PCSync v3.0

Reviewed by: Howard Carson
Published by: Laplink, Inc.
Requires: 16M Ram, 45MB hard disk, VGA Monitor, CDROM, Windows 98 through XP

MSRP: $79.95

Being someone whose been using networks at work and home for many years, at first I wasn't sure what to make of this product. It seemed that most of what it can do, a networked person can already do. Then I got to thinking about SOHO users and folks that travel extensively. That's when it made sense to take another look at this utility hardware and software product.

The short list of things this software will allow you to do includes sharing your PC or just some folders with other PCSync users (Shared Folders), getting at your files from anywhere you can get an Internet connection (Surf Up), synchronizing files and folders between two computers (SmartXchange) and easing the move to a new computer by moving files and what Laplink calls personality settings from your old PC to your new one (PCMover). In addition, it includes MusicMover, an MP3 playlist and file manager.

One of the very nice things about the software is the flexibility with which you can perform various functions. It comes with a serial cable for direct connections between two PCs. When you register PCSync, you can order a USB cable for $19.95 from the company's website. If you need to direct connect to another PC on a continuing basis, I'd recommend the USB cable. It transfers data at about 5 Mbps and the serial cable at .4Mbps. Quite a difference. But you're not limited to direct connections. You can also perform the functions above over a LAN and the Internet.

The SmartXchange feature allows you to automate transfers of shared folders between two PCs. With this, you can keep a set of files synced between your PC at work and the laptop you travel with or your PC at home. This is a very nice way to ensure that budget spreadsheet you work on everywhere has the same data as the last time you edited it. You can set it up to sync in both directions or only one way. The first time you set up the synchronization the entire folder is transferred. After that, only the changes are sent, greatly reducing the time required to update. If you've ever struggled with the Briefcase that comes with Windows you will really like how this works.

The Surf Up feature goes a step further. It will allow you to get files from your shared folders on your work PC anywhere you can get online with either IE 4.0 and up or Netscape 6.0 and up. You configure the PC running PCSync with a unique name, user name and password. You can then access the box by visiting the SurfUp web site and entering the computer name you created. (The PC running PCSync needs to have an active Internet connection of course.) When Surf Up locates your PCSync PC, it'll prompt you to enter the user name and password you set up. Surf Up will then present your shared folders for you to access.

The PCMover feature is pretty slick. Say you've got a new PC and installed your OS and your favourite applications. You're pretty happy, but something's missing. All your favorites are gone from IE or Netscape, your files aren't there anymore, your Explorer settings are back at the default, even your wallpaper is gone. All that means you have to manually set up all that stuff again, or, use the PCMover to transfer most of your settings over to the new PC. It'll even transfer network settings for your TCP/IP, dial-up, and Netware Client 32 settings.

MusicMover is an organizer for your MP3 files. Via PCSync, it will also allow you to share your songs and playlists with other Pcsync users. The database will index your recordings and allow you to set filters for easy searching. It can even open your media player, load the playlist and play the files in track order.

While at first I was a bit hesitant about this product's usefulness in a serious working environment, I have to admit it's got features that the SOHO, traveller and even the system administrator can use.




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