Put All Your Data in Several Baskets

By Jamie Bsales | Posted June 13, 2007

Wouldn’t it be great if every PC in your business had the latest versions of all your important files, if all your employees (even remote ones) could share files without shuttling them around via e-mail? While you're at it, add the ability to access your data over the Web from any PC -- and throw in backup for peace of mind, too.

Well, you can. All you need is a dedicated server running a business- class OS, plus a VPN (virtual private network) solution, collaboration software and a backup utility. Oh, and an IT person or outside service provider to set it all up and keep it up-to-date with the never-ending barrage of security updates and patches.

Clearly, if your business has just a few PCs, that route is overkill. For you, there’s BeInSync 3.0. This simple-to-use utility keeps the files on up to five machines synchronized, so that each machine has the same data. Add or update a file on one PC, and the changes propagate to the others automatically via a secure peer-to-peer Web connection, no centralized server required.

In addition to synchronization, BeInSync also lets you easily share files among several people, as well as access folders on the PCs associated with your BeInSync account from any Web-connected computer. It’s also a complete online backup solution, offering automatic scheduled backup of the folders you specify. So with a single monthly subscription, you can take care of all your data-sharing, data-access, and data-storage needs.

Sync, Share, Back up and More

BeInSync 3.0 screen shot
BeInSync features an easy-to-use tab-based interface.
(Click for larger image)
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BeInSync is ideal for people who have both a desktop and laptop computer (or an office and home machine) and who are tired of e-mailing files to themselves or swapping documents to and from a USB flash-memory drive. Files you place in a designated folder quickly appear in that folder on your other BeInSync PCs.

If a PC is offline, BeInSync checks for new and changed files the next time you connect. And unlike e-mail or online file-sharing sites, there are no file-size limits or need to upload a file to the service.

Worried about accidentally or inadvertently deleted files propagating across all the machines in your network? BeInSync developers thought of that. If you delete a file from a synchronized folder, it will disappear from that folder on your other PCs, but it won’t actually be removed from the hard drive. Instead, the program moves it to a local “Deleted items” bin inside the shared folder (so you can restore a file if you need to).

BeInSync also delivers basic remote-access capabilities. Simply log into your account via BeInSync.com, and if the machine you need to access is online, you can drill down into its folders to grab a file. You can’t control a PC or perform other tasks typical of a full remote-control app, but it’s a handy way to get to a file you need.

Businesses that need a central repository for shared files can also make use of BeInSync. Simply set up a project folder, designate it in BeInSync as a shared resource, and indicate which people have access. The files in the shared folder will be updated continually on all team members’ PCs. This feature is convenient, if imperfect: It doesn’t stop two team members from working on the same file simultaneously as could a network solution. Instead, BeInSync will flag a file that had simultaneous changes, and ask you to pick which version you want to save (which means one person’s changes won’t get incorporated).

With its latest version, BeInSync has also added backup features. You get up to 5GB of online storage space for backups included with a paid account, and you can pay for more as needed. You can schedule backups for a set time, or have BeInSync continuously back up new and changed files as you work.

Easy Setup
Getting started with BeInSync is easy. Simply log on, register for an account, and then download and install the program on any PCs you want to connect. The user interface is easy to navigate, and features prominent tabs at the top for each task (Synch, Share, Backup) and a Windows Explorer-like view of your files in a pane to the left.

The wizard-driven interface lets you select which folders you want to sync, then prompts you to go to the other PCs and select a destination for that shared folder. BeInSync handles the rest in the background. Since all data is going through the Web from your PC and back down to the others, synchronizing a large folder (say, one with many megabytes of photos) can take some time (dependent on your connection speed). But small data files you create or change propagate nearly instantly.

Best of all, BeInSync is affordable. A free version is available for personal use, and lets you synchronize two PCs and back up 1GB of data. Business users will need to step up to the Pro version, which supports up to five PCs and a total of 15 shared folders, and includes 5GB of online storage. A subscription costs just $59.95 per year, $99.95 for two years or $149.95 for a perpetual license.

If you're tired of shuttling files manually or never having the file you need where you need it, BeInSync is the way to go.

Jamie Bsales is an award-winning technology writer and editor with nearly 14 years of experience covering the latest hardware, software and Internet products and services.

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