pbn_logo.gif (6296 bytes)

Ask Shak:
Product Allows Users to Tap Into
Home or Office Computer on the Road


One of the most important relationships you’ll ever have is with your personal computer. There’s perhaps no other component of our business life that’s more vexing as that box that sits on most people’s desks. Everyone has computer questions and we’re here to assist you in that department. Below are a few questions I’ve received recently from readers. I hope the answers will be useful to you.

Dear Shak:
I am a Honolulu-based sales rep who constantly has to travel to the neighbor islands and to the Mainland. I always carry my laptop with me but inevitably find that there are documents or phone numbers I've forgotten to bring along. All of this information resides on my office computer back in Honolulu. Is there a way over the Internet that will allow me to access files from my Honolulu computer when I'm off-island?

Mel in Manoa Valley

Dear Mel:
Your question is very timely. We just road-tested an excellent product called PC Anywhere from Symantec, a southern California company that has been producing "utilities" (as these types of products are called) for many years. You may have heard of a product of theirs called Norton Utilities, which is their flagship product. If you need to access your home or office computer remotely this is the ticket. It will allow you to transfer files from one computer to another--whether in the same office or on a different continent--quite easily. The only issue we had was with setting up the product. This is where Symantec's telephone tech support came in very handy. I had a few questions to ask and the people on the other end of the line were very sharp and helpful. I usually didn't have to wait too long either. Support, incidentally, is free for the first 90 days. After that, you gotta pay them.

Once the product was set up, we had no problem using it. The only thing you have to remember before you leave town is to fire up PC Anywhere on your "host" computer. (The host would in effect be the computer that you want to access information from.) After that it's easy to connect with your home or office computer wherever you are. By being able to operate your machine from afar you're in a position to obtain whatever information you need or even run any program you want-all remotely. The price for this program is about $170. It's well worth it if you travel a lot. Check out www.symantec.com for more info.

If you are technically more savvy, as an inexpensive alternative, you can set up your home PC as a dial up server which comes with Windows 95 & 98. Win98/95 Dial-up Server allows users of Windows 95 to access a local area network while out of the office. This feature allows a small office, or workgroup to share data, or send and receive mail remotely through a TCP/IP connection. File sharing, however gets more complicated since Windows File Sharing must be enabled for the particular directory your files reside in. If your files are not in a shared directory, you won't be able to get them remotely. Also, if your computer is connected on a network, you leave these shared directories open on the network.

You can find more information on setting up and configuring Dial Up Server here:

Dear Shak:
I sell insurance in Honolulu and wanted to comment on an earlier column a few weeks ago about backing up your data. I agree with you 100%--people (and businesses) need to back up their computers on a regular basis. Most standard business insurance policies don't cover the invaluable data that you may lose. A much better insurance policy is to make sure you regularly back up your files rather than relying on an insurance company to be responsible for your data. I wanted to add one more suggestion. Store your backup tape in a fireproof safe! Or, store a duplicate backup tape offsite. That way, if a fire guts your home or office--at least you'll be able to get started anew.

Rich Proctor, Jerry Hay Inc., Honolulu

Dear Rich:
You're absolutely right. Thanks for the suggestions. A fire proof safe is a good idea as is storing a duplicate back up copy off-site. The first addendum I have is to actually get a "media safe" storage because of the backup media being so sensitive to temperature. Arlene Krupa from Aloha Key and Awards stocks these safes.

Let me make one more suggestion. After you've backed up your data with your tape backup, test the hardware and software to make sure that it works. In other words, it's not enough to back up the tape. If, after you're hard drive crashes you find that your not able to restore the data, the backup job is not going to be of much use. So here's what you do. After you've backed up your data, pick one small file, say a letter or some other document from your database. Move it to another directory or erase it from your hard drive. Then go and look for it on the tape and try to restore the file. If this can be easily done, chances are, when and if your machine goes down, you'll be able to get all your data back. Perform this procedure on a regular basis.

Although most of the tape backup software come with a data verify option already built in, I still recommend this above procedure to be absolutely safe.

Shakil Ahmed is the founder of PDC Systems, a Honolulu computer and networking company established in 1991. Questions should be addressed to askshak@pdcsystems.com.

Pacific Business News, November 26 1999

ruler3.gif (618 bytes)
Home / About Pac-Tech / PR Services / Clients / Clips--Hawaii--National