- ✓$10 (~£6.25) per month covers three host PCs
- ✓easy to set up
- ✓fast file transfers
- ✓provides remote access to Outlook and Outlook Express mail.
- ✕Only supported email clients are Outlook and Outlook Express
- ✕can’t fine-tune file-access privileges beyond the folder level
- ✕no phone support
- ✕no true remote control.
Despite positioning itself as a close competitor to GoToMyPC, LapLink Everywhere 1.5 is not at all the same type of software. GoToMyPC lets you operate a computer from a distance, whereas the low-cost LapLink Web service only lets you transfer files and read email between a Windows host and another Web-enabled device -- be it a computer, a handheld or a cellphone. If that's all you need to stay productive on the road, then LapLink Everywhere is a great deal at $10 (~£6.25) per month or $90 (~£56) per year for up to three host PCs, as opposed to $20 (~£12.50) per month for one PC running GoToMyPC. But if you need true remote-control capabilities to run, say, Microsoft Word from a computer that doesn't have Word installed or collect email using a client other than Outlook or Outlook Express, then you’ll need the pricier GoToMyPC or a more traditional remote-access package.
Setup & interface
Installing LapLink Everywhere on your host system(s) is simple: a wizard walks you through the configuration process, and the only decision you'll have to make is whether you want to access Outlook or Outlook Express accounts on the host PC. Like GoToMyPC, LapLink Everywhere requires that the host has an always-on connection to the Internet -- a dial-up link just won't cut it, as the connection will make the transfer process unbearably slow. Finally, the host must be running Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000 or XP. If your host system is a Mac, you're out of luck. Once you've set up your host PC, you’re ready to connect to it remotely using another computer, a mobile phone or a Web-enabled handheld. After supplying your (user-defined) username and password, secure access to the host PC is provided, whereupon the LapLink Everywhere interface appears within the remote browser. Navigation buttons along the left-hand side access your email, contacts and files. When you click the email icon, the largest area of the browser page displays the contents where you can view, modify or create new email.
Although LapLink Everywhere doesn't provide total remote PC control (as does GoToMyPC), LapLink Everywhere does allow some limited remote control for Outlook-based email tasks. This software will appeal to those who rely on Outlook (97/98/2000/2002) and Outlook Express 5.0 or later for much of their productivity work. LapLink Everywhere's interface lets you read Outlook and Outlook Express messages, send and retrieve mail, view contacts and the Outlook calendar, create new contacts and appointments, and view and create notes and to-dos inside Outlook. The remote computer, thankfully, doesn't need to have Outlook or Outlook Express installed for you to perform these tasks. However, you won't see the familiar Outlook/Outlook Express interface on the remote computer. Instead, LapLink Everywhere opens the emailer on the host, and then renders the data -- whether a message or the calendar -- in HTML, so that it shows up on the remote computer's browser. Also, you can't view email attachments without first downloading them onto the remote computer. LapLink Everywhere offers some additional tools, too, but most of them, including the ability for users to fill out templates stored on the host, will appeal to business users only. LapLink provides three templates for updating boilerplate information in presentations, and -- with some effort -- you can make more of your own. LapLink Everywhere also offers a way for the host computer to connect to SQL databases. What's missing, of course, is any actual remote control of the host. LapLink Everywhere will let you download and upload files to and from your host system and check your email, but that's about it. You'll also need to replicate your software on the remote computer if you want to print remote files locally.
In our performance tests, LapLink Everywhere's file-transfer speed proved impressive -- we credit the SpeedSync technology that LapLink borrows from its own LapLink Gold file-transfer program for this. Although it usually worked as advertised, there were moments when we were unable to access our host, and any troubleshooting we did was in vain. We regained the link by rebooting our remote computer and, at other times, simply by clicking the Everywhere interface link again. LapLink’s technical support attributed this condition to our host's relatively slow (50Kbps) Internet connection. If the remote computer is running Internet Explorer and Windows, an ActiveX applet transfers files. A LapLink-like window displays the files of both systems, and -- just as with GoToMyPC -- you can drag and drop files between machines to initiate a transfer. We had no trouble accessing LapLink Everywhere from a remote computer located behind a firewall, or running it on a host that was similarly defended. To keep traffic private between remote and host, LapLink uses industry-standard 128-bit SSL encryption. But although you can allow remote users other than yourself to access your host computer, the privileges that you'll have to set up aren't granular enough. File-access privileges, for example, stop at the folder level, so you can't selectively offer or block access to just one file in a folder -- it's all or nothing. One of the best things about LapLink Everywhere is that a single subscription -- $10 (~£6.25) per month, $90 (~£56) for one year -- lets you install the program on up to three different hosts. That way, you can slap the software on your desktop at home and at work, then put it on a notebook, too, and access all three whenever you need. And you can't beat the price when comparing LapLink to GoToMyPC.
Service & support
Unfortunately, there's no phone support for LapLink Everywhere -- a major drawback. Instead, you must submit a help-desk report from the LapLink support Web site. However, for minor problems such as error messages, the online chat should do the trick. When we used chat, we got solid answers -- and we got them fast. LapLink Everywhere doesn't include a built-in help file, either, nor does the online FAQ offer a search tool. You have to scroll through the Q&A, hoping to find something that meets your needs. With its more than 20 years of business experience, LapLink could have chosen to provide its customers with better service.