How to Control your PC or Mac from the Road

Business travel can be a hassle, and not just because your carry-on bag won’t fit in the overhead compartment. All too often, you find yourself needing access to a file you left behind or a program you don’t have on your tablet or laptop.

If only scientists could figure out a way to beam you from one place to another, Star Trek transporter-style. Until that day, there’s a solution that’s nearly as good (and less likely to cause some crazy parallel universe accident only Scotty could fix). It’s called remote access software, and it lets you connect to and control another PC just as though you were sitting right in front of it.

That’s a plus for road warriors, who can now tap into the office desktop to retrieve a critical file, run a program that has no tablet equivalent or even rescue a co-worker who needs some remote tech support.

To tackle these and other productivity challenges, check out LogMeIn Free. It provides easy access to a remote computer running Windows or Mac OS and it runs on desktops, laptops, tablets and even smartphones. Plus, true to its name, it’s free!

Here’s how remote access takes the worry and hassle out of your business trips.

Travel light – really light

The average laptop weighs 5-6 pounds. Even Ultrabooks tip the scales at around three. If you’re trying to travel as light as possible and get through airport security with the least amount of hassle, consider leaving the laptop behind.

Crazy? Not if you’re primarily concerned with keeping up with e-mail. Your smartphone can handle that duty. If and when you need a computer, just hit the hotel’s business center or an Internet café, then use LogMeIn Free to log into your machine back at the office. You’ll have full access to your programs and data, but with zero extra travel weight. Or use LogMeIn’s free app.

Don’t let a dead laptop slow you down

The proposal is due tomorrow and your laptop battery just died. Luckily, there’s a backup of the file—but it’s back in the office. Not a problem: All you need is a co-worker’s laptop or any other borrowed PC, and you can connect to home base to get that proposal done.

If the lender balks at what you’re doing (citing strict company IT rules and whatnot), explain that LogMeIn Free requires nothing to be installed (it runs inside the Web browser) and leaves no trace of itself once you sign out. And it uses 256-bit encryption, so they needn’t worry about security.

Avoid security breaches when you travel

A lost or stolen laptop could spell disaster, especially if it holds all your professional and private files. One way to thwart would-be thieves: keep your valuable data elsewhere. Instead of carrying all the important stuff on your laptop, just use the laptop as a “dumb terminal” to connect with your secure PC back at your desk. That way, all you need on your mobile machine is a browser; everything else (your programs, files, etc.) is safe on the office computer. Nothing dumb about that!

Retrieve a forgotten file

You worked for weeks to create the ultimate PowerPoint presentation, then left it behind on your office desktop. What you need is a way to bridge the thousand-or-so miles between here and there.

Using LogMeIn Free you can connect remotely, find that file and e-mail it to yourself. Or upload it to a cloud storage service for retrieval from your laptop. Or even run the presentation right from the office PC.

Work from home

You want to get home in time to see the kids’ soccer game, but you’ve got a mission-critical project you need to finish before tomorrow morning. Go ahead and cut out early; you can use LogMeIn Free to access the office computer later that night, just as if you were still in the office. Job preservation: check. Good parenting: check plus.

Shut down your PC from the palm of your hand

Did you forget to shut down your desktop before leaving the office? That’s not only a waste of electricity but also a potential security risk. Sure, you could call and ask a co-worker or assistant to take care of it—assuming you remember during business hours.

If not, just grab your iPhone or iPad and launch the free LogMeIn app for iOS. Connect to your desktop, and put it to sleep with just a few taps. If you need access to that PC later on, LogMeIn supports Wake On LAN, meaning you can remotely power on a PC that’s in sleep mode.

Fetch an old email from your inbox

Thanks to smartphones, you can easily access your email when you travel. But what if you need access to old, archived messages? Those might not be so accessible on the road, especially if you use a program like Outlook to organize old mail into folders.

Just because you’re away from Outlook doesn’t mean you have to leave it behind. When the time comes that you need to look up an old purchase order from a client or a directive from the boss, dial into your desktop from your laptop or smartphone, open your mail client and dig out the message(s) you need. It’s like having an email time machine in your carry-on.

Save the day with remote tech support

You’re the one friends and co-workers always call for help with computer problems, right? Undoubtedly, you’ve learned that trying to troubleshoot over the phone can be maddening for both parties. The only truly effective solution is for you to sit at their keyboard.

If they have LogMeIn Free installed, you can do that remotely. If they don’t, well, you’ll have to walk them through that part over the phone (luckily it’s easy). Then just log into that troublesome PC, take control and work your tech-support magic.

Needless to say, one simple tool can take a lot of the hassles out of business travel. Before you hit the road, install LogMeIn Free on any laptops or desktops you might want to access. Then, and only then, can you defy those snooty scientists and be in two places at once.

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