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How to remotely grab files off your home PC

(MoneyWatch) Until we store all of our digital files in the Internet "cloud" -- and given the ongoing privacy, security and reliability concerns with the Web, that might yet be a while -- we will continue to accidentally leave important files behind. You might have left something on your home PC that you need at work, or vice versa. You might even realize you need a critical file that's on your desktop in the office when you're on a business trip halfway across the country.

No matter what the situation, it appears that MIcrosoft's SkyDrive has your back.

You may have heard that SkyDrive is Microsoft's cloud storage solution, which is baked into Windows 8 and in the newest version of Microsoft Office. It is also available as a download for older versions of Windows. And you probably also know it starts you off with 7GB for free.

What you might not be familiar with is Fetch, one of SkyDrive's lesser known features. In a nutshell, SkyDrive lets you browse a remote PC and review important documents via your browser. You can upload files to your SkyDrive account and then download them to any PC.

In order for this to work, a few things need to fall into place. The remote PC must have SkyDrive installed, of course. And the Fetch feature needs to be turned on. You might have let SkyDrive enable it automatically when you installed the app. But if you didn't find SkyDrive in the notification area of the taskbar, right-click and choose Settings. Then check "Let me use SkyDrive to fetch any of my files on this PC." Click OK and reboot.

Finally, the remote PC must be turned on whenever you need to reach it remotely.

To use Fetch, open a browser on any PC and go to your SkyDrive page. From there, find your remote PC in the navigation pane on the left side of the screen and locate the file you need. It's that easy.

Of course, your remote PC needs to be turned on for this to work. But the fact that SkyDrive lets you pluck any file off the computer -- even ones not stored in the SkyDrive folder -- makes this an incredibly useful tool for anyone who finds themselves using more than one PC.

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