Linda Jenkins, December 17 2016
The Apple iPad continues to be one of the most popular tablets in the world. The
iPad operating system, iOS, enjoys over 1.2 million apps from various developers worldwide. In this article, you will find seven of the most noteworthy productivity tools you can get for your iPad.
Grafio is an iPad app you can use to create diagrams and mind maps. Grafio provides you with options to add text, images, audio recordings, etc., to a detailed mind map to visualize your thoughts. Other major features of Grafio include shape recognition, export to PDF, Box.net support, Dropbox support, etc. The app is available at the App Store for $8.99.
2. PDF Expert
PDF Expert is an app that lets you organize and manage all your PDF documents from one place. You can also annotate your PDF documents using this app. PDF Expert also provides the capability to open other file formats, such as iWork, Microsoft Office, images, text files, music, and videos. PDF Expert can help you highlight text, annotate documents, fill forms, create bookmarks, and draw using your finger. The app is available for $9.99.
OmniFocus is a personal task management app for the iPhone and iPad. This app lets you organize your tasks by projects. Also, you can sync your tasks with the OmniFocus data on other devices. The app's design has been recently revamped to conform to iOS 7 standards.
Evernote used to be a simple note-taking app for your iPhone. Today, it's one of the most widely used productivity apps in the world. You can use Evernote to make text notes, to-do lists, sync data to the cloud, share files, and record voice memos. It is available as a free download, but there is a premium version available for $45 annually. Evernote also has companion apps such as Hello and Food.
Asana is a business collaboration app for iOS. A team of professionals can use this app to get tasks done quickly without distractions. Asana was co-founded by Facebook's co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and former employee Justin Rosenstein. The app has several features such as projects, workspaces, tasks, notes, comments, and inbox.
Do you want to remotely access your Mac using your iPad? LogMeIn is the perfect solution for this. This free app available for iPad can be used to access your home or work Mac's files on the go. With LogMeIn's remote desktop feature, you can control and remotely run any app on your Mac as if you are sitting in front of it.
Hours is a simple iPad app for tracking your billable hours. This colorful app can be helpful in starting a task and timing it until its completion. With this app, you can easily create a project for a client and time it to completion along with notes. The timer is simple to use and helps you track your productivity better.
Simply going through the App Store can help you find some really cool apps for business. Make sure you fully utilize the features of your iPad by installing some of these productivity tools.
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Linda Jenkins, September 21 2016
Having the proper tools and training to grow your business is essential. Fortunately, the Android platform on phones and tablets offers a range of free apps that can help you with that. Here are 12 free Android apps your business can't live without.
1. Google Docs
The Google Docs app integrates the entire Google Office suite into one app. In addition to the word processor Docs, the app also consists of Sheets, Google's spreadsheet software, and Slides, the slideshow presentation tool. The tools themselves have evolved over the past few years to be on a par with the Office products and feature clean, crisp user interfaces. If you use Google Docs on your desktop then this is an essential productivity app for your Android phone or tablet.
2. Google Drive
The perfect companion app for Google Docs, Google Drive allows you to seamlessly store and manage your documents in the cloud. Word documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, and images can be instantly backed up online and accessed anywhere in an easy to use interface. This allows for cross-platform utilization and document access in a more streamlined, simpler interface than sharing files via Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage. The fact that Google Drive is integrated with the Android file system means files can be automatically backed up into the cloud, so a lost phone doesn't mean a lost document.
3. Microsoft OneNote
Microsoft's OneNote is the ultimate productivity app for those on the go. OneNote is a digital notebook that allows you to take notes, create itineraries, shopping lists, and manage expenses. What truly sets OneNote apart is its organizational capabilities; the app features the ability to add written notes, audio, and video messages to images you've taken as well as to store these as part of an individual grouping. Take pictures of receipts instead of keeping papers, snap a photo of a whiteboard and add it to your meeting notes, or jot down important information from a training course so you can refer to it later. With OneNote, the sky is the limit.
4. Expense Manager
For in-depth expense management, nothing beats the free Expense Manager app. Set budgets and categories, and easily enter spending details with the simple, elegant interface. The app provides detailed reports for all aspects of your budget and allows you to export them in CSV format. While some features require a paid subscription, the free aspects of Expense Manager make it a powerful financial tool.
