Trusting Foldershare – Almost

FolderShare AutoDeletes Files. Whoops – reports TechCrunch. As a Foldershare user I’ve also received the urgent email warning:

From 12/3/07 to 12/6/07, some files may have been accidentally moved from their original folders into the FolderShare Trash folder. The bug that caused this problem has been fixed.
The only files affected are ones with names containing certain characters, such as accents, trademark signs, etc. For example, “España.jpg.”

I happen to have an accent in my family name (which I dropped since I moved to the US – simplicity!), so Foldershare nuked quite a few important documents. Thankfully, the email came in time to recover all from the trash folder.

This is not the first time “accidents” happened, only the first time it was on such a mass scale Microsoft had to acknowledge it. (Foldershare was originally developed by startup Byte Taxi, which got acquired and the product is now part of Microsoft’s Live Services).

Previously I used Foldershare to duplicate all my data on a new laptop – since I had already used it to synchronize two other machines, I already had the libraries defined, just had to add the new computer. A random check at the end of the process uncovered 165 (!) p2p files (placeholders) with the actual content missing. Nothing in Foldershare warned me about these, and there was no way to force the placeholders to download the actual content. Foldershare Support was clueless, and to day I still wonder if I hit some unpublished limit with the massive amount of data I wanted to copy all at once (not the typical use case for Foldershare).

Not on the above scale, but similar glitches still occur, where a file is not synchronized, a .p2p file is created instead: I have learned there is no way to fix those, just delete the .p2p, rename the original file to something else on the source machine, and the new file will likely be synchronized.

Another annoying bug is when for some reason a file is locked on the destination computer and Foldershare chokes. It does not allow to skip the “offending” file, the only choices are retry (won’t work), or shut Foldershare down – that’s just plain stupid.thumbs_down

Despite all the above, I’ve become very dependent on Foldershare: it’s a fundamental piece of my infrastructure. I let it synchronize the two laptops and a desktop, then I use the desktop as the “master” which will back up data online to Mozy. Mozy is a life-saver, and has improved a lot since I first covered it. Of course the third part of my strategy is the increasing portion of content that does not even exist on my local disks: documents created by Zoho Writer or Sheet, safely in the cloud.

All in all, this system works, but Foldershare is a step shy from being a “set-once-forget-it-even-exists” stage, which is what these infrastructure services should aim to deliver.