Starting today, I'll try to write about some of the tools we use at longaccess, with the hope that our experience may be of use to other startups too. I can't make any promises that this will be a regular thing, but expect to see more every now and then.
One of the first problems we faced, as any small team of three or more will, was file sharing: How does the team share files in an easy, efficient and cost effective way? How are these files made available on our laptops (we bring our own laptops at work) and our home computers when we want to work from home?
Some will suggest setting up a local NAS or small file server, others would go with Dropbox or Box.
While all of the above are great, we decided to go with BitTorrent Sync.
I downloaded the BitTorrent Sync client (available versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, and various NAS devices, as well as Android and iOS) on my laptop and shared the local folder I had the designs for our new site. Then, I copied the read-write key for this share and emailed it to the rest of the team. All they had to do was download the client too and add my shared folder's key: my files were on their computers too and when one of us adds, deletes or updates files in it, the changes show up almost immediately to the rest.
We haven't had any problems so far. Files sync immediately and fast. And it's 100% free, no matter the size or the number of the files.
One thing to keep in mind when using BitTorrent Sync is that, unlike services like Dropbox and Box, there is no central server on the cloud holding your files: The files are synced between your computers.
In some cases, this may lead to some problems. A simplified example: if Nikos modifies a file while I'm not at the office and my laptop is in my bag, I will not get his changes. If I get at the office after he has left, and I turn on my laptop, I will not find his to sync the file modifications.
A frequently suggested solution is to set up a Linux server somewhere on the cloud with BitTorent Sync and use it as the always-on-always-synced node. But we didn't want to have to take care of one more server.
The solution we ended up with was much simpler: We installed BitTorrent sync on some of our home computers who are always on and always connected. Now we always have not one, but a couple nodes with the latest versions of our files ready to sync. An additional benefit of this solution is that our files are backed up with the rest of my files at home on my home TimeCapsule -an extra backup at no extra cost or effort is a nice thing to have.
As a small team of four, we have found BitTorent Sync to be a valuable tool for our internal file sharing needs -you should probably give it a try too.