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FolderShare remote computer search: better privacy than Google Desktop?

by Sid Steward
Feb. 15, 2006
URL: http://desktop.google.com/plugins/i/foldershare.html

This is a follow-up to an earlier post of mine about Google Desktop's new remote computer search feature. I am enamored with the idea of PCs as peers on the Internet, serving any of: VoIP, webmail, blogs, photos and media to my friends, family or the world. You can see this emerging today in Skype, Hello.com and FolderShare.

I think Google Desktop is moving in on FolderShare with some of its new features. FolderShare appears to have more respect for privacy, however. And FolderShare has mature p2p file sharing today.

The EFF criticizes Google Desktop's remote search for storing your PC's files on Google's server:

... If a consumer chooses to use it, the new "Search Across Computers" feature will store copies of the user's Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets and other text-based documents on Google's own servers, to enable searching from any one of the user's computers. ...

Yikes. Meanwhile, the FolderShare user agreement makes it pretty clear they want nothing to do with the contents of your private documents:

... You are solely responsible for the contents, modification, management and/or deletion of any and all files and data used by you in conjunction with FolderShare. ... ByteTaxi does not maintain such files or data on its server, but it may log certain information regarding the files you use in conjunction with the FolderShare service, such as file name and file size; provided, however, that we will not access the file itself or any data or information contained therein.

This sounds great. But why say "provided, however"? I'm not the best at interpreting legalese — I hope that means what I think it means.

I sent an email to FolderShare customer support about where they store the search index for remote computer search. On the peer, of course:


I see I can search remote computers using FS + Google Desktop or MSN Desktop Search (using plug-ins). I wonder: is the search index stored on my machines or on your server (or a third-party server)?


Hi Sid-

When users remotely search their computers with FolderShare and Windows Desktop Search or GDS the indexes are stored locally, not on any central servers.

A p2p service that keeps everything on the peer. I like that.

Sid Steward is a programmer, writer and entrepreneur. He maintains the PDF Toolkit and wrote PDF Hacks.

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