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This is actually for my mom. She only uses like 10 files, mostly Word and Excel, but has to constantly edit them at home and then email to school to use. Then, use at school, and email the modified file home.

Is there something out there that can sync the two so she can avoid the emailing back and forth step?

Don't really want to upload it to a central site and have to SEPARATELY download it from there every time, either if possible. (I don't know if that is)

She CAN install software at both places.

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Skip the whole sync setup, and use the cloud. Google Apps is everywhere. –  Zoredache Mar 1 '12 at 19:26
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Important piece of information you left out: can she install software on the computers at school, or is it restricted? –  nhinkle Mar 2 '12 at 3:30

3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted

The best answer to this is likely to be a service like DropBox, box.com, or someone else who has invested heavily in getting file sync working transparently on multiple machines.

A fallback would be to use an external device like a USB stick, but they are more prone to failure, or to being lost, than a service is.

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I agree with Daniel, Dropbox is the best solution. You upload the files once and the files will be synced automatically on any machine that has the dropbox client installed, no need to manually download anything. I use this all the time to centrally store files, code snippets, etc.. –  xXPhenom22Xx Mar 2 '12 at 0:07

Edit: Redacted incorrect claim that Dropbox does not encrypt your data.

Cloud storage and file synchronisation is definitely the way to go here.

Dropbox is one solution, but your data can be decrypted by Dropbox. (This allows them to serve your files to you over the web.) The flip side is that Dropbox employees can read your files if they want to, or if they are ordered to by the courts. I would not recommend Dropbox for private or confidential information.

There are a variety of other cloud-storage programs which do provide secure storage, in the private-key encrypted sense. My personal favourite is SpiderOak. Like Dropbox, you can get a small account (1GB?) for free, and additional storage for $100/100Gb/year. They offer a 50% discount if you're a student or educator (i.e. you have a .edu email address.)

Finally, if you're bleeding edge, there's also BitCasa which is in public beta.

No affil. with any of these.

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That claim about DropBox not storing files in an encrypted manner is only partially true. The files are encrypted, which prevents an external attacker from accessing them. People were just concerned because Dropbox has the decryption keys required to access the files, so their employees could potentially view them. This is actually necessary for it to be possible to show the files to you online - it's an integral part of how the service works. –  nhinkle Mar 2 '12 at 3:29
    
If an external attacker could gain access to the file store, they could also possibly gain access to the encryption keys. And I'm not sure what would happen if Dropbox gets a court order to release someone's data. All of these are unlikely and Dropbox is perfectly fine for most folks, but I wouldn't trust Dropbox to store your credit card details or your nuclear weapon blueprints. –  Li-aung Yip Mar 2 '12 at 5:02
    
All that is true, but Dropbox files are encrypted. They're not just sitting on a server somewhere with no protection. To say "your data is not stored encrypted" is an untrue dramatization. –  nhinkle Mar 2 '12 at 5:34
    
True. Edited to that effect. –  Li-aung Yip Mar 2 '12 at 6:05
    
Bitcasa has changed their business model effectively showing how much they care about their users by giving them only 3 weeks to act, for those who were lucky to even get notified to start with. Big fail; don't trust them with your data. –  Arjan Nov 29 at 14:35

Microsoft Skydrive (requires a Windows Live account) would be your best bet. Skydrive provides cloud storage for your Office documents (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote). Being cloud based you save to / edit within the browser but you can also opt to open in the desktop installed Office software you might own.

Learn more about SkyDrive

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