Forward Solutions' Migo: Leave Your Laptop at Home

Go anywhere with Migo mobile and desktop storage.

November 21, 2003

5 Min Read
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Migo can store profiles for many machines--you assign them nicknames to differentiate. Additionally, each machine is designated as a "synchronization" or "login" machine. Synchronization machines serve as your primary workstations; login machines are secondary machines that you work from, such as those in remote offices. The machine type (login or synchronization) can be changed at any time.

Sync and Go

I designated my Windows XP SP1a laptop as a synchronization machine and was presented with a set of configuration options. File synchronization can be based on file type, modification within a user-configurable number of days or simply "all files." As a boon, when you choose the files and directories to synchronize, Migo displays the amount of space left on the device as well as the space necessary to synchronize the files you've chosen. I synchronized my desktop, a few directories and some specific files, as well as Outlook and IE, including bookmarks. Because the device is USB 1.1, it's slow for both synchronization and the log in/log out process, but it did the job.

Next, I plugged Migo into the Windows XP Pro SP1a Dell I use in the lab, gave the machine a nickname and made it a login machine. Migo loaded its software, which appears in the system tray, and placed a small tab at the top of the desktop called "PocketLogin."

When you click on the PocketLogin tab, you get a visual representation of the desktop for each machine you've designated as a synchronized machine (see screen at right). I clicked on the visual representation of my laptop, and Migo "logged me in." My laptop's desktop appeared, down to the background but minus the shortcuts to applications I hadn't synchronized.Clicking on "My Documents" took me to the documents I had synchronized off my laptop, not to the local folder on the login machine. I modified a few files from "My Documents." When I later returned to my sync laptop, I was presented with a list of new and modified files and was able to sync these changes to their folders.

Suspicious as I am, I opened the control panel on the login machine to see if an additional, perhaps temporary, user had been created. Impressively, Migo performed no modifications to the machine or its settings; all desktop shortcuts to user-specific data were directed at the Migo device rather than the local machine.

Sync Specifics

I ran Outlook 2003 on my login machine, and this posed a problem: Migo supports only Oulook 2000 and 2002. Forward Solutions expects to offer support for Outlook 2003 soon.

I worked around the difficulty by opening my PST (Outlook's personal folder files) on Migo within Outlook 2003 and configuring my Outlook 2003 to use Migo as its data store. I tried Migo on a different XP machine in the lab with Outlook 2000, and it worked as expected. Still not satisfied, I tried the same process on a Windows 2000 Pro machine and was pleased to discover no difference in functionality.

Migo uses the existing transport to send and only modifies the POP3 settings to match your own, so it requires that you have at least one mail account on the login machine in order to send mail through it. This is the only way to deal with ISPs that require users to send mail from an IP within their network. If you're using Outlook in corporate mode (i.e., connecting to Exchange), you'll need a VPN connection or you'll have to read mail via Exchange's Web interface. Forward Solutions says it is looking into more elegant solutions for Exchange, as well as support for additional groupware solutions in the future.You'll also need to remember your Exchange password. For security reasons, Migo doesn't transfer your POP3/IMAP account passwords.

My IE bookmarks were accessible, though IE cookies and auto-form-fill data were not transferred. I'd like to see support for other common and personalized applications as well, such as instant messaging clients and alternative browsers. You can sync the configuration files, but most people aren't aware of the location of these files, and it would be sweet for Migo to do this for users.

Resizing the task bar proves the product isn't flawless. When I did that, all local shortcuts reappeared on the desktop and couldn't be hidden again without logging out and logging back in.

Data storage on the device appears to be secure. I couldn't see any files on the device unless I was logged in with the proper password. I copied the executable to a different USB storage device, but the application wouldn't run off a non-Migo device. Plugging the device into a Linux machine and mounting the file system provided a similar experience: The main application appeared, but no other files could be seen or accessed on the file system.

Out of NetworkMigo doesn't solve issues with remote connectivity to Exchange if you're outside the organization. If you can't communicate with Exchange via Outlook remotely now, Migo cannot give you this functionality, unless the machine you use as your remote desktop via Migo uses a VPN connection to provide access. POP3 and IMAP, however, can be used if your organization allows remote access over the public network, but this limits the use of calendaring, as integration with Exchange is necessary for such functionality within Outlook. If, however, you're looking only for the basics--e-mail, contacts and files--Migo is just the thing to obviate carrying a laptop from office to office, and it's well worth the price.

Lori MacVittie is a Network Computing technology editor working in our Green Bay, Wis., labs. Write to her at [email protected].

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