5. Cabinet BETA
One complaint about the Android operating system is its non-intuitive file management system. Finding documents and files saved on the phone or tablet can be a chore, and Cabinet BETA solves this problem. Its minimalist interface is designed to make finding and accessing stored documents a snap, a must have for a busy person on the go.
You're working on your desktop computer, and you need to stop every few minutes to answer and respond to texts. With AirDroid, you can do it all from your computer instead, without having to pick up your phone. AirDroid wirelessly connects to your desktop or laptop and mirrors your phone's interface, seamlessly allowing you to access all your phone's features remotely. Answer calls or texts, transfer files between phone and computer, all without losing a step in productivity.
7. Chrome Remote Desktop
With Chrome Remote Desktop, you can remotely access your desktop or laptop computer directly from your phone. It supports any computer operating system, as long as the Google Chrome browser is installed. Once the companion desktop app has been downloaded then you can access files or programs on your computer, as if it were there in front of you. It's an essential tool for when you need to access your computer but aren't in proximity to it.
8. Today Calendar
While Android does come equipped with a native calendar app, for sheer convenience the Today Calendar can't be beaten. View appointments and events at a glance on the desktop screen, saving precious time. The app is available in either a free ad-supported or paid pro version.
Any business traveler knows the inconvenience of organizing travel-related information, and TripIt makes it easy to do so. This powerful app allows you to forward confirmation emails from multiple sources, such as hotels, car rentals, and airlines, to firstname.lastname@example.org and the app will deliver a personalized single itinerary to you. The itinerary can be shared via social media, or synced with your Google calendar. A must-have tool for the busy traveler.
10. Google Translate
If you're traveling in a foreign country, don't let language barriers slow you down. Google's free Translate app allows you to snap photos of text in ninety languages and instantly translate them for you. The keyboard interface accepts text or finger-drawn text input. Additionally you can have the app speak the translation for you, and it integrates with Google Maps to provide directions to translated landmark signs.
How much time do you spend on your smartphone on business-related tasks? With QualityTime, you can monitor and track individual app usage, allowing you to get a quick sense of where your time is being spent. It's a great tool for those seeking either better time management or a better work-life balance.
Another great time management tool, with HoverChat you can read and respond to SMS messages without leaving your current screen. The app replaces the existing text messaging app with one that overlays messages on whatever screen you're working on. You'll never have to drop what you're doing and switch apps to respond to texts.
Whether you're looking to manage your time, organize your documents, track your expenses or just make your life easier, these apps have you covered. All are available for free from the Google Play store and are essential to help you manage your business.
Discover other great apps from Google Play.
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Linda Jenkins, July 11 2016
Simplify your day-to-day tasks. Check out this list of the best online small business tools and apps to start maximizing your efforts:
Accounting and payroll are activities that you need to get right from the start. Xero offers various tools, including accounting, HR, and management, that are used by many small businesses around the world. Learn how to select accounting software. Paychex
Using an online payroll provider is the most efficient and cost-effective solution for your business. Improve your knowledge of payroll requirements, and learn how Paychex can help you. Payroll Systems: How to Start Paying Your Employees.
Basecamp lets you manage projects and teams from a single tool, ensuring team communication is effective. If you are a solo entrepreneur, you might not need this yet, but as you start building a team, you will see the benefits of using a central dashboard for improved communication. See Basecamp.com.
There are many options for building websites, but WordPress is one of the simplest content management systems available. The variety of themes and plugins ensure you can create a site exactly how you imagine it. Working with a responsive theme will ensure your site is compatible across mobile devices. If your intention is to build your business around a blog, start with Wordpress.com.
Creating unique content that keeps your customers engaged on a daily basis is one of the most time-consuming tasks for any website owner. Use this service to generate professional, seo-friendly blog posts and copy: See Constant-Content.com.
There has been much discussion about the need for SSL encryption, but many site owners are initially put off by the price and technical aspects. Let's Encrypt is a free and automated SSL service, so anyone can start using the HTTPS protocol on their sites. See LetsEncrypt.org. You should check newly encrypted sites with Jitbit.com/sslcheck to ensure that you did not leave any unsecure content on your site.
Running social media campaigns is necessary these days, but it can be time-consuming operating across a network of platforms. Buffer is a social media dashboard, letting you control updates, messages, and posts from one central place. Try it at Buffer.com.
