In the ultracompetitive world of personal remote-access software, it's hard for venerable remote-access tools such as Laplink Everywhere to stand out, especially with relative newcomers such as LogMeIn and MyWebEx PC offering fully functional basic services for free. Laplink Everywhere 4.0 costs $10.95 per month or $94.90 per year for a single-host PC license. Although Laplink Everywhere 4.0 lacks true-color support and has a somewhat convoluted interface, this remote-desktop service sets itself apart with its secure file-sharing capabilities and multiplatform support.
Setting up Laplink Everywhere is straightforward. Sign up for an account on the Laplink site, then download and install the host software on your PC. After installation, you'll see an icon in your system tray (if you're running Windows); click the icon to configure your computer's settings. Then, when you're on the road, return to the Laplink site, log in, and select your system (if you have more than one host system configured for Laplink Everywhere, you'll see the names you've given each; select one). As with LogMeIn, you can access your host system from a portable device or a remote Linux or Mac; all data passing between your host computer and your remote browser travels through the company's servers and is secured with 128-bit SSL encryption.
When connected remotely to your host computer, you'll see a window within your browser that pretty much mimics your desktop display. Within that window, navigate and click desktop icons just as you would when sitting in front of your host PC. Unlike LogMeIn's display, Laplink Everywhere's is limited to 256 colors, which means that some pictures and graphics will look banded or grainy. The Laplink Everywhere service currently doesn't offer a true-color option.
From any remote Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, Laplink Everywhere lets you access and even modify your Outlook e-mail, contacts, and calendar appointments on your host PC--something Windows Remote Desktop lets you do for free. The File Transfer utility lets you encrypt and transfer files from your host PC to specified folders, and vice versa; it also lets you assign permissions to specific users, even if they aren't paying customers of Laplink Everywhere. Alternately, you can use a Web interface to e-mail host PC files as attachments or to e-mail people a secure link that they can use to download specific files stored on your host PC.
Accessing some features, such as file transfer, requires leaving the remote-desktop window, returning to the Laplink Web site to select the feature, then opening a separate browser window. This can get confusing as you toggle between the various open windows. Unlike LogMeIn, Laplink Everywhere lacks support for single-use passwords, which are extremely useful when accessing your PC from a remote public computer (such as within a cafe or a photocopy center). Also, it supports remote printing only in Remote Desktop mode, which requires the host computer to be running Windows XP Professional or Windows Server 2000/2003 with Terminal Services.
Laplink offers an array of support options for Laplink Everywhere, though some may be inconvenient for weekend warriors. Phone support and live online chat are available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT. E-mail support is available after hours, and Laplink promises a response within one business day. You can access extensive online documentation and FAQ materials on Laplink's site anytime.