Last week, in my weekly online column, I suggested a slightly unorthodox plan for bringing your boss around to telework. What I failed to mention was the risk involved. If you leave a critical file behind in the office, or rely on a buggy home PC that goes awry the very day you work from home, you'll inadvertently confirm management's worst fears: that telework has stranded you at home with nothing to do. It's a good thing there are two neat tools that take the risk out of shuttling work between two places.
For full-time laptop users, Mobiliti Inc.'s Network Unplugged (US$59.95 for single user; $124.95 for network version) is a file-synchronization and back-up tool that replicates the look and feel of the network on your laptop or remote desktop so you can work offline same as you would online. It replicates network files, structure and look and feel onto your laptop, maintaining a consistent environment. The new version, 3.0, includes an enhancement to the synchronization technology called Intelligent Delta Selection Process that ensures only the portions of files that have changed are transmitted, speeding performance when backing up big data files like your Outlook PST.
If you've got a desktop PC in the office, you're either e-mailing your work home or toting a floppy or ZIP disk. Worse, you're mixing work and personal files on the home system, which could put your corporate data at risk. An intriguing alternative is GoToMyPC. An application service provider service from Expert City that will launch in May, GoToMyPC lets you dial in to your corporate system from any machine with Internet access - be it your home PC, a system at a client site, in an Internet cafe or hotel's business office - and remotely access your corporate desktop, files and applications just as if you were at your desk. Of course, the system you're accessing needs to be up and running and connected to the Internet - that's why the service is geared to part-time teleworkers who have a broadband-connected PC at home.
Setup involves registering the PC you want to remotely access at the GoToMyPC Web site. The technology compresses, encrypts and passes screen images at a fast rate, according to Brian Donohoo, Expert City's senior vice president of products. The data stream is encrypted at 128 bits, and your user account is password-protected, as is the target PC. What's more, the service lets you remotely access applications on your desktop over a VPN, so you can use applications on your home system that aren't supported by your home PC's platform, such as mainframe and Linux. This method lets you keep all your files and applications on one system; you're just accessing it from two places.
Right now, you can try out a beta version for free. Come May 1, when the service launches commercially, it'll cost between $9.95 and $24.95 per user per month. Corporate pricing is structured per number of PCs enabled, but Donohoo says support for 10 remote workers will cost about $250 per month.
Both Network Unplugged and GoToMyPC come in stand-alone and network versions. So you can buy the stand-alone for yourself first, then when the time is right, pitch it to your IT manager for the network.
Kistner is the managing editor of the Net.Worker section. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.