Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Free Online Backup Site You Already Own

In July I posted on Microsoft's new FolderShare program. FolderShare allows you to synchronize data from one computer directory to one or more other computers.

One of the nice features of this system is that it takes advantage of the fact that most computers have more than enough storage space. There is no reason to pay some firm to store data online when your home computer is sitting there with lots of extra space and an always-on broadband connection.

Since July I've been using FolderShare and have found that it works well for simple file sharing. FolderShare pretty limited when compared to true backup systems. It can only handle ten libraries or packages of data. This may not sound too restrictive until you find out that it cannot share an entire drive letter. So, if your data is all under drive D, you cannot make a share out of drive D. You must go into the sub-directories and share them separately -- and be under ten. This is possible for small organizations and for individuals. Of course, one could set up multiple FolderShare accounts, but that might become too complex.

One great use of FolderShare is as a method for backing up laptop data. Install FolderShare on a laptop and then invite your home or office to share the data. Whenever the laptop is online FolderShare will make sure any new files will be transferred.

I suspect that FolderShare's features will improve in the near future. Google will most likely come out with some file storage system that will force everyone else in the market to respond. BTW, you need to be extra careful of the computers you backup to. I would recommend encrypting the directories you store your data. You don't want the data to be accidentally exposed. And, as you might expect, FolderShare is only for Windows.


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