Let's face it. The usual way of getting traffic to your website (ie., via Google, Bingads and Facebook) has gotten way too expensive, and you cannot afford to bid on the keywords you need. This is why building a traffic stream by starting your own affiliate program through LeadDyno makes so much sense. Learn how LeadDyno works
. Google Analytics
Tracking analytics will provide valuable insights into your site visitors and how they interact with and buy things on your website. Along with understanding where traffic is coming from, analytics can be used to track the path taken through a sales funnel. This analytic data is important for optimizing your site for increased traffic. See Google.com/analytics
Safe storage is an integral part of an online business. Losing important documents can take valuable time away, while preventing hacking attempts should also be a priority. Dropbox is one of the most established platforms for storage, but you can also benefit from the ability to share files between employees. Try it at Dropbox.com
Canva is perfect for those who struggle to create eye-catching graphics. Whether you want headers, advertisements, banners, backgrounds or plain images, Canva has numerous templates available and graphic design software you can use online. In a matter of minutes, it is possible to generate graphics that can really stand out on the page, even if you are not a designer. See Canva.com
Evernote is a modern way of taking a note for future reference. Most entrepreneurs are constantly brainstorming, but plenty of good ideas are forgotten over the course of the day. Evernote
lets you write a note, capture images, or create a list, while also syncing the notes across all your devices so you can use it online and on your cell phone. Shopify
Shopify is a complete solution for selling your products or services from anywhere. It integrates tools for ecommerce, mobile apps and in-person sales. With inventory tracking, attractive design, and payment integration, you can use this platform to: Sell Online
| Sell In-Person
Skype is an established communication tool, offering free calls around the world. Skype is also a great way to hold conference calls with customers, staff, and clients. Many online businesses employ remote workers, so staying in touch is vital. Use it on your laptop or download the mobile app. See Skype.com.
Google Apps is a collection of tools aimed at increasing productivity. Starting at just $5 per month, the service has been designed for teams, so is particularly effective if you have employees or contractors you work with often. Get professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and more synced across your laptop, tablet and phone. Among the tools, you have access to calendars, storage, conference calls, and document sharing, making team communication and collaboration a more streamlined process. Visit gsuite.Google.com.
Businesses should be capturing email subscribers for future communications. While there are plenty of email services, MailChimp is one of the best rated, and is free for low volume users. Various templates can be used to make your messages as eye-catching and readable as possible. They also provide built-in analytics so you can see which customers are engaging with your content. Visit Mailchimp.com.
Mind mapping is a great way of simplifying and communicating information. Whether to clear something in your own mind or advise your employees, XMind lets you quickly create a mind map of varying complexity. The templates are incredibly diverse, so you don't need any graphic design skills. See XMind.net.
The requirements of every business will vary, but these tools will be beneficial for the vast majority of owners. Don't stress out. You don't need to integrate each tool immediately. Try the one you think will be most helpful now. The aim should always be to increase productivity and simplify operations. Used smartly, this collection of tools can enhance each aspect of your business at each level of growth.
Search our blog to find more tools for small business owners.
Or, find apps for your business: Google Play | App Store
Linda Jenkins, December 05 2015
Drones, also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), could be the tools you need to get your business ambition off the ground.
Most of us are familiar with the concept. Pilotless drones are flying vehicles that are remotely controlled, often from hundreds of miles away. Flying Drones have become famous for their use in military operations in the middle east, as well as for more peaceful uses such as filming major sporting events and search and rescue operations.
Recently, the online retailer Amazon announced that it would soon be switching many deliveries to UAVs to save money and enhance efficiency. But what other areas of everyday life and the economy will be affected by the drone revolution, and how can your business benefit?
Readying the drone economy for takeoff
Firstly, it's important to note that drone use is restricted in the United States (and in most countries of the world). However, this is changing fast. The Federal Government is readying new regulations to allow drone owners to register their vehicles, and measures are being put in place to ensure that drones won't compromise public safety systems such as air traffic control. The European Union is also currently pushing through new regulations to clear the runway for a new generation of pilotless aircraft.
