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How to Share Files Between Computers

If you're ready to upgrade to a new computer or if you're trying to share files between your computers and your mobile devices, you can save a lot of time if you follow the tips below.

E-mail Files! Easy-Peasy

You will really only want to pursue this option if you are trying to share a few smaller files, like pictures or MP3 files. Usually, there are file size threshold limits on most e-mail servers, and trying to e-mail someone an entire movie or a folder of every single picture you took on your Caribbean cruise will more than likely bounce back undeliverable. It can also be incredibly time consuming to e-mail big files back and forth, so keep that in mind. You can use e-mail to share files, but it only works best for the smaller ones.

Under Your Thumb (Drive)

Thumb drives (which also go by other commonly used names like Flash drives, USB drives, or ZIP drives) are a quick and easy way to share files between computers. The technology is also incredibly easy to use and lets you transfer files to just about anywhere. The only drawback is that it can’t be done remotely—you still have to physically carry the thumb drive from one location to another in order to do the transfer. But that should be no big deal. Why stay home when you have a great excuse to swing by your BFF’s place and get caught up while watching The Princess Bride off your thumb drive?

External Hard Drives

A lot of people look at external hard drives as safe places to keep their data in case their computer crashes or their house burns down, but external drives can also be used to share files between computers. An external hard drive can work just like a much larger thumb drive. The smaller capacity thumb drives are quite a bit less expensive than even the smallest external hard drive and are sufficient for most uses. Additionally, thumb drives will fit nicely in that tiny coin pocket in your jeans. At the time this article was written, the largest thumb drives available were 256 GB and the largest hard drives available were 4 TB. So an external hard drive can easily be 16 times larger than a thumb drive, allowing the transport of quite a bit more, if not all of your files.

Share Files or Folders across your Home Network

If you store all of your pictures, music, or movies on one computer, those files or folders can be shared across your home network so that another computer attached to the same network can access them. If you are on a Windows* 8 computer, you can put your files in a public folder, or you can set up specific users to have access to any folder in your hard drive. If you are using a Mac, sharing can be accomplished through OS X Mountain Lion*. Regardless of what operating system you have, using the shared drive method gives you the power to access your music library from any room in your house on any device you own—turning you into a living, breathing dance machine no matter where you are.

NAS (Network Attached Storage)

Network attached storage (NAS) is essentially a combination of external hard drives and shared files, except that NAS drives are connected to the network and not any specific computer.  The files on those drives can be shared in a controlled way to anyone connecting to the same network.  This means that a computer doesn’t have to be left on in order for the files to be accessible and your important data can be kept in a central location without filling up your laptop, tablet, or phone.

Share Files in the Cloud

Another great sharing idea is to set up a personal cloud storage account. Not only does this let you access your stuff from anywhere at any time, but you can also give access to your friends and family. This is one of the simplest ways to share files between computers, and the cool thing about this is that you don’t even have to be in the same city, state, or even country. If you don’t have a personal cloud storage account already, you can get free and easy access through popular services like Dropbox* and Google Drive*. Keeping all of your files in personal cloud storage is also a great way to keep your gigabytes of music, movies, personal photos, and other irreplaceable files safe if your computer or hard drive ever fails.

What Happens When You Don’t Have Access to a Drive?

Think about it—it can happen. If you are out and about and accessing the internet on your smartphone, you may come across something you want to share with a friend or keep for yourself, like a recipe, a funny YouTube video, or a cool home design idea. Just because it’s not a physical file and you don’t have access to a hard drive doesn’t mean you can’t bookmark it by posting links to Facebook, pinning it to Pinterest, or even tweeting about it.

No matter which method you use to share files, the Intel Product Finder can help you find the best computer to fit your lifestyle.


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