At one point or another everyone has a need to share a file. Whether it’s sending a photo of the new baby to dear Aunt Maude, or circulating a document amongst work colleagues, it’s all the same problem. Modern files are typically too large to reliably send as attachments without a lot of work, and file sharing options like Dropbox are both vulnerable and limited because your files end up stored on their servers.
Which is where the new AeroFS service comes in to its own. This free peer to peer system offers fully private, unlimited storage and sharing of files using your own computer/s. No central server to log into, no file size limits, or password vulnerabilities. All the sharing is done privately between your hard disk and the people who you invite to share. In order to start a share, just create any folder (or use an existing one) and right mouse click the app icon and click ‘Share Folder’ to select it. That’s it.
One huge advantage of this kind of system is you don’t need the Internet. Because you’re sharing via P2P, you can have multiple computers sharing on your home network without the need for your Internet connection to be working. That’s because the devices see each other directly over your WiFi connection, and don’t need to access a remote central server as they would with Dropbox. Great for sharing files for printing for example.
The handshaking between computers and the sharing itself is securely locked behind some heavyweight 2048-bit RSA security, which makes sure the information can’t be eavesdropped and sharing is as simple as sending an email. There’s zero complicated setup or configuration, and in fact once you’ve downloaded the client (supported on Linux, Windows and Mac), it’s a matter of seconds before you’re ready to go. You can additionally share folders with as many people as you like (so long as they have an email address).
It’s worth noting that although there’s no central server storing or keeping files in sync, there is a minimal amount of data used by the AeroFS central server which is used to validate the user in case they need to set up a new device remotely and access their folders. This information is limited to hashed password, user name and their permissions, so that if all their devices are offline and they need access, they can quickly set up a new share.
The system is in beta testing at the moment, and so there are limited places available for those who want to test, so sign up is via email invite. I’ll try and get some invites going, so if you’re interested sound off in the comments. From our first view of the system, it looks to be an incredibly well thought out and engineered solution which offers all the benefits of large scale file sharing without the headaches of centralized control. Definitely one to watch!