I often travel to visit clients or conduct maritime salvage operations and a mobile device is always with me. However, at times the files I need are not always with me and I can't always have my wife or coworker find them and email them out. The options for mobile device users needing to access their home or work PC are expanding as more people start to use mobile devices and as mobile devices become more powerful. I can access files stored on networked drives at my company using a web interface through Novell Groupwise, but I cannot access my personal work computer and also often need to access my home computer. A couple of services I have used successfully to access this computer and my home PC are Avvenu and Laplink Everywhere.
I started using Avvenu a few months ago and found their free remote access solution easy to install on my work and home PC and easy to use on web-enabled devices. With Avvenu you can access up to four of your computers via the internet. You can also share files and folders with people you authorize, which is a great way to share photos with others without having to spend hours burning disks for them. Files can be viewed and used right on your mobile device if you have the software loaded that supports the file type (i.e. you can work with a Word document using Word Mobile or Documents To Go). Another great feature of Avvenu is support for Google Desktop Search so you can find the file you need on the road. After you get Avvenu installed you simply point your mobile device to https://share.avvenu.com/login/ and sign into your account to see your connected PCs.
Today, Avvenu announced the immediate availability of a couple new features, Guaranteed Access and My Media Play. Guaranteed Access solves one of my main issues with my work computer that I log off of every day since you can now access all your files even when you are logged off or your computer is turned off. This is a new paid subscription option that provides you with 5GB (US$3.99/month or US$29.99/year) or 10GB (US$6.99/month or US$54.98/year) of storage space to sync your files to their servers for access at all times.
The other new feature, My Media Play, is part of their free Basic service option and allows you to access your music collection of MP3 and WMA files and play them on your Windows Mobile 5.0 or Series 60 device. Palm devices are not yet supported, except the Treo 700w, due to their media player limitations.
Another very powerful client that I tried in the last couple of months is Laplink Everywhere. Laplink Everywhere provides more functionality than Avvenu when accessing your PC with options to remotely control your PC, perform Google Desktop searches (like Avvenu), and access and update your Outlook e-mail, contacts, calendar, and tasks. With the remote control option you can actually run applications on the road without having it installed locally on your computer or device. You will have to have the computer you are accessing on and be logged in though, which presented some issues for me trying to access my home computer when my wife or kids logged in.
Laplink Everywhere has no free basic feature like Avvenu and costs from US$8.95 to US$10.95 per month (depends on how much remote control functionality you need) for a single user license.
I personally no longer subscribe and use Laplink Everywhere as the free Basic option of Avvenu has worked well for most of my needs. I may add the new Guaranteed Access option though if I find I need to access files when the computer is off. You can try both solutions for free and I recommend you give them both a chance to see what works best for you. There are also other remote file access options that work with mobile devices, but these are the only two I have personal experience with at the moment.
I'll talk more about accessing your media for entertainment purposes in another blog post since I know those of us who travel on the road enjoy listening to music, watching TV, watching movies, and viewing photos when we are away.