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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Foldershare.com, online file sharing, and back ups...

Foldershare.com looked like a useful application: it enables synchronisation between any web-connected device upon which it's software is installed, and also allows remote-access to the files on those machines from any web browser.

Er, except it's not any web browser. When testing it, I could only access my machine with Internet Explorer - both Firefox and Opera failed. Not much use then.

Foldershare.com is now part of Microsoft's Windows Live portfolio, so I don't expect to see them rushing to add cross-browser compatibility.

If you want to access files on your computer from anywhere (assuming it's turned on and connected to the web), Avvenu seems your best bet.

For online file storage, there are several options. Perhaps the strongest looking is Omnidrive. It should feature the ability to access the online file store as if it were a local drive (e.g. saving directly to it from Word), enable viewing of media through browsers (so you could watch your videos in any web browser), and other niceties.

There are other options for file storage which don't match the promised whizz-bang of Omnidrive, but are available now: box.net ("a big box on the internet to put all your stuff in") does the whole upload what-ever you want and view it from anywhere jig, with 1Gb of storage for free and 5Gb for $5 a month. It offers nice uploading options and (manual or automatic) desktop synchronisation.

There's also orbitfiles, an almost identical service, also with uploader, 1Gb free etc. The one key difference between the two is that for free plans, box.net has a maximum file size of 10Mb, while orbitfiles has no limit.

Interestingly box.net seems to be getting much more traffic than orbitfiles - better marketing, I guess, and box.net also has a much better website.

But if you're just looking for an easy way to back up your files, Mozy is a good option. You get 2Gb free storage (or 5Gb for $20 a year), and the software quietly back up your selected files in the background as needed. You can't, however, access your files from other web devices. The service is funded by sending users weekly e-mails of adverts.

My own preferred back up option is just to have two computers in my house (a laptop and a desktop, as it happens), and use FolderSync to keep my files synchronised (also very useful for synchronising flash drives).

Of course if my house burned down I'd be stuffed! But I don't have the bandwidth to back up all my files online, and it would cost me some $100 a year to back up to box.net (currently the only one of the above options which offers a plan with enough storage space for all my files).

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