• There are two ways to access computer files on one computer from another computer, using network technology. Both methods require broadband service; one method is free and included in Windows, but is limited in scope, while the other option is available by paid subscription and is unlimited in use. You can use either sharing method separately or in combination to make your mobile computing plan a reality.

    Windows Shared Documents Networking

    Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 each offer a free application for creating relationships between computers on the same physical network with the Network Set Up Wizard. This program, found under the Control Panel, associates computers that share a common local network router into a Workgroup. Once the workgroup is created, all the computers in the group are able to share documents and printers that are a part of the local network. These simple workgroups are limited, however. Users in the workgroup cannot access all documents on the other computers or use software applications installed on other machines. The only items that can be shared are those documents that are specifically stored in the "Shared Documents" folder on each machine.

    Establishing a Workgroup

    To establish a simple workgroup like this, turn off all antivirus and firewall programs temporarily. While connected to the Internet, navigate to "Control Panel/ Network Set Up Wizard." Give the first computer in your workgroup a distinct descriptive name, such as "JoeLaptop." Step through the wizard and name your network workgroup, such as "SmithNetwork." Give Windows permission to share certain files and printers on this machine. Apply and save the settings and reboot the computer. Apply the same sequence of steps on all the other machines in the network, giving each a distinct name and assigning them to your network workgroup. Eventually, when opening "My Network Places," you will be able to see all the computers in the workgroup that are currently online. Move any documents you desire to share amongst users to the "Network Places---Shared Documents" folder.

    Remote Operation Method

    There are also several software programs and services available which will create a network connection between two computers in remote locations. PCAnywhere, and are among the leaders in this software field. These programs make it possible for a remote user to log onto their LogMeIn account, for example, and make a direct connection with another PC, as long as that computer is associated with the LogMeIn user account, is turned on and is online. Unlike workgroup Shared Documents setups where access is limited, a LogMeIn account user has complete access to everything on the remote computer, including use of all the software on the remote machine. Remote access programs like this cost anywhere from $6 per month to $20 per month as of 2010 for each computer subscription.

    Setting Up A Remote Account

    Download and install the software of your choice to the computer you want to be able to access remotely. Enroll your email address and a password to gain access later. When finished, you will be able to remotely access the targeted computer from any computer anywhere by going to the software website and logging into your account. Remember that the target computer must be turned on and connected to the web for the remote session to connect successfully.

    Source: Setting Up a Home Network in XP Setting Up A Home Network in Vista Beginners Guide To Remote Access

    More Information: Remote Access Software Comparisons

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