CommWorks for Windows. (communications software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by J. Blake Lambert
If you're tired of swapping disks between PCs to transfer files using either sneaker net or the postal service, you might be interested in CommWorks for Windows, a bundle of programs for transferring files, accessing a remote PC, faxing, telecommunicating, and monitoring file directories. In addition to these programs, there's a Control Center button bar, which lets you launch any of the five applications or the Windows File Manager.
The heart of the package is LapLink V, a DOS program (which also runs seamlessly in a Window DOS session) that provides simple, reliable, and fast file transfers between PCs. It works over serial 9cable included), paralle, and modem connections. With LapLink V, you view the local PCHs directories on the left of the screen and the remote PC's directories on the right, managing files of either at will. You can execute common tasks using the Synchronize, Clone Directory, and Refresh Directory functions, and then record the tasks and schedule them to run unattended. LapLink V is especially good for keeping two PCs updated (a laptop and desktop, for example) and for transferring large portions of data from one PC to another (such as when you buy a new PC or replace a PC's hard drive).
LapLink V cna do its work in the background (via Windows) while you do other work. A remote-installation feature lets you transfer the program to a remote computer, and the program offers varying security levels, which you may assign to users.
LapLink Remote Access lets you connect two PCs via a serial, parallel, or modem connection (or infrared link). The machines form a mininetwork, so the drives and printers connected to each PC are simultaneously available to the other--even those on a network connected to one of the PCs. You need a fast 486 and a fast modem to use this program effectively via phone lines, but with serial and especially parallel connections, LapLink Remote Access moves along less slowly. It works in the background in Windows or in DOS, using a suite of DOS TSR programs to provide transparent access to the extra drives and printers.
TS Fax is a Windows fax modem manager which also works in the background. In addition to the basic fax-sending and -receiving functions, you can establish groups of recipients for automatic delivery and even forward faxes. The program also lets you mark up faxes using a few basic drawing tools; it has limited scanning support.
TS Online is a Windows telecommunications program for connecting to information services, bulletin board services, and other PCs via modem. The program supports a number of popular file transfer protocols and emulates several common terminals. You can record, compile, and play scripts, and the program includes some predefined scripts as well. The built-in text editor can handle eight files at once, and you can view GIF and RLE graphics while inside the program.
LapLink Alert watches over as many as 16 directories on your PC at once to detect any changes. When it finds a change, it lets you know by playing a WAV sound file or displaying a message. Unfortunately, it doesn't describe the change; it just tells you which directory has changed.
Overall, CommWorks is a pretty good package, and LapLink V and LapLink Remote Access are especially nice. LapLink Alert needs to provide more information to be really useful, and while TS Online and TS Fax are competent, they're not remarkable. For now, anyway, the file transfer and remote access programs are the real incentives to add Comm-Works to your system.