We’re taking a look at FolderShare and SyncToy. FolderShare is a company that just, as in today, got bought by Microsoft. FolderShare’s service is a peer-to-peer based tool that shares your folders, either amongst your different devices or friends and family. SyncToy is a free product produced by Microsoft that has been in release for the last few months and is being talked about as a replacement for Robocopy.exe.

FolderShare is available as a free trial-version download at the moment and it works with either Windows or Mac OS X. Once you’ve downloaded the tool, called FolderShare Satellite, FolderShare creates a little icon on your desktop and your task manager. Clicking on either one brings this up in your browser:

Once you’ve done finished the first installation, then you need to install FolderShare on a second device and associate that device with your account, as you did with the first install. Having FolderShare installed on two devices will allow you to synchronize. You will then be able to Sync your folders through a web page that looks like this:

As you can see, there are some set options that make it very easy to synchronize your devices. However, you can also choose specific folders on each computer to synchronize. It’s a nice feature of FolderShare that you only have to be at one of the computers in order to see all the folders on every computer associated with your account.

At this point, you can set up the files to sync and away you go. Here we have chosen to sync the Favorites folder:

Once you have set up your various syncrhonization schemas, FolderShare allows you to review them via a simple Home Page:

Of course, FolderShare has to reconfigure your firewall a little bit in order to complete all of its tasks. Here is what the firewall looked like on our first machine after the FolderShare installation:
As you can see, FolderShare has been added to the exception list on the firewall.

What FolderShare will offer to Microsoft is a nice way to move further into web services. Web services is that long-held pipe dream that seems to be inching more quickly toward realization of late than it has done in the past several years. With FolderShare’s technology, Microsoft has purchased an off-the-shelf answer to consumer pitch of Citrix’s GoToMyPC, which is focused on having to complete work that one has left somewhere else (e.g. the office) from the comfort of one’s current workstation. Moreover, with Office Live, which Bill Gates announced on Monday, FolderShare further integrates the usefulness of such tools by providing constant access, without any need to have the data hosted by some third party.

If you recall, this last point was one of the major hangups of the initial web services pipe dream. Who in their right mind would want to store all of their personal or business data on Microsoft’s servers, in order to take advantage of the web services? With FolderShare the data is readily available without any added storage costs, since the peer-to-peer technology that it stands on, is the same stuff that is in use by Grokster, LimeWire and BitTorrent, except your data is on a private version of a peer-to-peer network and only you, or those you’ve invited, can see your data from registered devices.

There is no doubt in my mind that Digital Rights Management will continue to be relied upon and perhaps be integrated into this system. Otherwise, it will be very easy, from a widely distributed platform, such as Windows, to share songs, programs, and movies amongst your friends. Heck, I’m thinking about doing that, right now. . .

(For the second part of this posting, click here.)