Combine Google Docs with Microsoft Office, Courtesy of SyncDocs

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I'm finally starting to use Google Docs for word processing and creating spreadsheets on a regular basis. Like a lot of users, however, I'm still more comfortable working in Microsoft Office on my desktop. Google Docs however, provides a very handy service in that you can sign in from any computer anywhere in the world and access all your files. So how can you get the best of both worlds--comfortable desktop editing and the convenience of having your files in the cloud? A program called Syncdocs (free) has the solution.

Syncdocs keeps your documents and spreadsheets up-to-date without lifting a finger.
Like the popular applications Dropbox and SugarSync, Syncdocs quietly uploads and downloads your files in the background. Whether you're editing an existing file or creating a new one, Syncdocs keeps a watchful eye on your folders and springs into action whenever a change is detected.

The setup process is very simple, with little more to do than clicking a few "next" buttons. You'll need a Google account, of course--which you can sign up for on this page. Microsoft's .NET 3.5 Framework is also required, but Syncdocs will automatically perform the installation if your computer doesn't already have it.

Once Syncdocs is installed, you'll be asked to enter your username and password. Once your credentials have been verified by Google's server, any files you current have stored on Google Docs will be downloaded to the folder Syncdocs creates on your hard drive (you can customize its location at any time). You'll also notice a new drive letter on your My Computer screen (usually G:) which provides quick access to your newly-attached Google Docs cloud storage.

If you collaborate with other users on your documents, Syncdocs can process revision history and keep files and folders others share with you synchronized as well. You can even tell the program to open supported file types stored on your computer (such as those in your My Documents folder) using Google Docs in your Web browser for viewing or editing. If you're trying to break completely free of desktop office applications, it's a feature that will certainly help you make the move.

There's an awful lot to like about Syncdocs. In fact, the only thing I don't like about it has nothing to do with the program itself. As with any synchronization program, you're at the mercy of your Internet provider when it comes to uploading--and my ISP greatly restricts upload speeds. That can make for some lengthy transfer times, but it's worth being patient if it means I know my files are up-to-date both offline and online.

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