Software developer Z Group has launched a public beta version of OnShare, a free and secure peer-to-peer file sharing service.
OnShare consists of a client application on a PC, and a secure web service that enables its users to share files and documents over a VPN-like direct connection.
The 'giving' user has to choose what files they want to share, and with whom, via a Friends list similar to those in instant messaging programmes. The 'receiving' user gets read-only access to the files that their friend has chosen to give them access to.
A nifty feature is the ability to share files with yourself, which allows any user to log onto their own computer from other locations and access the entire contents of their hard drive.
All traffic is 2,048-bit encrypted and uses a proprietary technique to conceal transfers in normal http packets, meaning the standard http port 80 can be used to bypass firewall configurations. OnShare also gets around common methods used by ISPs to control or block peer-to-peer traffic.
OnShare integrates into Windows' interface menus for easy sharing of files, folders or drives. Secure live chat between friends is also included.
At the moment, there is no charge for the service. OnShare said that a premium, paid-for version would appear in the future, but that the free version would remain available. Unlimited transfers will cost around £2 per month. Anna Lagerkvist