General discussion

2 PCs but one set of data. Is it possible?

I have 1 desktop PC. Both my wife & I use it frequently enough so that we plan to buy a laptop so we can both work on them. Is there a way to use a file on either computer and make sure it is updated on both? For example: if I update our Quicken data on one PC, can that updated file be available on the second PC? If I add photos to MY PICTURE file on one computer, can those photos be seen on the second computer? If I receive email on one computer, can it be seen on the other computer? etc, etc, etc.
I'll add a possible problem: Our current PC is Windows XP. The new one will be Windows 7.
As always: thanks for taking the time to respond.

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In large part: No

In large part, the answer to your question is no. SOME of those things you could manage to do, but you're not going to really be able to do all of them. At least not on Windows without some ridiculously expensive software. On Linux it'd be absolutely no problem at all.

The closest thing you could get to what you want is to store data on a NAS device. Then both of you could access the data on this NAS device. This has a few problems with it, like only one of you could be working on the data at any given time, and it requires an active network connection at all times.

The thing to note here, is that Windows was designed at the height of the stand alone PC era. Every PC was an island unto itself. It's only been in later years that they've started bolting on any kind of networking features at all.

This sort of thing really just doesn't fit into that development model Microsoft is using. If it were Linux, you could transparently log into the other system, run programs, access documents, etc, and if set up right, never even know you were doing it. But Linux tries to emulate the system from the days of the dumb terminal. Of course before you go getting all excited about that, remember that Linux won't necessarily run your Windows programs.

You're pretty much screwed on this is the long and short of it. You can share data to a limited extent, but nothing quite on the order of what you want.

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Yes, you can and it does not take ...

much to do so.

Your computers need to be networked and you would need to set your applications to save to a shared location (a network attached storage solution would do such as something here">http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&Description=network%20attached%20storage%20nas&bop=And&Order=PRICE]here at Newegg)

Next, both computers would have to have applications that can handle the specific file types - If you have been using MS Word and Excel on the XP box you should have them on the Win 7 box (OpenOffice would allow the documents to be opened, worked on and saved BUT formatting often changes). You would need to have the same version of Quicken on both computers also.

Now, the sticker - usually applications require that only one user can be actively working on any file at any specific time as the files need to be locked for editing and changes so you would have to wait for your wife to finish doing her thing with any file before you could do youtr thing with it but all changes made by her would be there in the document you opened.

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A pain and risky but this might work

If you had a network drive and mapped shares to both PCs you might have some success. You could link some data such as your Quicken .qdf file to a Quicken program (need to be compatible versions) on both PCs. A picture folder could be mapped as well. I don't think there's much you can do easily with email however. But with drive mapping you'd only be looking at one location rather than have data updated on both PCs. It would take a really good backup disaster plan too. I'm not going to recommend this as I think it's probably got more down sides than I'd personally want to deal with but it should work for some programs.

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