Renting software over the Web isn't just for companies. Individuals who are on the road a lot and switch between different computers can now rent a so-called virtual desktop from Magically Inc. Its MagicalDesk service lets you store and view your important data files (any of 250 types for PC, Mac and Unix programs), calendar, schedule and to-do list, as well as send and receive e-mail--all using nothing more than your Web browser (as long as it supports JavaScript and frames) on any computer.

Simply dial into the Web, and you're at work. It also syncs up information with your desktop, laptop or PalmPilot, and allows others with the right password to view your files. An introductory no-frills service is available at no charge; the full service costs $5 per month with 20MB storage or $10 for 50MB. For more information, visit http://www.magicaldesk.com

John Verity reported and edited for 10 years at Electronic News, Datamation and Business Week. Since 1997, he has been freelancing from his Brooklyn, New York, home.