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Today's useful software: Foldershare

I had a couple of hours to kill yesterday afternoon, between meetings, so I sat down in a Starbucks to do some work. Unfortunately the files I needed were on a PC at home, and working with a VPN over GPRS is tedious to say the least...

No need to worry - I'd left the PC on and running Foldershare's satellite - so I could fire up a browser session, connect to my account on their web site, and copy the files I needed onto my PC. I was able to get what I wanted written, and still have time for a venti chai latte and some lemon ginger cake...

Foldershare used to be a pay for service, but after Microsoft bought it, it switched to free. There are OS X and Windows clients, so you can copy between OSes happily - and you can have more than one PC associated to your account. You can use it to automatically sync files between machines, but I'm sticking with just using it as a low bandwidth VPN solution.

A useful widget.

...and no spyware or adware either


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 29th, 2005 12:13 pm (UTC)
I have an SSH server running on my 2003 server at home. I can collect files when I'm elsewhere.
Nov. 29th, 2005 12:20 pm (UTC)
As I said, I find those methods too slow for practical use over GPRS (or 3G for that matter). Wired protocols and mobile networks do not mix.
Nov. 29th, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
I'm confused. In what way is this unlike a wired protocol? You are still transferring a file directly from your home PC to your laptop. Unless FolderShare is doing some funky on-the-fly compression (and one hopes encryption too) with smart re-try on failure in some way particularly suited to mobile connections, in what way is this not like using an SFTP client? I appreciate the advantages in things like synchronisation and sharing, these can be tedious to set up with SFTP, but unless it works out your connection speed and type and alters the file transfer accordingly (packet sizes, retries, etc.) automatically, what would be the difference in transfer speed and usablility if all you are doing is copyinging a few files?
Nov. 29th, 2005 01:47 pm (UTC)
SSH and the like tunnel other protocols - which adds a considerable overhead over narrow bandwidth links. They're also optimised for wired connections - large packet sizes and low latency.

More lightweight solutions don't tunnel, don't add overhead, and tend to be designed to work for smaller packet sizes and higher latencies.
Nov. 29th, 2005 03:33 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. Unfortunately, since FolderShare provide no details on their protocol, it isn't clear what the overheads in their protocol are, nor whether it makes specific provision for mobile users.
Nov. 29th, 2005 03:41 pm (UTC)
ssh doesn't "tunnel" data transfers; it uses exactly the same SSL encryption that a web browser does, and probably with less overhead because it's not dealing with RFC822 headers, cookies, and the like. And it uses zlib for compression. Of course, I don't know what else is going on with Foldershare, since it's proprietary. They might be doing something like rsync, which would help with synchronizing large files with small changes, but probably not otherwise.
Nov. 29th, 2005 03:44 pm (UTC)
Let's hear it for rsync over ssh!
Nov. 29th, 2005 06:19 pm (UTC)
Mandelbear, Hello? (It's me draco).

Here are a couple of links that go a little deeper:

Delta compression, restartable checkpointed sync, and, most important easy point to point hookup using secure certificates.

Yes, though one could do the same with ssh and a bunch of geek based commands, foldershare lets the masses experience file sharing without the mind numbing configuration hassle. I think this is the salient difference between the linux community and proprietary consumer driven products made by Apple or Microsoft; The former like the neat, compact and option laden approach whereas the latter companies prefer gaining marketshare by making things easier for ordinary folks.
Nov. 29th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC)
interesting - how does it compare to Groove?
Interested to know what you think of Groove as a way to sync your docs. I know people that put all their my docs into a groove workspace that they then use from every machine they have - works in the background too and good over http without vpn.

Darren Strange
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )