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Four ways to sync your computers

How to put every file at your fingertips

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Transferring files is a pain. Faster Internet connections and bigger e-mail in-boxes allowed many people to simply send themselves documents and retire clunky floppy disks and one-time-use CD-Rs. But it’s still a chore to move documents from one computer to another. From a home PC to the office. From your desktop to your laptop.

While there’s no single solution for always having your files at your fingertips, many services have tackled the problem from different angles. Here are some of the best:

Windows Live Sync: Microsoft’s free service automatically moves files from one computer to another.
Interested? First, download the Sync software on each computer. (It works on PCs and Macs.) Then select a folder that you want mirrored on both machines. Every time you save a file to that folder – let’s say a work presentation that you were polishing up at home – the system instantly sends a duplicate version through the Internet to the other computer. That means no more “I forgot it at home!” moments.

Live Sync works really well for individuals, but it can get confused when multiple people try editing a file at the same time. Also, the system only works when both computers are turned on and hooked up to the Internet.

If that’s too much to ask, Microsoft has another, similar tool: Live Mesh. This does pretty much the same thing, but instead of immediately transferring the files, it houses them on Microsoft’s servers. You can then log in from any computer (or mobile phone) and sync at your leisure. The downside: There’s a cap on how much Microsoft will hold onto at any one time.

Both syncing programs have the added bonus of automatically backing up your work.

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