Sync or Swim
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LapLink.com's products have most typically been used to sync one PC to another. But LapLink knows that not all your documents, files and folders are stored on your hard drive or a floppy-they're probably stored on the Web, too. ExpressLoader, one of the first products in LapLink's series of Internet file management tools, is designed to make online storage a cinch.
ExpressLoader is available through LapLink's online storage partners, which currently include Driveway, My Docs Online and Oracle. Although many of these companies' services are free, the ExpressLoader feature is available as part of their fee-based enhanced versions, like Premium My Docs Online, which starts at $34.95.
After a quick download, the program resides on your computer. The interface resembles that of Windows Explorer, making it easy to find your bearings. The windows allow you to navigate your way through the contents on your computer and your Web-based storage accounts. (You can navigate through multiple accounts while running ExpressLoader in just one window.) At its most basic, the application allows you to upload and download documents between your PC and your Web storage with a single click. And, although you can accomplish the same result without ExpressLoader, using it is much quicker than navigating through the Web site of your online storage provider.
But ExpressLoader doesn't stop there. One of its most useful features is SmartXchange, which allows you to sync files and folders on your hard drive with those in your Web-based storage accounts. You can upload files to the Internet, download them to your computer, or select to do both at the same time to ensure that both locations will have identical contents. You can schedule SmartXchange to recur in specific intervals, or you can choose to run it manually. The feature works quickly, even over a slow dial-up connection.
Speaking of dial-up connections, ExpressLoader has another feature that makes life without broadband more bearable: its SaveToNet feature, which allows you to download files or applications directly to your Web-based storage by simply clicking on any URL-linked file on the Web, without having to download it to your desktop. Of course, when you want to access the file, you'll need to download it to your PC-but you can store it in your Web folders until you have access to a speedier connection.
The bottom line? ExpressLoader may not be a necessity, but if you're a mobile professional, it will certainly come in handy.
Liane Gouthro, a former technology reporter at PCWorld.com, freelances from her home in Brookline, Massachusetts.