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Keep Your Files at Your Fingertips

Illustration: Marc Rosenthal
Lots of people use remote access primarily for file transfer, and rarely (if ever) for desktop control. So why carry a Swiss Army knife when all you need is a can opener? If you want simply to access files remotely, share files, or sync folders on different PCs, there may be a better solution.

Two services specialize in file sharing and syncing: BeInSync ($100 a year, with a $60 introductory price) and FolderShare ($50 a year for the Personal version; $100 a year for the Professional version, which lets you share more files and folders). Both programs have free basic versions that will meet many users' needs by syncing only a few key files. This approach ensures that you'll have up-to-date information (via your local shared folder) even without establishing an Internet link.

We got both programs running in less than 10 minutes, although Windows XP's firewall asked us to approve each one. You install the software on at least two machines, and then you designate folders on each system that will be synced automatically across all machines in your subscription. This operation happens in the background and does not affect your normal use of any of the synced computers.

In addition to syncing changed files in the selected folders, you can designate some files and directories to be shared with other people, an extremely useful capability for workgroups. All file transfers are encrypted and sent peer-to-peer over an authenticated private network.

The primary difference between BeInSync and FolderShare is FolderShare Professional's speed, as it syncs only the files' changed data. However, FolderShare Personal's low cost and unlimited computer support get that service our nod.



Becky Waring is a freelance writer and former editor of NewMedia Magazine.
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