scenarios are quite frustrating. For last few months I have gotten rid of all these issues. How ?
There are several principles that we need to look at before we come to a solution
First Principle: You are connected to the Internet and all you data can be synched via Internet.
Second Principle: Even though you are connected to Internet all your devices are not always online. For example when you come to office you home PC might be or might not be online. A solution to this scenario need to be provided.
Third Principle: Sometimes just file/folder sync is not enough, you need remote access to the computer and you always do not have a public IP and sometime you are behind a private IP and a firewall and you still need proper access.
Fourth Principle: Sometimes you may need to access your files from the web when you are using them from someone else’s computer.
File and Folder Synchronization with Live Mesh
Microsoft Live Mesh (http://www.mesh.com) is so far the best free file and folder synchronizer that I have seen. It offers free 5 Gigabyte storage space. It lets you synchronize folders between multiple computers, not just two computers. It will let you sync between a MAC and a PC very soon . Microsoft is also going to release a version for windows mobile soon that will let you add a windows device to live mesh.
In Live Mesh every PC is called a device. You need to add you PC as a device to Live Mesh. When you try to do this, Live Mesh will allow you to download a client software that you will need to install on you computer. You can then select a folder to sync using Mesh. One of cool features of Mesh is that you can select which devices to synch with the folder, and you even omit devices that you do not want that folder synched. You can choose the PCs where the folder will be synched. Also you can choose if the folder will be synched to web under your account. Now all you have to do is put files in the folder and live mesh will sync with web to upload your files, and also it will update changes as well.
One good feature here is that you do not need to explicitly sync information, Mesh will do it. Lets think of a scenario where I have put a document in a Mesh synched folder at home. When I open my office PC then Mesh client software will automatically download that document and put it in the proper folder. The experience is seamless. I even used it to put my C# project solutions in synced folders so that I can work on them seamlessly from home and work. Live mesh also allows you to remotely connect to you PC, but I failed to get that working properly at it is still in tech preview.
1. Live Mesh allows you to sync you folders seamlessly
2. The folder data can be downloaded by logging into Live Mesh from any browser so that you data is available online ( of course you decide if its is public or private)
3. You can also sync other softwares that cannot be synched normally and have no web access. For example I use TodoList (open source versatile hierarchical list) for Getting Things Done and managing my work and I use KeePass ( open source password manager) to store various passwords to different websites, email, and software licenses that I bought. Both of these softwares do not have web access where it can sync. But I keep the todolist files and the encrypted password files in the synced folder of Mesh. That way these software data are synched between different computers.
3a. If I am traveling to different country and do not have access to my PC I can just download the files to different computer and download the software and access from there.
By the way, Live Mesh supports sharing files with other people as well.
Notes synchronization with Evernote
Evernote2 was a amazing piece of software for organizing information but it was a software that you had to buy. Evernote3 is till in beta and has an awesome UI. I personally prefer it over Microsoft OneNote. Evernote (http://www.evernote.com) has the capability to read text from images, even handwritten text. You can use it to take a picture of the whiteboard and later search items that were written on the white board.
The coolest thing about Evernote is that you can synchronize the data. So this is what I do ...
Whenever I need write down some piece of information at office I use Evernote to write it down. Later I press the big “Synchronize” button and the notes are synced to the web.
Later when I come back home, I press the “Synchronize” button and I can see the notes that I have taken in office.
Unlike Evernote version 2, the current beta version 3 is free to use as long as you upload 40MB data max. 40 Megabyte gives you 19,000 typed notes, 250 web clips, 380 camera phone photos, 37 audio files or 10 high resolution photos. Since I do not need more that 40MB space each month ( just like free flickr – 30 MB limit) for notes I can use it for free.
Second ultra cool thing about this software is that I can just login online to the my Evernote account and then use that account to search my notes online. When you are traveling without your notebook, this is a cool feature.
Evernote even has mobile version for windows mobile and iPhone. Things can’t get any better than this.
Ultimate Remote Access, File transfer and VPN with TeamViewer
TeamViewer (http://www.teamviewer.com) is a software that just blew my mind away when a colleague introduced me to it. Stop buying any remote desktop software Now! Why ?
Because you can have a better software for personal use. TeamViewer lets you to connect to 5 PCs for free (personal use only). When you download the software you would be amazed to see that it is a download less that 2MB. When you run it, it will let you run in two different modes, one is run another is install. The run mode can be used to run the software and provide support. See the software screen in run mode (below). If you provide someone the computer ID and the password, then he will able remotely connect to you PC using his copy of TeamViewer. (See image below)
Now if you want to do remote access to your PC then you should install TeamViewer and then set a permanent password. Install it or just go to the options screen and make it start with windows and set a permanent password like this ...
Then from a remote computer type in the computer ID and password when prompted and then, Walla! You can see your screen and access it. If you need some files from you laptop at home just ask a someone at home to turn on the laptop and then you can remotely connect to it or you can just leave it running when you leave home.
Coolest Feature : Access behind private IP
I have tried many different software and none of those let me access my PC from a private IP. I had to forward the port from the public IP to the private IP etc. But you don’t have do any of that hassle from with TeamViewer.
You can also connect to transfer the files and transfer files between two computers when both of you are behind private IPs.
Presentation and VPN
You can also allow remote access to someone and demo from your computer. It also lets you run a VPN connection between the two computers.
When you are accessing remotely, you can also record the screen of the remote access PC and view it later.
These are the 3 software that I use to sync my life at home and at work and at other remote places. The combination of these 3 software have made my life a lot easier and simpler. I hope this makes your life easier and simpler as well.