Scott Hanselman

Overwhelmed and enamored with FolderShare

September 6, '05 Comments [18] Posted in Reviews | Gaming
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Sure, there's other applications that have tried to solve problems like this before, but holy crap FolderShare nails it. Thanks Omar for the pointer!

I've been looking lately at getting some offline storage as my data situation is carrying with it a little too much "psychic weight." However, all these folks out there charging like $10 a month for a few gigs of offline storage? Please. Madness. 5 Gigs for $10 a month from XDrive? 5 Gigs? That'd barely cover my collection of Presentation PPTs.

FolderShare just nails it. Tiny download, 256-bit AES encryption, the files never touch their disks. That's freaking awesome.

I did the download, got a free account, and made a file on my desktop called "Shared Desktop." I'm all about using the Desktop as a work area. Then I clicked "Sync My Folders" and now I've got a folder on my desktop that is the same on my 3 machines. I can drop a file in there and it appears on my tablet.

I used it today when giving my MSDN Webcast. I just dropped my PPT in the folder at home and it was waiting for me at work.

Looks like there's three major classes of things that FolderShare can do:

  • Sync n number of folders (Depending on what you pay. Free gets you 2.) to and unlimited number of machines. Amazing.
  • Share a folder with another person. Much easier than FTP and the various other "get a big ass file to your friend" services that are out there. And really, when was the last time you were able to transfer a file using MSN Messenger? Puhlease.
  • Here's the kicker: Access your files from any machine, over the web. Cool? Kind of, but the real shiny thing is that you can do distrubuted search of all your machine using either Google Desktop or MSN Search. Since I run both on all machines, I'm not sure which is the preferred provider, but it works regardless.

This new development has me totally rethinking my storage strategy. This is finally a technology that cements P2P in my world. It's profound and very Internet 2.0-like. And their pricing structure is brilliant. Finally a company that realizes that I'm ONE GUY with a LOT OF CRAP. Don't penalize me for being a technoweenie.

Ideas:

  • Setup a Family Pictures folder that the whole family drops files from their digital cameras into. No one ever loses a picture if one hard drive crashes. Everyone sees photos as they are saved.
  • Save Video files from Windows Media Center 2005 and share out video of a show that my mom may have missed. (Not sure if this works, but, we'll see.)
  • Backup my Music files automatically to a NAS (Iomega NAS driver can apparently run FolderShare in their firmware. Wow. And I'd counted Iomega out of the game.)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, 07 September 2005 01:00:03 UTC
Cool. I saw that on your desktop during the presentation and was wondering about it. I've been looking for that kind of thing for a while to sync my home and work computers; ironically I finally hear about a good solution the week before I leave my corporate job to work from home...

Thanks again.

Oh, and please post some info on the WordML codegen when you have time.
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 01:38:00 UTC
Looks very promising. I really like the family picture sharing idea but was wondering if you knew if every family member would need to fork over the $50 for the read/write access? It is probably still worth it even if they do, but it would make it a harder sell for my family members. :)
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 02:31:37 UTC
Have you tried the SyncToy powertoy for just the sync'ing between computers issues? I need to back up photos between some computers and have SyncToy on my list to try.
Jeff
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 03:25:47 UTC
Have you looked at iFolder (http://www.ifolder.com/)? I haven't used it yet but the concept seems similar and it's open source.
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 07:09:15 UTC
I'd read Omar's blog entry on this as well and wanted to play with it today - but I got tied up with work :(

Now I definitely need to check this out.

I have been using SyncBackSE and a 100GB 2.5" external HDD. But FolderShare is much much sexier.
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 07:49:22 UTC
I guess this is one of those cool tools which you've always looking for and when you've found it, everybody tells you that there is tool X which does the same even better or for less money...

Take a look at the virtual office made by groove.net :
http://www.groove.net/index.cfm?pagename=VO_Compare

Cheers,
Ralf
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 08:10:42 UTC
I'm pleased FolderShare is getting some good press! I've been a FolderShare subscriber since May and haven't looked back. For the first time ever my files have a semblance of order!

