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How To Share Files, Snapchat-Style

Disappearing file sharing is just the latest trick from Younity, a company that’s trying to unite the hard drives of all your disparate devices.

How To Share Files, Snapchat-Style
[Image: Flickr user Jamie Taylor]

On Wednesday, a company called Younity released the beta version of something called Ephemeral File Sharing–think Snapchat for files. Users can share files with a self-destruct timer to a list of friends, with options to share read-only versions. The default timer expires after seven days, but files can be unshared at any time.

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Younity serves a larger purpose: uniting all your hard drives. It’s a problem made widespread by the adoption of mobile devices: When working with platforms that obscure the file system, or aren’t connected to the other file systems in your life (such as your computer), how do you go about sharing and keeping track of them? As we’ve written about before, Younity uses a patented “ubiquitous data protocol” to create a personal network that allows you to access and share files across devices without syncing. The goal: give you access to all your files on every device, everywhere, over the air–whether or not those devices are powered on.

Essential to Younity’s approach is the file overload that can occur when data is used and shared across many devices. When you can’t really dive into the file system of a particular device without significant workarounds, multiple copies of a file can stack up needlessly, and obsolete documents sit there taking up what is often very limited storage space. Younity’s proprietary protocol exists primarily to trim bloat by removing a file’s specific location from the equation entirely.

Philosophically speaking, the Younity approach is markedly different from Google Drive and Dropbox, which are incentivized to make you grow your data pile as fast and big as possible. But since Younity isn’t a cloud data provider–just a file management architecture–the company is focused on letting users get more out of the limited space they have. Perhaps hard drive space will someday be so absurdly cheap that deleting files will feel like an anachronism–til then, we like Younity’s solution.

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