At the same time, companies have started to offer affordable drones for ordinary customers. Customers can order UAVs like the AR drone that come equipped with an advanced drone video camera. This camera can feed footage straight to Android or iOS phones, while the vehicle's batteries that provide 20 minutes or more of uninterrupted flight.
The drone market is set to expand rapidly in the near future. In 2014, sales of UAVs hit $130 million, a 50 percent rise from 2013. Industry analysts CEA project that this figure will exceed $1 billion by 2020.
Integrating drones into working businesses
The drone revolution isn't about taking holiday snaps or footage taken from your yard. It's about finding real-world applications for this exciting technology that can make real money.
Some of the most impressive applications of drones so far have been pioneered by major corporations. For example, the oil and gas giant Shell has used drones to substitute for humans in hazardous environments, while the airline Easyjet uses drone video cameras to carry out safety checks on hard to reach parts of its planes.
For ordinary people, UAVs will become a common site, delivering everything from books and CDs to clothes, newspapers and pizzas (Domino's Pizza was one of the first firms to announce advanced drone testing for their deliveries).
But what about smaller businesses? How can your startup turn a small investment in a pilotless craft into an income stream?
Turning UAV video feeds into hard cash
If you take a little time to master the controls of a UAV, you could quickly start making money from the camera drone's video feed. High quality aerial footage is in demand across a huge range of applications. You could find yourself taking wedding footage, producing video ads for real estate agents, helping farmers document the progress of their crops, or following participants in sporting events.
The real estate sector is going to become one of the leading consumers of camera drone delivered footage. Aside from showing off properties to potential buyers, UAVs can be a vital part of property surveys or architectural planning operations. In areas where storm damage is common, they can help to assess any repair work that needs to be done. They could even be used by pest control firms to scout out any roof damage from squirrels or raccoons.
In a competitive market, realtors are going to look for unique angles and methods. So why not position yourself as a provider of UAV footage to meet their needs?
Tourism is another huge growth area. Savvy hotel proprietors know that visitors like to be wowed by the scenery, atmosphere and architecture at resorts. Having skilfully produced aerial footage could make all the difference. From a small business perspective, who wouldn't want to make a little money filming at beach resorts?
Position yourself as a UAV expert
Marketing your drone services is going to be all-important as the economic importance of UAVs increases. It is almost certain that larger firms will stockpile fleets of drones and operators to cut the costs of running their operations, but there will always be a role for uniquely skilled small businesses.
Freelance job websites are a great venue to advertise your services and create a reputation for reliability and quality, and there are plenty to choose from. For example, Upwork and Fiverr both allow individuals to post up their services and rates.
However, the most successful camera drone businesses will show off their technical wizardry on their own websites and Youtube channels. Create a few sample movies showing how you can film family occasions or capture the natural world. With a basic portfolio in place and some information about what you can do, UAV operators can expect a steady stream of clients as the market heats up. Learn more about getting a drone operator license.
Give your business wings by investing in a drone
Entrepreneurs should always be looking for the 'next big thing' whether it's a new social networking opportunity, 3D printing or driverless vehicles. UAVs are going to become a routine sight above cities around the world. Smart content creators, marketers and small businesses are positioning themselves to utilize UAV technology (and launch new services) before it becomes mainstream.
By adopting early and mastering the skills required to make and market UAV footage, you can be at the forefront of a new, disruptive technology -- reaping the financial benefits in the process.
>> Shop Premium Drones Now
Top image courtesy freedigitalphotos & bplanet
Linda Jenkins, November 30 2015
We all love our cell phones, iPods, iPads, laptops and PCs, but what happens when you decide to upgrade and need to get rid of your unwanted technology? Depending on the decision you make it can destroy your own local environment, destroy a foreign third world environment or be recycled in a safe and responsible manner. Watch this TED talk by Arman Sadeghi, CEO of All Green Electronics Recycling, to learn why responsible recycling of your business and personal eWaste is so important:
Do you have a plan for managing the life cycle of your small business technology?
