CyberNotes
Tutorial Thursday




Have you ever had two or more computers that you wanted to synchronize files between that weren’t all located on the same network? Maybe you have one computer at work and another one at home, and you want some of your more important documents or reports accessible from both locations. No problem!

Back in 2005 Microsoft purchased a service called FolderShare, which is used to keep files on multiple computers all in sync with each other. And we’re not talking just Windows computers, but Mac’s, too! There aren’t many free tools out there that are capable of syncing files on multiple platforms, so this is definitely something to treasure.

–Why FolderShare–

There are a lot of reasons why you should use FolderShare if you have more than one computer, but here are my favorites:

  • None of the files are hosted on FolderShare, which means you don’t have to worry much about privacy. It’s just like sending a file to someone over an instant messenger, except it is automatic.
  • Files up to 2GB can be shared.
  • There is no limit of any kind on how many files you can transfer.
  • Any files, regardless of filetype, can be transferred.
  • The web management screen works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Opera.
  • Sync files, share folders with friends, or access all of your files almost as if you were using an FTP.
  • It’s fast! Files will often be synchronized to your other computers within minutes.

Note: After you download and install FolderShare it will have you setup an account within the program.

–Syncing Files Between Computers–

One of the best features about FolderShare is its ability to sync files (even large ones) between multiple computers. You can set it up so that the folders are automatically synchronized, or only when you tell it to. It’s simple to setup:

  1. Go to the My FolderShare page and select the Sync My Folders option:
    FolderShare - Sync 1
  2. Click the Specify folders to sync option, pick one of the available devices from the left side of the screen, and browse for the folder that you want to sync. Click Next after selecting the folder.
    FolderShare - Sync 2
  3. Now select another computer from the Available Devices column located on the left side of the screen. The folder that you just selected in Step 2 should be one of the options immediately available, but you may choose the Specify Folder option if you want to select a different destination to sync to.
    FolderShare - Sync 3
  4. Choose whether you want the files to be automatically synced, or just synced when you tell it to. Then hit Next:
    FolderShare - Sync 4
  5. That’s it! Now you’re files will be synced between computers faster than you know it.

–Sharing Files with Friends–

Not only can FolderShare keep your files in sync, but it can also help share files between friends. You can create a folder, or select an existing one, and share the contents with your friends. Each time you change the folder’s contents FolderShare will update the files on all of your friends’ computers.

Here’s how that works:

  1. Go to the My FolderShare page and select the Share With Friends option:
    FolderShare - Share 1
  2. Select the device that you want to share files from on the left side of the screen, and then choose the Specify a folder option:
    FolderShare - Share 2
  3. Browse your computer to find the folder that you want to share. All system folders and folders you don’t have access to will be blocked from sharing. Just fill in the bubble next to the folder that you want to share and click Next:
    FolderShare - Share 3
  4. Your folder will be validated to make sure it exists, and that you have the correct permissions to share it. Then you’ll be prompted to add the email address of your friends. They’ll need to create a FolderShare account and install the software if they have not already done so.

Now you and your friends can share all of the files that you want, without the need to email them to each other. Just drop them in the shared folder and let FolderShare take care of the rest.

–Web Downloads–

FolderShare can also act as a web-based FTP, and it doesn’t require any additional action other than installing the FolderShare application. Once that is setup you’ll have access to all of the files on the computer that you have permission to. If you need to download a bunch of files, however, it could take quite awhile. Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Go to the My FolderShare page and select the Access My Files option:
    FolderShare - Access 1
  2. Select the device that you want to get files from on the left side of the screen, and then browse for the file that you want to download:
    FolderShare - Access 2
  3. Clicking on any of the files will download them straight from the remote computer to yours.

–Overview–

As you can see FolderShare is an extremely versatile application that should be used by anyone who finds themselves away from their computer(s). I’ve used this service for a long time, and when the service was down for a few days in November I found out how much I really missed it. Other than that one time the service has always been available when I needed it, so it is also reliable.