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Is there a set up that could be used so that user could move seamlessly between a laptop and a desktop machine.

By move in this context I mean do all their daily work on the desktop machine, but when required move that work quickly to a laptop. eg having to visit a client site.

Would some kind of raid setup on the desktop, and a removable 2.5 inch hard disk work? I see a potential issue when trying to move back to the desktop with this but I'm not sure.

These would be developer machines so the user does have technical knowledge if that helps.

Edit: More info on the type of data. These would be eclipse and or visual studio workspaces, browser favourites, outlook e-mail.

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Is there always going to be connectivity back to the network available, or as you say, might this be at a client's location with unknown connectivity? –  datatoo Apr 22 '11 at 14:46
    
@datatoo Your connectivity on client site will always, at best, be a 3G connection back to our network. –  Kevin D Apr 22 '11 at 19:57
    
well always running everything on the desktop but remotely accessing from the laptop won't work well then, I would guess. I sometimes have to do that myself. Work on a project remotely, and access everything relative to it on the actual development machine. –  datatoo Apr 22 '11 at 23:55
    
A possibility is working within a VM, that is maintined on a removable hardisk. That way the environment state should always remain constant. –  Kevin D Apr 28 '11 at 14:15
    
Briefcase? –  CarlF Apr 28 '11 at 14:42
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4 Answers

This kind of thing is usually done using roaming profiles in Windows Server.

The user's data is stored centrally on the server.

When the user logs on a copy is synced with the local machine. When the user logs off the local changes are synced back to the server.

As long as the user logs into the laptop while still on the local network they will get their latest work on the laptop automatically.

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Currently our My Documents folder can be dealt with this way, can this be used for multiple folders? ( a lot of us don't use it as it is very slow) –  Kevin D Apr 22 '11 at 14:13
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Dropbox can be a good approach to fulfill this need. Dropbox creates a "My Dropbox" folder and syncs everything you drop inside it almost instantly between all your computers that have the software installed. They give you 2GB for free but you can pay for more if you wish.

As far as a I know, Eclipse and Visual Studio can store workspaces wherever you want, so you could put them inside your Dropbox folder. ( You can also use symlinks to sync any folder outside the Dropbox folder)

Personally, I use Dropbox for all my documents and running Rails projects. Everytime I make a change to a file, it is automatically backed up and synced across my computers, so I can continue my work right where I left, anywhere. You don't need an active Internet connection everytime, so you could confortably work offline and Dropbox would sync when you connect to the Internet.

For browser favorites, both Firefox and Google Chrome support syncing your bookmarks and preferences either with Firefox Sync (included with Firefox 4) or Google Chrome sync

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Sadly such a set up wouldn't work in our corporate environment, no way we could store any client data let alone code on a server outside our control. –  Kevin D Apr 25 '11 at 20:49
    
Well, you can build a clone if you are technically able to. There's a github project that clones Dropbox functionality fak3r.com/geek/howto-build-your-own-open-source-dropbox-clone –  bruno077 Apr 26 '11 at 18:18
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You can try using Syncplicity or Sugarsync. I've used both, and they both work well for backup and synchronising data between two computers. That's only for the files. For bookmarks, there's Google chrome auto-synchronisation. I don't use Outlook so I can't advise you on that.

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And try RDP or any software for remote management like teamviewer? if you have to access everything maybe the use of a user for presentations only could be the best option.

Anyway, if you're using xp then the briefcase is the out-of-the-box option for synchronizing. If you're using a newer version of windows, vista or 7, the Sync Center is the answer.

Hope this help :D

enjoy!

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