After the last entry in which I talked about Windows Live Folder Share another application came along that may have even more potential. Announced in the Zoho Blog, a new file backup, sharing and synchronization service called Syncplicity has been launched. This one does do what I was hoping Windows Live FolderShare might do with an interesting Web2.0 twist.
Syncplicity is a an on-line backup and file synchronization tool. You first have to sign-up with the service at www.syncplicity.com and download and install the desktop client [which is only available for Windows XP or Vista at the moment]. On launch, the application offers to synchronize your Desktop, My Documents, My Pictures, [optionally] My Music and My Favourites (only IE bookmarks at the moment) folders. Unless you have less than the 2 GByte of data that the free service provides, this is probably not what you want to do (at least while you’re trying out the service).
A second option allows you to selectively choose folders to backup. I chose this option and backed up one of my folders that I want to be able to share with my other computers, and some colleagues in a small work group. This option is a bit fiddly, as the default when you navigate to My Documents is all sub-folders selected. (Warning: if you don’t have your files sorted into folders, the entire contents of your My Documents folder will be uploaded anyway!) Having de-selected all but the folder I wanted, the application uploads the files to the on-line site from where you can add more computers [limited to one more on the free trial plan] to provide cross synchronization. Unlike Windows FolderShare, this should work when one computer is off-line as the master copy of the files is now stored on the server.
Once your files are uploaded (and for a large amount of files on broadband this will take a long time because upload-speeds are much slower than download speeds) they can be shared with others and synchronized between your registered computers.
But the web2.0 twist is this: is that once your files have been synchronized they can be manipulated from the folder view by various web versions of your favourite desktop applications. For example, word documents can be edited in Zoho Write, any document can previewed and printed and distributed using Scribd iPaper, and photos can be edited in Picnik. Presumably options to edit spreadsheets and presentations using Zoho and maybe even Google Docs will come later as the service reaches critical mass. With Syncplicity, you might actually be able to one day free yourself from the yoke of the Desktop Office Suite! Of course, if you want to be conventional, editing with your usual Office tools will still work and changes will be synced to the central repository.
At $9.99 a month for 40 GByte of online storage with more available in 50 Gbyte chunks for an additional at $9.99, Syncplicity may also be cheap enough to be worth considering as a paid for off-site backup service. [While it’s in beta, syncplicity has unlimited storage].
I have discovered that Syncplicity also supports syncing with Google Docs and provides easy photo sharing for Facebook. For the former, you provide Syncplicity with your Google Docs credentials and it creates a new Google Docs folder in your My Documents folder that it synchronizes on-line andin your client computers. At the moment, only word processed documents are supported. Once synchronized, you can edit them off-line using word or on-line using Zoho Writer. There’s no Edit with Google Write option as yet so it will be interesting to see how much document fidelity is preserved when editing with multiple clients. Syncplicity promise not to lose any data and will provide backup copies of files that contain incompatible features. However, just being able to have a backup of your Google Docs on your desktop may be compelling enough.
For Facebook, Syncplicity provides a way to easily share photos. Any folders found in My Pictures become folders that you can share as a Facebook album. Any albums you have on Facebook will be available off-line as folders in your My Pictures folder. For this to work, you have to be syncing your My Pictures folder of course!
Chris Jobling July 2nd, 2008
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