I found FolderShare through a podcast and thought I’d try it out. It’s in beta at the moment and has clients for Windows and Mac OS, No Linux (again). It’s a very simple solution and could be well suited to home users. The only drawback from making it viable for power users are that it lacks complex syncronizing rules and the computers have to be on for them to syncronize. From a preference stand point it lacks Linux support and does not support online storage.
It has an “Agent” sitting on the desktop where changes can be made to settings and an activity monitor which shows all the transfers that are happening (highlighted with a red box above).
You register online to the FolderShare service which does not use the Live / Passport sign on username and password. Once complete you have to register each computer on the FolderShare website and all folder syncronization or “sharing” is set up on the website. From choosing the directory to “share” to setting up the directory you want the folder to syncronize to. You can setup personal and public shares which is nice.
You can see the computers that are registered to the FolderShare service and also change their name.
When you access the FolderShare website from the client on the computer it always opens Internet Explorer, not the default browser. The website but does work with Firefox.
In the client settings there is a “Computer information” area where it displays the name of the computer you have given it. Also states “Basic Version”. I’m guessing they will be charging for the service once it is out of beta. It has built in AES 256bit encryption. The client also has a handy port information. It can tell that it is behind a NAT and shows the port statuses. I’m assuming the list shows the ports it uses but unfortunately you can’t change the port the program uses.
It allows you to setup the number of files it sends and recieves at a time as well as downloading through the Internet (cool!). Encryption and compression options are also available for the you to change. If a file/folder is deleted, it does not remove them straight away. It moves them to a very obscure directory but fortunately this can be changed.
FolderShare creates .p2p files as a place holders for files when it is syncronizing. I have not come across this file format before.
On the Mac side it’s a different story. It works very well on Windows and is very good for home users. On the Mac I experience hanging issues where you get the spinning beachball of death when you do anything that is related to the desktop agent. Registering and creating / syncronizing using the website was fine and was exactly the same as the Windows conterpart (except the directory structure). But you can tell it’s not as well created like other background programs like Quicksilver where it just appears as a taskbar? icon. It appears twice, once in the taskbar (no problems) and second time in the dock.
I also had a problem shutting down the first time where OSX would display an error message that FolderShare is still running. Do you want to continue shutdown or those lines. The following times the notebook shutdown fine.
If possible, I’d leave the mac client alone once it’s set up until they fix the hanging problem. I have yet to see syncing conflicts nor have I experienced any file / folder deletion.
I also had problems when I already had a copy of the files on both sides. Instead of skipping the files, they were renamed to xxx_computername where xxx is the file/folder name and computer name is the computer it came from. It doesn;t resolve conflicts very well and I would have liked to have been asked which copy I’d like to keep or ability to see they are the same files. It’s best to sync with an empty directory to avoid this.
They need to make the taskbar icon change or animate when it is doing something linke when it’s transfering files. Also there is no option to pause syncronization. The only option I can see is shutdown which is not 100% ideal. Also whilst it is a good idea to set everything up on an online webpage, it should have the ability to do so offline. I don’t see why I need net connectivity for it to syncronize other the network.
The obvious improvements for the Mac client would be speed / performance and for the client to only display as a taskbar icon.
On the whole the Windows side seems fine and would recommend it to share between Window to Window computers on the other hand I would hold off from installing it on the Mac.