Description of project:
In one sentence: PowerFolder cares about your data. Simple, Secure and Reliable.
PowerFolder is a solution to securely sync, access, share, backup and transfer files between computers over the Internet or in LAN. It makes valuable files always available no matter where you are. Many things make PowerFolder unique:
- It’s peer-to-peer technology enables the user to be independent from a central service provider.
- The integrated delta-sync algorithm (similar to rsync) and the zip compression makes PowerFolder very efficient. It runs automatically, so backups are no longer forgotten.
- Coupled with state of the art encryption, PowerFolder (Pro only) ensures that data is always kept private.
Our commercial open-source nature is also unique for our type of software: We offer a free Basic version (GPL) and a commercial Pro version.
Why and how did you get started?
The first prototype of PowerFolder was completed after a 40-hour coding session in February 2004. The idea for PowerFolder came up already in end of 2003. It was the fascination of peer-to-peer networks, which made me start PowerFolder.I believe this technology has great potential for private and commercial users.
What is the software’s intended audience?
Private persons and small- to mid-sized companies who are interested in an affordable and easy way to sync files. For example, PowerFolder often replaces existing rsync setups because it’s easier to setup and runs automatically.
How many people do you believe are using your software?
That’s not easy to say, since we don’t have a mandatory central user registry. We estimated that PowerFolder was downloaded 300,000 times [over] all. That’s from sourceforge.net, our homepage, and other download pages.
What are a couple of notable examples of how people are using your software?
Let me point out typical uses: Most people use PowerFolder to keep their computers automatically in sync or backup their data online or in LAN. Companies use PowerFolder to keep teams in sync or replicate geographically dispersed servers.
One of our customers, Panztel, an international company that develops and hosts unique voice and data communication services, is an excellent example. Panzel has eight major locations in the UK, US, New Zealand, and Australia. PowerFolder is the primary way they keep folders synced between machines — not only within the data centers themselves, but across the world as well.
Panztel keeps thousands of files synced between different machines.They used another solution before, but switched to PowerFolder because it is more flexible and efficient due its peer-to-peer nature. More case studies can be found at our homepage.
What gave you an indication that your project was becoming successful?
The constantly increasing number of users reflect the high demand for PowerFolder. Many users report that once they begin to use PowerFolder, they no longer want to live without it, because it is so convenient.
What has been your biggest surprise?
That so many home users don’t create backups of their files! It’s extremely painful to lose years of videos, photos, and documents to a single harddisk crash. That’s one reason we added an automatic online backup to PowerFolder.
What has been your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was not to just create a innovative piece of software, but also provide the things around it: Web page, Forum, Wiki, Support, Marketing, and Sales. We always try to address user’s issues quickly. Bernhard and Florian are doing a great job here.
That all beneath the usual development challenges like release plannings, developer coordination and quality assurance. Also, big thanks go out to Harry, Dennis and Cecilia who constantly contribute to our project.
Why do you think your project has been so well received?
PowerFolder solves common problems around data management. People use it not only for file sync and backup, but widely different. And of course our Basic version is free and open source!
Where do you see your project going?
We aim to extend our services around the software. Also a server version of PowerFolder is currently in development that includes user and rights management as well as auditing features. The upcoming 3.1 adds Swarming/Multi-download feature, which greatly helps to distribute large amounts of data with PowerFolder.
What’s on your project wish list?
We want to simplify the use of PowerFolder. Every user should be able to easily manage his data with PowerFolder, even people who are not very familiar with computers.
What are you most proud of?
It’s a honor to work with such an excellent and heterogeneous team. Our core team consists of seven people, who constantly contribute to PowerFolder. About eight translators make PowerFolder speak every major language. I believe this is the critical success factor for our constant growth, which I’m also very proud of.
If you could change something about the project, what would it be?
More administration control is often requested by companies. This feature is planned with our server version of PowerFolder.
How do you coordinate the project?
Trac is our primary ticket system for project coordination. Milestone planning and developer assignments are done there. For quality assurance we run unit tests inside of Bamboo, an excellent continuous built system. In addition, we perform smoke tests with Testfuff before every release.
For internal communication we use email, IRC and meetings. We recently started using a support suite ticket system for effectively managing the communication with our users/customers.
Do you work on the project full-time, or do you have another job?
I work half-time for PowerFolder. My other job is at Riege Software International GmbH, where I work as project manager and software developer creating software for the freight forwarding industry.
What is your development environment like?
Dell Latitude D620, 2 GB RAM, Windows Vista, JDK 6.0, Eclipse
|End of 2003||Start of the PowerFolder project|
|February 2004||First alpha version (0.1a)|
|April 2004||PowerFolder reaches beta state|
|September 2004||PowerFolder joins SourceForge.net|
|May 2006||Version 1.0 of PowerFolder was released|
|January 2007||PowerFolder available as commercial Pro version|
|May 2007||Launch of the optional Online Storage service for PowerFolder|
|July 2007||PowerFolder 2.0 with Delta-sync and HTTP tunnel was released|
|March 2008||PowerFolder 3.0 eliminates a painful router/firewall setup|
|June 2008||3.1 version makes both version (Basic and Pro) freely available|
|August/September 2008||PowerFolder 4.0 featuring a new user interface|
|October 2008||PowerFolder 4.1 / Server version adding user and rights management|
How can others contribute?
As commercial open source software, we are able to pay Java developers for their work on the PowerFolder project. But we expect someone to offer a reasonable amount of his free time to the project. We don’t expect anyone to handle this project priority to private or work life, but at least a couple of hours a week should be minimum.
Check out our previous projects of the month.