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Summary:

Like many people, I use more than one computer over the course of the day. Keeping my documents folder synced between machines is a high priority. FolderShare is a free program which allows you to sync folders over the internet. While FolderShare was bought by Microsoft […]

FolderShare Like many people, I use more than one computer over the course of the day. Keeping my documents folder synced between machines is a high priority. FolderShare is a free program which allows you to sync folders over the internet. While FolderShare was bought by Microsoft over two years ago, they have kept Mac support. Installation is quite simple. You download a zip file and run through an installer. You have to do the same over at the other computer with which you plan to sync.

From there, you can define which folder or folders you want to sync. These folder pairs are called “libraries.” Each library has a 10,000 file limit and you can have up to ten libraries. FolderShare runs in your tray if you use Windows or places an icon in your menu bar on your Mac. I have used the program for my Mac running Leopard (and previously Tiger) with a Windows XP machine. Everything runs smoothly as long as firewalls are set up properly.

The web interface is rather sparse, but everything is laid out simply. The start page shows you your libraries and gives you the option of syncing your folders, accessing your fies and sharing with friends. You can invite other people to have access to your files and decide permissions for your invitees. The permissions options are Reader (can only download and open files, cannot alter files), Contributor (can add new files), Editor (can edit and delete files), Senior Editor (can invite other users to this library). The person you invite must then download the FolderShare software.

One of the more interesting features is access to your files through a browser. Files are not stored online for online access – FolderShare is a peer-to-peer system. This means that if you turn off your other machine or shut down the application, remote access to your files disappears. That being said, the files you can access online are not limited to those you chose to share. You can access your entire hard drive through the web interface and download whatever you would like. Running the application in the background did not seem to have any noticeable impact on the performance of any of my computers.

The main feature of FolderShare is syncing two folders over the internet and FolderShare does that very well. The fact that it can turn any computer into a file server accessible through a web browser is a very cool feature that effectively expands your local network over the internet. The best thing about FolderShare is that it is free. And yes, a Microsoft product is not bad (as long as they keep Mac support).

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  1. FolderShare is great, overall. There are only two things that bother me:

    1. it is not a universal binary.
    2. I cannot find a way to keep the FolderShare icon out of the Dock. Any idea?

  2. I could never get it to work properly.

  3. Folder synchronizer works very well, it has an universal binary as well. But, its not free.

  4. Our McNucle does not do synchronization but offers remote rich client access. This client provides file search and management of the entire file base, and from any machine. It also includes templated web access, but that rather serves lightweight sharing with friends or family. It’s free.

  5. We’ve been using FolderShare for quite a while, and aside from some usability issues (“simple” doesn’t always equate to “makes sense”), the biggest drawback is that it ignores Mac files with resource forks, like Freehand files or Photoshop files that have previews.

    Why there are still previews in a resource fork, when there is evidently a way to store it in the data file (for Windows users) is beyond me. This is the one big drawback to FolderShare. I hope they either incorporate file fork handling or everyone just drops the use of them in the Mac development world.

    FS is indispensable to our two-person consultancy though: All project files sync’ed at all times.

    PS – Leopard’s auto-generated previews appear to be messing up our PhotoShop files with FolderShare now!

  6. to keep foldershare out of the dock simply download a program called “dockless” google should guide you to it

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