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March 18, 2010 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Something-like-a-fileserver-filter: I have two computers, one with a scanner. Want to scan files with that computer but have them (immediately?) available to the other computer.

I'm scanning large files (medium and large format negatives) with an old laptop and then processing the files on a more powerful desktop (the scanner software slows the desktop down and annoyingly occupies the desktop (thanks again, Epson!).

Currently I'm doing basic edits to the files in photoshop on the laptop, and then transferring them via thumb drive to the desktop. I'd like to be able to scan them and then have them available to the desktop. Both computers are running XP.

A side issue is that the LCD on the laptop is terrible and is hard to make the visual adjustments on the scan. The LCD on the desktop is great.

A further side issue is that I'm currently broke, and have very little to invest in this project. But all solutions will be considered.

So possible solutions would be, in order of greatness:
1) Somehow controlling the laptop and the scanning software via the desktop (so I don't have to use the LCD on the laptop), and somehow being able to save the files to the desktops hard drives, so I don't have to transfer them.

2) Being able to pull the files off the laptop via wireless? Not sure if this is possible. Could I make the laptop a server? Would this interfere with my other wireless (internet) signal?

3) Pulling the files off the laptop via USB or ethernet between the two computers?

I'm a newb about anything networky past finding a wireless signal. Really appreciate your help with this.
posted by sully75 to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Number one is going to be easiest, I think.

Both the MacOX and Windows have what's called remote desktop functionality, where you can control another computer remotely. You'll still need to manually load the documents to be scanned--no way around that--but you can create a shared folder on your desktop and map it as a network drive on the laptop and get the scanner software to save its files there.
posted by valkyryn at 6:57 AM on March 18, 2010

Assuming your computers are on the same network, you can just create a folder on the desktop and share it over the network. Then you should be able to tell the scanning software on the laptop to save the files into that folder.

You can control the laptop remotely using Remote Desktop, as valkyryn said.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 6:58 AM on March 18, 2010

I don' t think you want to make the laptop a server. More likely you'd want to make the desktop your server and connect to it wirelessly with the laptop. Bearing in mind however that the wireless connection might be kind of slow for transfering large image files. I don't know if this is really an optimal solution, but you could set up a wireless network, and then create a shared network folder on your desktop. Then you just put a shortcut to that folder on your laptop, and save the files directly into that folder after you've scanned them. Don't try to work on the files saved in your shared folder with your laptop though, as that will be agonizingly slow. You'd have to think of that folder as more of a dropbox.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:00 AM on March 18, 2010

Check and see if you can set the scanned images to save to a folder of your choosing. If you can, set up a shared folder on the desktop, and on the laptop, map a network drive to the share on the desktop. Set the scanning software to save to that shared drive.
posted by deezil at 7:01 AM on March 18, 2010

Remote Desktop won't solve the moving-the-file problem, but if the two machines are in the same room, you can also right-click whatever folder the scanner saves scans to and use it as a "shared folder". It will be visible from the desktop by opening \\laptopname\foldername, whatever you call them, and you can just drag and drop across like that.

If you find the wireless is too slow for this (how big are these scans, anyway?) you can do something similar with a crossover cable if both machines have a free network jack.
posted by mhoye at 7:04 AM on March 18, 2010

posted by hungrysquirrels at 7:10 AM on March 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Thanks for the help so far, this is great.

One crucial piece of info I forgot: I scan the images in at very high resolution 750mb files, and then resize them to much smaller than that, all on the laptop. So I think the best solution is one where the files are initially on the laptop and I can do the file transfer after the resizing. So if I can control the laptop via the desktop (see the scanning software on the laptop LCD) that's optimal.

I'm working on setting up the remote desktop thing right now.
posted by sully75 at 7:11 AM on March 18, 2010

Raw files: 700ish mb
Processed files: 100-200mb
posted by sully75 at 7:14 AM on March 18, 2010

If the LCD on the desktop is great and that's really the primary issue, it would strike me that the easiest solution as long as it's not an all-in-one would be to unplug the LCD from the desktop, plug it in to the laptop as an external monitor.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:26 AM on March 18, 2010

For any sort of "controlling the other computer" I recommend Free, easy to set up, and easy to use. For file sharing, Dropbox. Drop the resized images into dropbox, and within a shot time they'll be on the other computer.
posted by toekneebullard at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2010


Just save your files to the folder that dropbox will synchronize and do all of the image processing (including resizing) on the desktop.
Easy peasy.

Otherwise, simply share the folder where the laptop drops its scans, and then map that folder as a network drive on your dektop – this accomplishes the same thing as dropbox, but will be faster and more efficient. Although, it will require a little more configuration. There are plenty of how-to guides on the Internets for file sharing between two computers. Anyone you can think of who “knows” computers will set it up for you in five minutes for pizza/tacos and a beer.
posted by terpia at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2010

Can you plug the monitor you use on the desktop into the laptop when scanning?
posted by buzzv at 11:57 AM on March 18, 2010

I hear you're broke, but RemoteScan ($149) appears to do what you're looking for.
posted by buzzv at 12:00 PM on March 18, 2010

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