Once upon a time, I did almost all of my writing from a single computer. I fired up Microsoft Office on my Windows laptop and dealt with documents there. If I traveled, I brought the laptop and used it while away. Save for the occasional one-night stand with another gadget, I had a more or less monogamous relationship with my PC.
These days, I'm intimate with an ever-expanding array of devices. (I've gotten pretty promiscuous -- I know.) Sure, I still come home to my Windows laptop, but I also fool around with my Android phone (it's in my pants every day) as well as my Android tablet and Chrome OS notebook. Being able to pull up and work on any document from any device I happen to be using -- without worrying about copying, pasting, or manually resyncing -- is something I've long desired.
That's where a powerful little program called SyncDocs comes into play. SyncDocs, taken out of beta just days ago, integrates Google Docs with my Windows 7 PC. It runs quietly in the background and keeps my laptop's word processing folder continuously synced with my Google Docs account. If I create or edit a file on my laptop, those changes are instantly pushed to Google Docs. And if I create or edit any files within Google Docs -- on my Android or Chrome OS devices, for example -- those changes instantly show up on my laptop's hard drive, too.
SyncDocs: Google Docs Meets Windows
I've been watching SyncDocs' development for quite a while, and with the app now officially out of beta, I decided to give it a proper spin. In short, it's a brilliantly simple solution for anyone who wants a combination of Google's cloud services and local file management.
Why would you want that? As last week's Google Docs outage reminded me, I love the whole "living in the cloud" concept in theory -- but I just don't trust it enough in reality to make the full leap online. My documents are important to me, and I can't risk losing access to them, even for an hour here and there. Plus, while Google Docs is fine for on-the-go work, I prefer using a more fully featured local office suite when at home. Basically, I want the best of both worlds.
SyncDocs lets me achieve that, and it does it seamlessly. I work the same way I always do on my laptop, using my trusty old copy of Word -- and at any moment, I can grab another device and find any document in its most recent state in Google Docs. It's as if my own local word processor is now part of Google's suite; I have one foot on the cloud and one foot on land, but to me, it all feels the same. I can even collaborate and share documents through Google Docs while using my PC's local programs.
(Incidentally, if I ever decide to switch to Google Docs full time, SyncDocs can handle that, too: The program has an option to set Google Docs as the default Windows word processing client. In that mode, it would still save files locally in addition to saving them to Google Docs itself.)
Of course, this basic concept is no different than what you could achieve using any cloud-based storage solution, be it Dropbox, Carbonite, or what have you. The benefit here, though, is the seamless and transparent Docs integration: Instead of having to open up Dropbox on your mobile device and mess with downloading and then reuploading files, you just open Google Docs. Wherever you are, everything you need is always there and ready -- and when you make changes, everything is automatically synced back to your PC as well.
One final factor worth noting: SyncDocs isn't limited only to office-style files. When you set up the program, you tell it what folder on your PC you want to have synced with your GDocs account. Any files in that folder will always be processed and made available via Google Docs, and vice versa. (The only caveat is space: By default, Google Docs limits you to 1GB of storage. If you need more, you can buy extra space from Google starting at $5 a year for 20GB.)
SyncDocs: The Nitty Gritty
SyncDocs will sync up to 250 files free of charge; you can increase that limit little by little by referring friends to the program. For full unlimited syncing, SyncDocs costs 10 bucks a year.
You can download the PC client and check out the free version for yourself at syncdocs.com. If you decide to spring for the full edition, you can upgrade from the SyncDocs website; the payments are all processed via PayPal.
Bottom line: If you're like me and find yourself searching for a hybrid Google-local documents setup, SyncDocs might be just the thing for you. It gives you a hassle-free way to live the multigadget lifestyle -- swingin' in the way only a true geek can swing.
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Article copyright 2011 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.