Did you know that improperly disposing of computers can lead to fines of $25K per machine and hurt the environment? According to InformationWeek.com, more than 65 percent of executives with purchasing authority are unaware of these potential fines and negative environmental impact. Most business owners are all too eager to buy the latest and greatest in tech gear, but never give a thought to what they will do with the systems once the technology is no longer useful to them. Before you purchase computer equipment, check with your computer retailer to see if they offer a disposal or asset recovery service, and if they do not, its time to buy elsewhere. Retailers offering disposal services will typically pick up your system, overwrite the hard drives, harvest materials for recycling, and provide you with a certificate stating this. It is imperative to go with a trusted company in this field since you can still be responsible for fines if your provider illegally dumps your stuff! These services can help you recycle responsibly:
Amazon Trade-In Program
All Green Recycling
Hope Phones | Medic Mobile
Find other certified recyclers near you
Top image courtesy Stuart Miles & freedigitalphotos
Linda Jenkins, October 23 2015
Whether you're a mobile app developer crafting code for a startup or a solo entrepreneur building a business in your hometown, understanding how end users are interacting with your product is absolutely critical for success. With feedback from your users, you can understand features they would like added, navigation problems they're encountering, and business communications they're not enjoying. From the email newsletters you send to the copy on your website, any and all components of your business are fair game for audience feedback. The more insights you have into how customers interact with your company, the better prepared you are to iterate on your offerings. Entrepreneurs who are focused on wowing their customers not only reduce their churn rate but also automatically create brand ambassadors. If you're ready to double-down on improved user engagement, here are a few feedback tools you might want to add to your entrepreneur's resource list:
Promoter lets you create user feedback surveys to better understand your customers' needs. You can request feedback on everything from your latest product release to the efficiency of your customer support team. Integrate surveys into your website, social media posts, or email newsletters. Promoter even offers a free plan to help you test the power of customer surveys for your company.
If you're looking for a technical feedback tool versus a user feedback tool, Apteligent is a must-discover resource. Monitor activity within your applications, regardless of whether you are developing upon the Android, iOS, or Windows operating system. Receive real-time feedback on transaction processing, error rates, bandwidth usage, and crash reports. You'll know exactly how your application is performing for users, so you can detect problems before they become major issues impacting your revenue. If you want one overall user-tracking interface for your mobile applications, Apteligent is an excellent option to consider.
Understanding how customers are interacting with your business is crucial if you want to reduce your churn rate and improve user experience. The better you are able to understand the features your customers love and the concerns they have with your offerings, the better prepared you are to exceed their expectations.
Image courtesy freedigitalphotos & Stuart Miles
Linda Jenkins, May 28 2015
Are you a small business owner who hates conducting inventory? Or do you hire an inventory company each year, yet never feel completely satisfied that their results are accurate? Thanks to mobile technology, you can now feel more at ease regarding your inventory analysis. Mobile apps now let you maintain an accurate accounting of your physical inventory simply by scanning the barcodes on your stock. With a barcode-scanning app on your mobile phone, you can now take inventory whenever you please. Whether you prefer a month-end tracking of your inventory levels or you opt for an inventory analysis annually, you can now leave the bulk of the work to your smartphone. Which of the following most popular barcode-scanning inventory apps will you be putting to work for your small business?
Barcode & Inventory Pro
The Barcode & Inventory Pro app lets you track stock levels via your mobile phone. Whether you have a small business with stock which cycles quickly out of inventory or you need to keep track of your inventory on hand for your duties as a mobile salesperson, this helpful Android app can handle your tasks. Features include barcode scanning, description personalization, category tagging, UPC and ISBN functionality, and unit count calculations. This app lets you assign icons to scanned items, lets you attach images of scanned items, and lets you create reports of your inventoried items. If you want to create inventory reports for your accountant, the Barcode & Inventory Pro app is a terrific option to consider.
The Inventory Droid app lets you take pictures of your inventory, scan UPC barcodes, personalize information descriptions, and indicate number of units on hand. Useful for home inventory as well as business inventory, the Inventory Droid app also lets you backup and export your data.
Goods Order Inventory Pro
The Goods Order Inventory Pro app is an excellent option for small business owners needing to keep an accurate count of their existing stock. This app's features include the ability to add multiple users, both mobile and Web access, data exportability, stock transfer capabilities, and report generation. This app lets you add images of inventoried items, lets you synchronize purchase order data, and even lets you add vendor data to your inventory counts. There is also a free version of this app, but business owners are much better off opting for the paid version for accurate inventory tracking.
Need a different solution? Search the best inventory management software here.
