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Windows' FolderShare Replaced With Live Sync

written by: Brian Nelson•edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 6/2/2010

Microsoft's FolderShare service is a great way to keep files synced between computers, and it is going away. Find out whether or not you should torch the place.

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    When I first came across Microsoft’s FolderShare, I thought it might be kind of useful, but unnecessary. I have grown out of that opinion. Instead, FolderShare is an important part of my business. FolderShare keeps all the files on my laptop in sync with the files on my desktop computer. This doesn’t sound like much, but when you run your own freelance business, you work where you can, when you can. Which means that the file I was working on at 6:30 AM on my desktop PC that just needs a few more tweaks before it can be submitted to the client needs to be accessible at 12:05 PM in the restaurant when I find out my lunch meeting just canceled.

    I used to cart documents back and forth on a USB drive, but inevitably, the one I needed was on I didn’t have on the USB drive. So, I got bigger USB drives and put everything on it. Of course, then I needed an image file to go with the document, but that wasn’t on the USB drive because there isn’t enough room for all of those images too!

    Whew! Thankfully, FolderShare takes care of all this for me. Having set up my folders with all of my professional files as Personal Folders on FolderShare, the latest version is always sitting on whatever computer I happen to be using, no matter where I edited it last. It works so well, that I had forgotten all about it until I added a new laptop to the mix and realized I had no idea what the password was for my FolderShare account.

    Then, I found out the horrible news. Microsoft is retiring FolderShare. I am already very irritated at Microsoft for their staggering ineptness on Black Friday with the CashBack deal at HP, so I started formulating a plan to destroy them once and for all, when I noticed that they would be offering a service called Microsoft Live Sync in FolderShare’s place.

    Microsoft Live Sync

    Fortunately, it appears that systematic annihilation will be unnecessary. A new service will replace FolderShare that offers much of the same functionality. In fact, the new service will be identical in pretty much every way to Foldershare with just a couple of exceptions. So, why retire the FolderShare service at all? In a word, branding.

    Google has made incursions onto Microsoft’s turf by offering online versions of certain MS applications. Microsoft’s counter punch to this is to build up an array of services under the Windows Live brand name. Although FolderShare was kind of, sort of, almost, part of Windows Live, the truth was that no one saw it that way. It had its own domain name ( and no one ever called it “Live FolderShare." The other issue FolderShare has is that it does not use the Windows Live username and password like other Live services do. While this is no bother for many users, it does rob Microsoft of the opportunity to provide another reason to not only have, but to actually use a Windows Live ID.

    So, the re-branding of what even the FolderShare team’s blog calls FolderShare 2.0 will be called Windows Live Sync. The new name will force people to reference the Live brand (just calling it “Sync" will be too vague to let people know what you are talking about) and it will integrate with the Windows Live ID. This may be an issue for some, but more on that some other time.

    The good news is, that in every other way Live Sync will be the same except with bigger limits. Live Sync will allow up to 20 folders with 20,000 files EACH. When I first started using FolderShare I tried to set my entire “My Documents" to sync only to be denied because of the 10,000 file limit (photos and sounds add up fast) and you were limited to just 10 folders. According to the FolderShare team blog, those limits should go up as they ramp up the service.

    The only bad news is for users that have Shared Folders. I’ve only used Private Folders to sync my own documents between my own computers, but it is possible to also share out folders so that others can sync with them. While the Private Folders will be migrated, the Shared Folders will not. Users with Shared Folders will need to reset them manually.

    We’ll give you an update when Live Sync goes live in December.

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