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Review: Laplink Provides Networking For Small Business And Home

Mar 31, 2006 (11:03 AM EST)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=184419793


Laplink is one of the original PC connectivity software companies. Initially, its software allowed you to connect two computers using the only connections commonly available at the time; the serial and parallel ports. The boxed software even included color-coded cables to make life simple for the uninitiated user needing to move files between machines.

Things have changed over the years, and with the wide variety of connectivity options available, serial and parallel data transfer are not typically considered viable options. Not willing to give up easily, Laplink has introduced new products over the years; its latest set of offerings still reflects the company's core mission of connectivity, but goes beyond file transfer. We review five of these applications, and tell you how they measure up in terms of functionality and usability.

PCMover is a special purpose version of Laplink intended to automate transferring your programs and files from one computer to another. The download version of PCmover costs $39.95 and can be used to move from one source PC to multiple destinations. Multi-PC packages are available bringing the price below $30 per license.

Laplink Gold 12 is the latest version of the original Laplink product. It lets you connect two computers via a variety of connection types in order to transfer files, chat, remote control, and perform several other functions. Laplink Gold 12 is available for download for $110.

PCdefense is Laplink's entry to the anti-malware/protection market, available as a download for $45.

Laplink Everywhere lets you connect to the main functions of your computer (email, contacts, files, notes, etc.) using nearly any Internet connected device, including cell phones. It is priced as a service starting at $9 per month.

PDAsync is an enhanced replacement for Microsoft's ActiveSync. Download it for $50.

Over the next several pages we provide you with the details for each of these products.




PCmover

The need to upgrade from one PC to another, in order to upgrade the operating system, add new hardware capacities, or move up to the latest processor, is something most users dread. At best it means reinstalling your applications and moving your data files. More often it means remembering which applications and versions you've installed, finding the original CDs, registration numbers, updates, and then recreating user settings.

PCmover is designed to handle the process for you, as long as you are moving to the same or newer operating system (Microsoft Windows only). Transfer options include connecting through a standard Ethernet network, USB, serial, or parallel cable, or removable media including CD-R/RW and DVD-R/RW.


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While I usually opt to reinstall applications to a clean operating system so that any registry issues or accumulated operating system problems are left behind, PCmover proved to be quicker and much easier than reinstalling, patching, and reestablishing user options.




Laplink Gold 12

If you're charged with supporting remote computers, you know there are several remote access solutions on the market. Laplink Gold 12 builds on Microsoft's native Remote Desktop and Windows Authentication functionality. By combining these facilities that are familiar to system administrators with Laplink's new virus scan, and allowing Internet connectivity, the package should be a natural upgrade for administrators.

While Laplink Gold 12 incorporates Microsoft's native (and stable) Remote Desktop protocol for those operating systems that support it, its original remote desktop is still available for connecting to older versions of operating systems. I installed the program on both my Dell desktop running Windows XP Professional, and my Toshiba laptop running Windows XP Home. Installation was simple but the licensing process was a bit convoluted. A quick chat with Laplink tech support put me on the right track, and I was able to make connections through my LAN, and also via the Internet.


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A significant advantage to using Laplink is its range of configurations. If you routinely connect to multiple computers, you can customize each connection based on what features are to be supported. The combinations can combine functionality including file transfer, remote control, text chat, etc. as needed.




PCdefense

PCdefense is a combination security package that scans for spyware, keyloggers, rootkits, and viruses. It also includes a system backup tool that can create and update an image of your computer for disaster recovery purposes. In addition there are a number of configuration functions that let you monitor and change such things as browser cookies, your IP host list, programs that are set to run when Windows starts, and browser settings.

I found PCdefense easy to set up, but like any keylogger or spyware monitor, the program asks permission to run any program that triggers its detection. Once I authorized the programs I use regularly, the program only alerted me when I was installing new applications, or when there was an actual attempt to hook my keyboard or modify a registry setting, meaning it was doing its job.


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The disaster recovery function creates a compressed image of one disk on another. In these days of cheap disk drives, this is a great way to keep your primary disk safely backed up. You can alternatively save your image to a series of CDs or DVDs. The only complaint I have is that a new image is created each time the program is run, rather than simply updating the existing image. Also, I wasn't able to save the backup configuration so it could be run again with the same settings. That made the process more manual than I would have liked to see.




Laplink Everywhere

Laplink Everywhere is designed to let you interact with your office computer via an Internet connection. It is sold as a service on a monthly basis, and provides the connectivity between your desk computer and remote device, eliminating problems with firewalls and temporary IP addresses. In practice, you log into your account at Laplink where a list of your currently active computers is shown (the service supports multiple computers under a single account). You can select the computer you want to connect with, and then select the service you want to use.


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Laplink Everywhere is my favorite remote access program because it supports a wide variety of devices and functions. If you're using a laptop over a broadband connection, you can use the remote desktop function to bring your office PC virtually to your laptop. If you don't need the desktop and applications, you can simply get text versions of your Outlook email, contacts, notes, tasks, and calendar. You can also browse your disk drives and download files through the text interface.

Where the lightweight text interface really shines is on a cell phone or pocket PC where viewing the full desktop on the small screen is nearly useless. It's quick and easy to connect. And dealing with e-mail is fast without the graphical interface.




PDAsync

In an increasingly mobile world, synchronizing between multiple handhelds and cell phones can be very complicated. PDAsync provides a simple, one-click synchronization of your contacts, calendar, tasks, emails, and notes between your mobile devices and popular applications on your computer.

PDAsync goes Microsoft's ActiveSync one (or two) better by supporting more applications and synchronizing faster. While ActiveSync only supports Microsoft applications, PDAsync also supports Lotus Notes, Lotus Organizer, and ACT!. It also connects to Palm OS devices, Sony Ericsson IRMC, and Sierra Wireless Voq phones. One drawback for users of the latest Windows based phones is that while PDAsync does support the Pocket PC platform, it won't run on Windows Mobile v5. No word from Laplink as to when their code might be updated to fix that shortcoming.


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Each of these applications is worth a look if you are in the market for the particular function. Be sure to take advantage of the Laplink's trial period just to be sure the application you want is compatible with your devices, and does what you expect it to do.