Linda Jenkins, April 02 2015
Are you having trouble staying organized as a business owner? Would becoming more organized help you to achieve more sales and boost your bottom line? There are a multitude of web-based tools available to help you and your team stay on track. From tracking remote team members' work assignments to presentation tools for mobile devices, the number of options is staggering. Following are five time management tools you might want to investigate before your competition does:
MindMeister lets you do everything from share your work with other team members to create visual presentations. You can brainstorm online with your entire team, or you can connect privately with a specific department. The number of features MindMeister offers is incredible. From social media data mining to live broadcasting, MindMeister offers numerous organization tools to keep you on track.
Stormboard offers real-time online organizational boards for teams. Instead of adding sticky notes to a whiteboard to keep track of project details, multiple team members can contribute to a Stormboard. From task assignment to project updates, every detail of a project can be tracked with Stormboard.
If product management is your weak spot, Blossom might be just what you need to stay organized. Offering features like analytics and update reports, Blossom helps software development teams collaborate and stay current on project details. Blossom integrates with both HipChat and FlowDock.
Trello is another excellent organization tool to consider. Offering features like organizational cards and project checklists, Trello can be customized to each team project. Trello offers time tracking, workflow monitoring, and even task assignment capabilities.
If you find it is the small details that tend to throw you off track, the Drafts app might be just what you need to stay organized. Rather than break up your routine or workflow to send a tweet or post a Facebook update, you can jot all of your task list items into Drafts and implement them later from the app. Available as an iOS download, the Drafts app helps you to stay on task and remember all of those to-do items that can interrupt your workflow.
Which of these organizational tools will you be using to better manage your time? Do you think that becoming more organized will lead to increased sales for you and your team? If time is money and you value your time, utilizing some of these organizational tools might be just what you need to see increased revenues this year.
Top image courtesy Chaiwat at freedigitalphotos.net
Linda Jenkins, April 02 2015
image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net
OneDrive (previously SkyDrive) is a cloud-based service that allows users to upload and sync files from a web browser or other device. Windows 8.0 and 8.1 now include OneDrive as the default drive for saving user documents, but the user can also choose to share folders and files across other platforms. This innovation shares aspects of DropBox, as well as Apple's cloud computing, and can be useful for accessing your files from any device. So, if your new business laptop came pre-loaded with Windows 8.1 you may be wondering how to share files. Here is a short guide to setting up your OneDrive for sharing:
1 Open the Desktop application in Windows 8.0 or 8.1.
2 Double click on the File Explorer icon in the bottom taskbar.
3 Click on OneDrive in the Directory window on the left hand side.
4 Click on the Share tab in the menu ribbon at the top of the page.
5 Double click on the folder you wish to open then select the file you wish to share.
6 Click the OneDrive button in the ribbon.
As OneDrive is intended to be used for cloud computing, the drive's full potential can only be realized by sharing files contained within it. So, once the OneDrive button is pressed, the selected file will be loaded to your live OneDrive account in the Microsoft cloud. From here the file can be accessed from the web, by your browser, or from other mobile devices by downloading the OneDrive app. However, users should bear in mind that this is Microsoft's default drive for saving any user created documents. There is, therefore, the potential danger of sharing everything you create online. As a guard against this happening, there are a couple of security features embedded in the system.
For those who use DropBox, the main security feature for sharing files globally will be familiar. A dialogue box will pop up asking you to enter the email address of the person you wish to share with. This stops the user from accidentally sharing files and folders with everybody on their contact list.
The second major security aspect is a warning that appears if you try and share your whole OneDrive documents folder, reminding you of the potential danger of taking this action. Therefore, if you do wish to share a complete folder, your safest option would be to put the files you want to share into the OneDrive public folder, which is also in the OneDrive directory, then make this the shared folder.
With the innovation of OneDrive, Microsoft has put their own mark on cloud sharing. Microsoft also offers One Drive for Business which accommodates more collaborative features including version tracking for documents so you can keep track of various iterations edited by multiple users. In today's connected world all operating systems need the facility to share files and folders across a range of devices, from other pc's and laptops to tablets and smart phones. No longer is it viable for an operating system to stand alone and, with OneDrive, Windows allows users to access their files wherever they go.
Making use of today's connected devices is crucial to staying competitive, just make sure you have a plan for responsibly disposing of devices that are no longer needed.