Solved! Working on file either on desktop or laptop

Tom Seeley

Nov 26, 2020
Limited expertise here so be gentle! I use a windows desktop and windows 10 to do straightforward things like email, MS Office, following my investments, not a lot more. My wife also uses the desktop for the same things. I am the administrator on the desktop and she is a limited user. Neither of us is very sophisticated beyond what I’ve said here.

For reasons entirely irrelevant to this msg, I may want to add a laptop so she can use the desktop most of the time and I can use the laptop myself.

How do I connect both so that I can use the laptop to work on an excel file (for example) that’s already on the desktop, and make sure that I can always access and use the most up to date version of the file on either machine, regardless ofwhich machine I used the last time I worked with that file. Obviously this would apply to everything I now do just on the desktop but would want to be able to work on with either machine.

Other than needing to access the single copy of any file I’m working on with either computer, would I also need to install the software I’m using (MS Office, my investment tracking program, etc.) on each machine?

Also, if we have the right kind of printer, is it possible to set that up so that either or both of us could print from our machine to the printer using wifi, no matter where any of the gear is located? Assuming the wifi is suitable, which I believe is the case.

I’ve heard of things like home networks. I’m aware of the “cloud” but I sorta consider the word cloud to be another term for “someone else’s computer” so I’m not sure I like that.

I should add if we do this, my wife would use the desktop in her home office on the ground floor while I’d use the laptop most of the time in our bonus room over the garage. We have ATT wifi via their hardwire land line and their modem. That is in the bonus room now and would need to stay there. We’ve used the desktop for a short time on the ground floor with the modem still in the bonus room and I’m pretty sure the wifi signal won’t be an issue if we relocate the desktop but not the modem. Rewiring to move the modem downstairs is a non starter so don’t even think of suggesting that please!

What are my options?


OneDrive is fine for you to share files with, if you have Office you already have OneDrive as part of the package.

If you already have internet setup in your house, you are very likely also using a router, which will take care of the printer setup. Just get a network printer, wifi or wired, and go through the instructions that come with it to set it up for central printing. Many of those printers also offer an option of cloud printing from anywhere you are, even outside the house, but I don't suggest you enable that since it opens up some security holes.

As far as the WiFi range, if what you have now won't work in all the areas, you will need to either run network cables to the rooms with issues, try a higher end WiFi card with antennas or get a powerline ethernet adapter to stick in the room WiFi does not reach. There are also WiFi extenders that basically bounce the WiFi signal at some mid point from the router to extend it, but they are not the most reliable and drop the speed quite a bit.
What you are asking would require a ton of help. I suggest you break it down into smaller chunks or hire a techie. I can answer a few quickly.

Sharing files can by done via Microsoft One Drive, Google Drive or others. My choice is DropBox because it is very easy to use. If you don't need more than a GB or so of space, it is free (last I knew). I would read up on that and give it a try. You will need to buy a second copy of most software for a second machine.

You need to buy a wireless router and connect it to your modem. Probably ATT has a package they offer to help set up a home network. That would be money well spent!
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