Cybertip: A Review of LapLink Professiona

20 July 1999
Lot's of things can go wrong with computers. They may not boot. Software can crash. The list is endless. I think the scariest thing that can go wrong is when you lose data and it happens silently. I'd rather a file blow up because at least then I know that I need to retrieve my backup.

Right now, I'm in the midst of silent destruction by a major brand-name product, LapLink Professional by Traveling Software. I use LapLink to synchronize the data between my desktop and notebook computers.

Specifically, my problem is that when I synchronize at the office using the Firm's network to transfer the data, LapLink will appear to work perfectly. I accidentally discovered that this is an illusion. What it does on a few apparently randomly selected files is change the date and time stamp for a file, but not actually transfer the new file. The result is the silent destruction of data.

The temporary workaround I discovered is that if I turn off the "SpeedSync" feature, the problem goes away. ("SpeedSync" makes data transfers move at a significantly faster pace.) While this is fine when working over the LAN, which moves data at supersonic speeds, it's not reasonable workaround when I'm transferring over a telephone line. With SpeedSync off, my transfers over a telephone line would take hours.

I'm telling you about this for two reasons:

One is so that I'm trying to get the word out regarding a possible bug in LapLink Professional, but that's really too narrow a purpose for this column. It's one bug in one software package and the purpose of this column isn't bug reports.

The primary purpose is to lament about the state of tech support and the way it's delivered. Let's start with weekend telephone tech support which has become largely a thing of the 386 past.

Now, software companies are trying to automate support as much as possible on the Web. That's good if you can find your answer online, but my personal experiences with this have been generally poor. (The Microsoft Knowledge Base, which you can find at, is a notable example of a good online database of tech support information.)

Travelling Software, the maker of LapLink Professional, has online support with a Spartan database, but it does offer the opportunity to send an e-mail to a technician. It's web-based email--wouldn't it be nice if I could just send an email to and get a response?--but I sent it in about a week ago.

They warn you that you must come back to a not-very-easy-to-find spot on their website to find your response. (Please explain why they can't just send an e-mail to my chosen address instead of forcing me to come back to their website.) Well, it's been a week. The website notes that I have an incident number, have medium priority and have been assigned to the web queue. I wonder how long it will take to get a response. I wonder if it'll be a meaningful one when it comes. I'll let you know.

Meanwhile, be cautious if you use LapLink Professional.

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