Laplink Gold 2008 review

7 Mar 2008

Going way beyond the file-transfer and remote-control facilities built into Windows, Laplink has a lot to offer.

Price when reviewed: 
57exc VATmore
5

With ethernet ports ubiquitous in PCs, and Wi-Fi built into even the cheapest laptops, you might wonder why the world still needs Laplink Gold. After all, files can be copied easily between systems just by using tools in the OS. However, when you realise you'll probably have to reconfigure a laptop's network connections before you can transfer data between it and your company's networked systems, it begins to make more sense. If that same laptop is at a remote location then Laplink's ability to use a secure internet connection makes it an obvious choice.

Another big plus is the sheer range of connection options Laplink offers. Although serial and parallel ports may be unfashionable, Laplink can still use them. Of course, USB ports are much more common, and Laplink bundlesa USB cable in the box for just this purpose. It can also operate on the LAN and across the internet, and even usea modem, if required.

This latest version of Laplink won't run on Windows earlier than XP, but it works seamlessly with earlier versionsof itself. We tested the software with Laplink Gold 2008 installed on one system and Laplink Gold 12 on the other and had no problems. Using a USB cable connection, we transferred a directory containing 97MB of data in 202 files in 20 seconds. The same operation took14 seconds using the LAN.

But Laplink isn't just about basic file transfers: it offers a number of extra features. Top of the list is Xchange Agent, which can synchronise the contents of pairs of folders. An agent can be set up to compare the contents of several pairs of folders and copy files in either direction automatically. Several agents can be set up to carry out whatever synchronisation operations may be needed between various systems.

Remote control is another nice feature. This allows the initiating system to take control of a target system running another copy of Laplink, while the Remote Desktop option operates likea Terminal Services client program and doesn't need another copy of Laplink (although the target system must be running Terminal Services). It also offers voice and text chat sessions between systems.

Keeping track of the various machines is simplified by the Address Book facility, which can store a wealth of detail about any Laplink-enabled system and its user. This stores the type of connection to be used and any relevant information- such as the network address, dial-up information or internet details, login information and the available services - and they're all to hand in one place.

Laplink needs to be installed on each computer that will be involved in a file-transfer or remote-control session, and has to be running on the target machine before any activity can take place; it can be set up to load with Windows if required.

As a further security measure, Laplink can be configured to refuse a remote connection request from any machine that isn't on its list of acceptable computers. These settings can be password-protected to prevent a remote user changing them.

The vast array of connectivity options allows Laplink Gold 2008 to offer remote-control and file-transfer capabilities for situations where ordinary networking facilities simply can't reach.