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Remote Possibilities

Not in your office? Remote control software makes it simple to access your computer.

It's the day before a big presentation, and you'd planned to sit at your office computer all day to get everything ready. But, as Murphy's Law would have it, you're stuck at home because your child has the flu. Or you're on the road, and you desperately need a file from your home computer. In the past, these situations might have seemed unmanageable. Today, with the help of remote control software, you can be virtually anywhere and have access to your home or office PC. Of course, you'll have to be prepared by pre-installing remote control software on each of the machines you're using. In this column, we take a look at three top remote control programs: Symantec's PCANYWHERE32, Traveling Software's LapLink and Microcom's Carbon Copy 32. All are 32-bit programs that work under Windows 95 or Windows NT.

These programs share the same basic functionality. Their main prupose is to give users an easy way to access a remote computer and use it as if you were actually sitting in front of it. After dialing into the computer via modem (these programs also let you connect to computers via the Internet), you can open programs and files, make changes to them, save them, move them and more. If an employee is sitting at the computer you're accessing, you can chat with him or her in real time.

The other important function shared by these programs is something called "file transfer." If you use two computers--one at home and one in the office, for example-- you're probably aware of the wide array of problems that can arise when you've worked on a file in two places. For example, you may leave an important file behind or unknowingly access an older version of a file. By using a program with file transfer capabilities, you can do more than simply copy files from one machine to another (a process that can lead to errors when the wrong file is copied over the right file). Instead, a file transfer program manages the process, making it easy for users to see what files are being transferred to and from each machine. As notebook computers become more and more popular traveling companions for businesspeople, file transfer is becoming increasingly important. In fact, Microsoft includes Briefcase, its own file transfer program, with Windows 95.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Remote Possibilities.

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