FolderShare dropped the ball


Perhaps like many other switchers, I haven’t yet let go of my Windows machines and probably won’t do for quite some time for specific things. The challenge is then, how to keep selected files in sync between the various machines?

At present I have a very elaborate system using SyncBackSE (Windows), ChronoSync (OSX) and a D-Link NAS device. My original Windows PC holds the master copy of most of my files (documents, pictures, mp3s, eBooks, videos, etc.) and SyncBackSE runs daily to copy these all across to the NAS. Then using SyncBackSE on my backup Windows PC and ChronoSync on the Mac, I ‘pull’ the files from the NAS so that I can access them directly as required.

Sounds a bit complicated, but it works well. SyncBackSE has a wealth of options for copying and moving files around and I’d even go so far as recommending in place of more traditional backup solutions if you’re of the same mindset as me, and that is – if I lose a Windows machine (e.g. HD crash) then I’m quite happy to rebuild it ‘manually’ so long as my data is safe and can be brought back. It also means your data is backed up in an easily accessible form rather than some proprietary format used by some backup software.

FolderShareThe thing is, I have some key files that I’d like to copy off-site in case of disaster, and that’s where I thought FolderShare might be a good idea. Now I won’t waste your time with the Windows side of it as it’s really straightforward and does exactly what it says on the tin. Install the client, tell it what you want to sync and off it goes. A short while later the relevant folders are sync’ed between your PCs. Unfortunately it isn’t so straightforward with the Mac OS X version of  the client software. Sure it’s dead simple to install and configure, but then… well, nothing happens! The Mac just sits there repeatedly requesting the files to sync and never getting them. You end up with a load of ‘placeholder’ files on the Mac that have the .p2p extension, but that can’t be used in any way.

It’s not my router that’s at fault – that has UPNP already configured and working, and the Windows machines sync just fine. Maybe it’s the firewall on my Mac? Well it’s set to allow all incoming connections and looking at the Port Status in FolderShare it tells me that it can initiate connections on all four ports (80, 443, 6571 and 8000) as well as accept connections on the last two. Compare this with the Windows machines and it’s the same. Googling the problem doesn’t help much, there’s threads from many people describing the very same problem but no-one seems to have the solution other than to disable encryption on the Mac and on at least one of the Windows PCs. I tried this and it worked, but I was unhappy about sending my innermost secrets across the web without at least some sort of protection.

Thinking laterally, I could set up a TrueCrypt folder on each machine and just sync that, or I could password protect each individual file but that would be a pain. So for now, my Mac isn’t joining the FolderShare party which is a real pity as the service is a nice idea. I do wonder if the fact that on all machines (Windows and Mac) port 443 is Ok for initiating connections but blocked for accepting connections, but I did read a post from someone who tried opening the port to no avail.  I’ll continue to search for a solution.

Oh a word of warning. If you get to this position and decide that you may as well delete all the .p2p placeholder files from your Mac, then make sure that you remove your Mac from the FolderShare partnership BEFORE deleting the files. If you don’t then the deletions can get sent back to FolderShare prompting it to delete the matching files from your partner PCs!

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6 Responses

  1. Aye my MacPro wont sync either. It lets me add the computer but when choosing which folder to sync with simply will not allow me to access my mac hard drive to choose the relevant folder.

    Curses.

    I have 2 pcs and a Macbook pro that are syncing fine..so i cant think whats up with the mac Pro. Any ideas?

  2. I gotta say, I was LOVING Foldershare to sync files ‘tween my two macs (one Tiger, one Leopard).

    Then I made the mistake of using it on my boss’ three machines: one Leopard iMac, two XP lappies.

    The iMac will push changes to each, the lappies will push changes to each other, I wasn’t able to get ANY changes from lappies to the iMac.

    Finally, a friend wiser in the ways of Linux suggested checking permissions: Lo, the iMac’s shared folder “everyone” permission was set to NO ACCESS. Once changed to READ ONLY, the files began moving.

    UNFORTUNATELY, they’re only moving part way, which is what brought me to this site: the files being uploaded from the lappies sport the p2p extension and won’t open. I will try dropping the encryption and see if that resolves the problem.

    One more thing: Foldershare is NOT a Universal app. It will hog massive amounts of resources on Intel-based macs. Oddly, it bothers me less on my MacBook than it does my friend with his MBP, where it visible impacts video playback. I fear, however, that the Windows Live guys are going to let Mac development languish in this lovely product: their blog’s been unanswered since the June update came out.

  3. I must confess that I too was a little concerned that the Mac client for FolderShare was being left out in the cold.

    I have recently started using DropBox and the Windows/Mac clients have been very stable. SSL is used as the transport for everything, plus the data is encrypted (AES-256) before being stored which goes some way to addressing the security concerns of the Mac FolderShare issue.

    http://www.getdropbox.com (open beta)

  4. Question: I’ve seen reference in several forums to “dropping encryption on the Mac and ‘at least one of the PCs'”, but can’t figure out how to do that on the PC! The setting is there, clear as day on the Mac, but the PC’s SETTINGS option is woefully inadequate.

    Can you point me to this?

  5. No, it’s not in the registry.

    Bush, from this site, http://www.vistax64.com/live-folder-share/165085-cant-disable-encryption-windows-xp.html

    Look in \Documents and Settings\XXX\Local Settings\Application
    Data\FolderShare\settings (“XXX” is your Windows userid)

    In there is a file called something like 999999.ini (“999999” is
    presumably your FolderShare user number). Edit that file with Notepad
    and change this setting:

    encryptTransfers = false

  6. Oh, and be sure to do this while Foldershare is closed. Close FS, then change the setting (I would use save as and write over the file to be sure), then restart your computer. These steps might not all be necessary, but I did them to ensure it and it definitely works now.

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