I have some friends who own a business and both work together on their computers out of their homes.

They would like to collaborate together on some documents, QuickBooks files, etc.

As they seem to be on board with the whole "only one of us works on the file at a time" concept it seems that a SharePoint site or source control would suit them best. But those are too expensive and too complicated, respectively.

Something like DropBox might work but I'm not seeing any good or easy way for DropBox to alert User #2 that User #1 has a hold of the document (since DropBox is really designed for a single user).

What would be an easy and affordable collaboration solution for a two person business with no IT department?

  • I've now clarified the question slightly - these users are NON-technical and have no IT department. So they don't have CAL's or servers or any capacity to install and administer ClearCase. Sorry, I should have been more clear. – Tom Kidd Aug 7 '09 at 16:25

Dropbox has Shared folders now between two dropbox accounts. If they wanted to control what the other could work on, they could select what goes in the shared folder. Obviously, not as good as a Sharepoint server, but it is free.

Although this wouldn't help with Quickbooks (yet), Google Docs is a great solution for document collaboration (and free). Users can see if the other is also working on the document and even send a message to the other through the Google Docs interface.

Perhaps when Google Wave comes out there will be an even more elegant solution to this problem.


I'd go with Google Docs or Zoho for general document collaboration. Note that Zoho is quite a bit more capable than Google's offering at the present, and also has some great business-related features such as invoicing and CRM, although you do pay for these features.

For QuickBooks data, I'd recommend they go with QuickBooks Online.

I would also recommend setting up a Google Apps account for their business.


Groove is also pretty decent at handling that kind of thing - comes with one of the MS Office editions - not sure which, but they may allready have it.

  • Any idea how well Groove handles non-Office documents? – Tom Kidd Aug 7 '09 at 16:26

I have not used it, but Microsoft Windows Live Sync (aka Folder Share) looks pretty good for a small team. It looks like it only comes with 2GB, so it may be a little small in this case?


If you have Windows Server 2003 or 2008 with the requisite user or device CALS, Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 is already available to you.


I think Alfresco Cloud fits your criteria the best:

  • Simple: Intuitive interface to easily work, and see what is going on.
  • Economical: You can have 10GB without paying.
  • Notifications: Optionally you can receive emails about ongoing activity.

I will recommend the solutions that I know work.

DOT NET NUKE might work for you

Visual Source Safe is one such program that will maintain version control for each user. It allows you to rollback changes and determine who edited the file and when. Visual Source Safe

And the big grand daddy is Rational Clear Case. This is the top of the line Cadillac tool for document revision management.

Rational Clear Case Trial Download

  • Sorry, but they need something much simpler than this. I phrased and tagged the question poorly and I've now modified that. – Tom Kidd Aug 7 '09 at 16:28

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