Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FolderShare, Dropbox, Syncplicity, Oh My...

foldershareI've been a user of FolderShare on my multiple Mac computers for quite a few months now. FolderShare is a FREE application that is provided by Microsoft (they acquired the FolderShare company in November, 2005). It does run on a Mac, but the Mac version is very old (not a Universal Binary, so it has to run in PowerPC emulation mode), and showing its age a bit.

OK, it's really called Windows Liver FolderShare (beta).

FolderShare mostly works, though. And, when it works, it works very well. It's a peer-to-peer way to synchronize your folders across multiple computers. What that means is that Microsoft never owns a copy of your files - they flow directly between your own computers, using 256-bit AES encryption (good enough). They limit each "share" to 10,000 files, which is a limit that I have absolutely run into. And it was not pretty unraveling the mess that was made by blasting through it (likely user error, but it was not entirely obvious how to recover from it).

I am bold enough to use FolderShare to even synchronize the active source code that I am editing across my desktop and laptop. This is a bit scary, but all my stuff is backed up by Subversion and Time Machine, so it's all good.

dropbox Enter Dropbox.

Dropbox is still in Beta and, unfortunately, I don't have an invite yet. However, the video demonstration looks very slick. It's different from FolderShare in that it does store your files "in the cloud". By storing your files centrally, it also adds the ability to version your files - basically providing a backup service along with a synchronizing service.

It appears that you have to place files within a "Dropbox" folder in order for the product to work. That's different than FolderShare, as FolderShare can work in whatever existing folder you specify. Since Dropbox is in Beta, and I really haven't seen it, who knows how it actually works. Stay tuned for more later (when I get my Dropbox invite, that is).

Dropbox has received a ton of press coverage, including articles in TechCrunch and the GigaOm Network.

SyncplicityLogo Enter Syncplicity.

Also in Beta, and currently only available for Windows, I haven't had a chance to kick the tires on Syncplicity either. But I know the founder well, and have had numerous long talks with him about the product, the product philosophy, the target customer, the market, the competition, and where Syncplicity wants to go.

At this point, Syncplicity feels like the perfect combination of FolderShare and Dropbox. Like FolderShare, Syncplicity allows you to work within any folder - you don't have to specify a side folder to do your backup/synchronization. Like Dropbox, Syncplicity integrates tightly with the Explorer/Finder to work the way you want to work, and also provides a cloud-based, secured version of your  files (and the requisite benefits of having that).

I look forward to watching how these products evolve. There is a definite need for something like this, and I do think the need goes way beyond the tech crowd.

12 comments:

  1. [...] to the products I talked about last week in the article, "FolderShare, Dropbox, Syncplicity, Oh My…", SugarSync is a tool that keeps your files synchronized across multiple computers (PC & [...]

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  2. I have a few invites for dropbox if you would like one. Email me, and Ill give you one. =)

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  3. Wow, I am really in the market for these products. Not only do I have Windows and OSX to sync I also am looking to review something like this for my blog. Any news on the invites for Dropbox? I am submitted but still waiting :)

    Cheers

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  4. Very intresting article and comments....Dropbox is a file sharing application for the multiple platform user, allowing users to synchronize PC and Mac files in a straightforward interface.

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  5. I dont agree wiht all .I think Nomadeks is best for all

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  6. I've used Foldershare for a couple of years. I like it but ...

    1. Doesn't handle network drives, only local ones.
    2. If a drive becomes unavailable for any reason, ALL the synced folders for that computer become de-synced. You have to go back in and re-establish them.
    3. Sometimes it gets confused about conflicts and wants you to answer a question right then on that computer. Nothing else happens until you do so. So you have to be at the computer to see that there's a problem.
    4. There's a "critical section" problem: if Foldershare gets confused (see #3) and suspends syncing, then when it resumes it can sync an older version of a file, overwriting the new version on another computer. There's no notification and no recovery. This has caused me some major problems.
    5. Tech support is pretty indifferent; but then, it's free.
    6. Sometimes the site is down, at one point for a couple of days. No syncing takes place then.

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  7. (resubmitting this since I typed wrong email address first time)

    I've used Foldershare for a couple of years. I like it but ...

    1. Doesn't handle network drives, only local ones.
    2. If a drive becomes unavailable for any reason, ALL the synced folders for that computer become de-synced. You have to go back in and re-establish them.
    3. Sometimes it gets confused about conflicts and wants you to answer a question right then on that computer. Nothing else happens until you do so. So you have to be at the computer to see that there's a problem.
    4. There's a "critical section" problem: if Foldershare gets confused (see #3) and suspends syncing, then when it resumes it can sync an older version of a file, overwriting the new version on another computer. There's no notification and no recovery. This has caused me some major problems.
    5. Tech support is pretty indifferent; but then, it's free.
    6. Sometimes the site is down, at one point for a couple of days. No syncing takes place then.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Then there's Beinsync for $50/yr. On the surface, a nice product, but I've had nothing but problems getting it going as a trial user. Worst part: tech support responses are measured in days (sometimes a week, sometimes never). Even Foldershare, which is free, has better support.

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  9. A bit of a shameless plug, but I've thrown my hat in the ring as well with Fragment Sync. A Foldershare-like service is provided, allowing a peer-to-peer sync over the internet, but the focus is really on allowing sync with a variety of devices and services.

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  10. These might be worth a try for your personal files like photos and music. Just don't trust your business data to free, cheap or beta backup services. That's like skydiving with a paper mache parachute on a rainy day.

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  11. Use this referral link and you'll get 250 MB extra!

    http://db.tt/nrvpoAN

    Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete