Your business, like most, probably uses a large number of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to keep track of customers, sales, products and a wide variety of other data. When multiple employees need access to the most up-to-date file, however, there is a problem: keeping the same file synchronized across multiple computers and devices. There are several ways to achieve this goal, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Keep in mind your business's specific needs when choosing a method.
Use networked storage to save files that are accessible by any computer on your network. Because there is only one copy of the file that lives on a network hard drive or server, that file is always the most up-to-date version. Also, because you must own the network drive, the file is kept securely within your property and is accessible by any computer connected to your office's local network. However, it may be very difficult to access the file off-site using this technique, which is a benefit in terms of data security but may be a drawback if you need mobile or on-the-go access to your files. Another drawback is that (in general) only one user can be editing the file at a time; any other users who try to access the file will get a read-only version.
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Use cloud synchronization to keep folders synchronized on different computers. The most commonly used services are Dropbox and SugarSync. These programs store a copy of your files on the Internet using security that you cannot control. While your files will not be generally accessible to the public and these companies tend to take data security very seriously, it is possible for the companies to share your data as they deem appropriate. Both of these services allow multiple users to edit the same document at the same time, although they will not automatically merge any changes that are made. Both services offer excellent mobile apps that make it easy to access your files from anywhere.
Use cloud storage to keep files synchronized and permit multiple users to work on the same file at once. Services like Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive allow you to upload your files and individually permit other users to access or change the files. These services allow multiple users to simultaneously view and change a single copy of the file, with changes propagated in real time to the other users. The data security and mobile access concerns with these services are identical to those of cloud synchronization services.
Use the built-in cloud storage and synchronization features built into Windows 8 and Office 2013 if you are using these versions. By logging in with an Outlook.com, @MSN.com, @Live.com, or @Hotmail.com account with Windows 8 and Office 2013, you can save your spreadsheets to Microsoft SkyDrive and be able to transfer Windows and Office settings to multiple devices. Additionally, by using free OneNote apps on your Android, Windows Phone or iOS device you can access OneNote files -- which can include pasted information from most other Office apps -- on the go no matter what kind of smartphone or tablet device you have. This service has all of the same associated security concerns as other cloud synchronization services.