Novell Filr 1.0 tested

Cloudy with a Chance of File Servers

Communication and Collaboration

The Novell developers have also implemented a full set of collaboration features. For example, the owner of a folder can grant other users access rights to files for a folder (Contributors) and configure email alerts if there is activity in that folder. In the message area, Filr then automatically creates a link to this folder and automatically adds all users who own files in that folder to the distribution list.

Users can also subscribe to folders or files themselves. Filr notifies them of changes to a folder by email. To allow this to happen, the user needs to select Subscribe in the context menu to the right of the folder or file and then choose the message type. The options are Digest , Message only , Message with Attachments , and Text Message . Note that Digest is only available when subscribing to a folder.

The Digest setting tells Filr to send a message with a summary of all the activities in the folders and subfolders. The easiest way to keep abreast of changes in Filr data is to look at the What's New page at the top left. The page can be filtered using the menu structure on the left (e.g., for files that have been shared with the respective user). Filr updates the news list every 60 seconds. You can also subscribe to new files from the drop-down menu to the right of each file (Figure  9).

Figure 9: Subscriptions rely on email notifications to keep the user informed of changes.

Windows Client

Access to the data managed by Filr is possible not only through the web interface but also via native clients for Android, iOS, and Windows. During the Windows client setup, the admin specifies the Filr folder to monitor: The default is C:\Users\<username>. The Filr client installs itself as a Windows systray applet with an icon in the taskbar. After logging in to the Windows computer, the Filr client launches automatically, indicating any changes, and then starts synchronization (Figure 10).

Figure 10: The Windows client applet automatically synchronizes the Filr folder.

Filr users can synchronize any time via the context menu of the applet by selecting Synchronize now . Also in the context menu – after confirming the security certificate – users can open the client interface and access, for example, the What's New or Shared by Me areas.

From here, you can open the Filr console that provides access to account information, synchronized folders, or the Recent Activity list (Figure 11).

Figure 11: The Windows client Filr Console shows information on all current activities.

Android Client

The Filr Android app is available to users via the Google Play store. However, the Filr admin must explicitly permit mobile access for the user in question. The corresponding settings are located in the Administration Console below System | Mobile Applications . You can explicitly control whether the app is allowed to access Filr, whether files can be downloaded from within the app, and whether the app can interact with other applications. This setting is essential for editing files offline. Furthermore, you can set the synchronization interval.

Of course, the mobile Filr app uses encryption – just like the web application. All communication is handled via SSL. If the Filr admin allows file downloads, the user should also configure file encryption on the mobile device to prevent the loss of sensitive data (e.g., in case of a stolen smartphone). This procedure depends on the particular smartphone, but the starting point is usually Settings | System Security . The user must take care to set up data encryption for both the internal memory of the smartphone and the SD card, because the Filr app always saves downloaded files on the SD card.

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