I have always struggled with lifecycle management when I bring a new machine online and decommission an old one. Now it is simply a case of adding the new machine to the network and asking FolderShare to distribute a few folders. The first ones I subscribe to are:

WindowsPrograms - xcopy deployable applications
WindowsInstallers - the latest installers for apps I use

After that I subscribe to BusinessDocuments, MusicCollection, Photos, Movies, Website, HoldingBay - depending on what the machine is going to be used for.

They have a weblog at:
http://www.foldershare.com/blog/

BTW my FolderShare ID is 'jcansdale', if anyone has stuff to share or would like an offsite backup. Just invite me. :)
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 09:50:11 UTC
I was going to mention iFolder - but see someone already has!

My two questions about FolderShare are:
* Does it send deltas across the wire, or the full, uncompressed file?
* Does it support NAS devices without a FolderShare daemon? eg I have a Buffalo 1Tb Terastation - is it supported?

Wednesday, 07 September 2005 14:43:53 UTC
Awesome Scott! I love this tool.
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 14:45:07 UTC
I've been using FolderShare for a while now, and I've got no complaints whatsoever to make about the service!

My number one use for it is sharing my PasswordSafe password.dat file (along with the PasswordSafe exe) between all my computers, so that wherever I am I have access to my password database. And if I add a password to the db, it gets sync'd to all my other PCs. Pretty darn useful if you ask me!

I also use it to backup essential data files, such as my MS Money data file.
Pascal Bourque
Wednesday, 07 September 2005 17:22:14 UTC
Wow, lots of comments...here's my thoughts:

Bryant - I think that the free version should serve the needs of most family sharing needs. I'm going to try it.

Jeff - the synctoy powerthing sucks. It was a good effort, but ultimately, IMHO, fantastically disappointing. Pretty as hell, but just a bummer. Give it a try for yourself.

Cori - iFolder looks interesting. This is concerning though: "When using the iFolder 3.0 server, the iFolder client first synchronizes the files in your iFolders to the intermediate server, then replicates them to other computers." So, that method isn't cool for me, but it looks like it supports some kind of p2p, but less clever and less firewall friendly.

Ralf - Groove has always been cool, but chokes on 1000s of files or more and is a memory hog.

RichB - I just upgraded to a 7-day trial of the Professional edition, and it does both deltas and compression. I've noticed the difference immediately. Not sure about the Terastation...maybe you should try it as a network share? Dunno.
Thursday, 08 September 2005 09:25:53 UTC
Frankly I found Foldershare to be disappointing. I was hardly able to set it up and the Web interface is horrible. I now personally use Beinsync (http://www.beinsync.com) and would reommend it to anyone who does not need to sync a Mac machine, as it's much simpler to use... and cheaper!
TJ
Thursday, 08 September 2005 12:24:13 UTC
I hate people who spam their own product at the expense of others, especially when their own product is inferior.
Not TJ
Thursday, 08 September 2005 16:32:04 UTC
Ya, that was kind of weird. I'm not sure how clicking "next, next, finish" is hard to set up. If folder share was any easier it wouldn't have a UI.
Scott Hanselman
Friday, 09 September 2005 02:21:13 UTC
I'm loving foldershare. I've been using www.orb.com for remote access to my multimedia. But the sync and search features of foldershare are awesome. Especially for software projects. I can just check my project out a work from VSS, share it and work on it locally at home. Then check in the next day at the office. Very cool.
Orb is still nice for multimedia however because it just streams your audio and video from your host pc, you don't always want to sync your 9 gigs of mp3's. Check it out orb.com.
Darren Mombourquette
Sunday, 06 November 2005 17:15:24 UTC
I assume you noticed Microsoft just bought them?
Now I wonder how Max did it's shared photos, and whether they'll use FolderShare technology for that..
Thursday, 19 January 2006 11:14:34 UTC
Just thought you might want to hear a caution about FolderShare which I noticed on someone's blog today:

http://www.aspnetresources.com/blog/foldershare_corrupts_outlook_mail.aspx

Thursday, 19 January 2006 20:14:32 UTC
Yikes, that sucks. They have a quasi warning about PST files: https://www.foldershare.com/info/faq/UsingFolderShare.php.

I had a little trouble in that they sync deletes. I DELETED the contens of a whole folder from the command line (not the folder, the CONTENTS) and the delete started spreading throughout my other connected machines. It was a bad time.
Scott Hanselman
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.