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There's more to peer-to-peer networking than swapping remixes of "The Girl from Ipanema." BeInSync takes file-sharing technology, where PCs talk directly to each other sharing files and data, and turns it into a secure collaboration and remote-access tool. Although we're big fans of the folder-sharing software's clean and logical interface, BeInSync lacks some important features, including configurable user permissions on shared folders, necessary to make it an outstanding product.
For anyone who's struggled with setting up file sharing in Windows XP, BeInSync's seamless installation will seem like a cakewalk. Unlike FolderShare, however, BeInSync works on only Windows-based PCs, not Macs. Simply download the software from BeInSync.com and install. Whereas FolderShare offers three service plans, BeInSync offers only two. The free version of BeInSync is limited to 5 shared folders and 10 file updates per day. BeInSync Pro costs $6.95 per month (or $59.95 per year) and lets you have up to 15 shared folders, allows unlimited file access, and provides for Web-based remote access.
BeInSync wraps up the installation process by depositing an icon on your desktop. Double-click the icon to bring up BeInSync's console, which looks somewhat like Windows Explorer, with navigation of shared folders on the left and lists of shared files on the right. Repeat the process on up to two more PCs. Unlike FolderShare, which gives you an unlimited license for all your computers, BeInSync limits you to three PCs. Click "Share with my computers" to select the folders you wish to share across the network. BeInSync automatically copies folder contents to the other computers, so whenever a file is changed, added, or deleted on one system, the changes propagate to the other systems. We especially like the fact that BeInSync secures data transfers with 256-bit SSL encryption. You can also create Group Shares, inviting up to nine guests to share folders on your system. BeInSync sends guests an e-mail inviting them to download the client.
BeInSync's cleanly designed desktop interface extends to the software's Web-based remote access service, which lets you log in to BeInSync from any browser and, after providing your username and password, view your shared folders. BeInSync's remote Web-based downloads are encrypted.
On the downside, BeInSync feels like a program that isn't quite finished. For instance, though BeInSync offers synchronization of e-mail and contacts, this feature works with only Outlook, not Outlook Express, and you'll also need to view your e-mail and contacts within BeInSync--they aren't made available in your remote Outlook client; nor does BeInSync sync Outlook as it makes e-mail messages and contacts from your main PC available on a second PC. Also, BeInSync lacks user permissions for shared folders, so you cannot, for instance, allow someone to view the contents of a folder while restricting them from changing or deleting that folder. The company expects to add these features to future versions of the software.
BeInSync offers technical support via an e-mail form on its Web site. The Web site also includes product documentation and a step-by-step user guide.