GigaTribe delivers secure file sharing

Software lets you create a social network of trusted members

Social-networking sites are starting to feel like an insatiable maw that demands to be fed with the krill of your information. Share your photos, your files, your status, your cell phone videos. How are you feeling? How is the new baby/cat/job? Can you answer my 75-item list of random personal questions? It's amazing we get any real work done at all.


GigaTribe Ultimate

Pros: Fast, secure file sharing that also offers best features of social networking.
Cons: Password set-up was so sensitive it required several e-mails to the help desk.

Performance: A
Features: A
Value: A
Ease of use: B+
$29.95 per year

Editor's Note: GCN readers can activate a special promo code when they download GigaTribe Ultimate between Feb. 25 and April 25. This entitles them to three months free GigaTribe Ultimate access, a $15 value. Enter code P3MGCN at www.gigatribe.com/p3m/gcnews.

Wouldn't it be nice if you could back away from all the crowds and share files with a small, select group of like-minded colleagues and friends? A tribe, if you will. You decide who to invite and what to share.

If you feel that way, GigaTribe might be just the thing. It's an intriguing combination of file sharing and social networking that lets you securely swap files, music, folders, spreadsheets and video with a select "tribe" of your friends, family and coworkers.

I downloaded the software from www.gigatribe.com on a Dell Optiplex GX280 with a 3.20-GHz Intel CPU running Windows XP and installed it in less than a minute. I had a little trouble with the review password GigaTribe sent me. The application kept saying there was another user with the same name. It took a couple of help e-mails to get it straightened out, but GigaTribe eventually let me in.

First I had to decide what files I wanted to share with my tribal associates. I picked the My Pictures folder on my PC, 20M worth of photos collected over the years for stories, reviews and projects. Transferring these 132 photos from my computer to my GigaTribe account was a breeze, taking less than a minute. There appears to be little or no limits on file sizes.

The GigaTribe dashboard showed a little diagram of my computer. By clicking "share folder," you can choose to share all or parts of folders. You can even choose "unshare folders" if you've given out too much information and have had second thoughts. You set how you want it shared, too, such as whether members can have write or read-only access to your files.

Your elite inner circle of the worthy few — or the worthy many; you can have up to 999 people in your tribe — are initiated via e-mail request. People joining your tribe have to download the free copy of GigaTribe, but they don’t have to buy anything.

Once the person accepts your invitation, his name will appear under a list of users. When he is online, his name will appear in bold black, and you can engage in chat, if you so wish. Now you can also see the files and folders he has shared with you and vice versa.

The first person I invited then invited me to join his tribe. GigaTribe sent me a notice with three options:

1. Accept: I can share folders with him and he with me.

2. Refuse: I can't share folders but he can ask me again later.

3. Banish: He won't be able to share folders with me and all further requests will be ignored.

I hit "accept," and I was on my way to establishing my very own tribe. You can also access your files over a secured Web site, called a private area, sort of a personal VPN.

One feature I really liked was that GigaTribe notified me in a very subtle way which specific files my tribe members had downloaded. A small image of the files appeared under their names.

Currently GigaTribe claims a million users but I wouldn't be surprised if a quite a few more wanted to join the clan. I know that when I telecommute, I invariably leave a file or two behind on my office PC such that I can't access them from home. GigaTribe would be a great way to access those random files remotely.

GigaTribe could help you develop what Kurt Vonnegut described in "Cat's Cradle" as a "karass," a spontaneously formed group joined by unpredictable links that gets the real work done in an organization. Small businesses or anyone who needs to share a lot of data securely with a trusted few would find GigaTribe a useful addition to their karass.

GigaTribe, 011-33-14697-2533, www.gigatribe.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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