I first read about FolderShare on Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed. (Infectious greed is an excellent site; Paul is some kind of freakish VC who actually can write code and has a very high common sense IQ. If you read two sites about the Internet business, they should be Infectious Greed and Paul Graham.)
I finally figured out he was talking about a web service/application, so I went and tried it out. At first, I didn't really get it; the interface seemed a bit clunky. But then, whoa. Something clicked and I realized that it was something I have been thinking about for years. Real, simple, fast, unobtusive file synchronization.
They really nailed the simplicity of it. Well almost, since it did take me a bit of time to "get it." There are a few things they can do to guide people to that moment of clarity a bit quicker.
I keep many parts of my home directory under CVS control; this lets me synch the dozen different unix home directories I have around the world, at least in terms of things like shell setup, emacs lisp, etc. It works well, except:
- I have to remember to check-in and check-out semi-regularly.
- If I change a file on machine A, then I don't check in, and I go to machine B, and I don't have ssh access to machine A, then I'm out of luck.
- It's not something I could ever get my wife to understand or use.
- While easy to set up on just about any unix (cvs and ssh are pretty much everywhere now, it doesn't help on Windows. Not that I use Windows much, nor do I need my shell init when I do.)
- Binary files are a bear.
Now, FolderShare can't replace my little CVS hack, partially because there is no Linux client (or any client except Windows and Mac), but also because I actually care about the revision history for those files I keep under CVS. But, for Word documents, or keeping my wife's files in synch between her office computers at home and work, FolderShare totally rocks.
I'm still poking around, and the security issues have me a little bit on edge; but I haven't seen any serious holes yet. But if you are a Windows or Mac user, or both, and you have a lot of computers you have to work at, you have to try it.
OK, here's the kicker. FolderShare is a Microsoft product now. They acquired the company that makes it. Maybe they are finally waking up and smelling the network.