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Thu Apr 6, 2006 - 3:44 PM EDT - By Harv Laser

One Program � Two Purposes

Avvenu is a two-pronged service. As the account owner (user name and password to log you in, and you can do that from any other net-connected computer OR with your Treo from anywhere) you have access to every drive, folder, and data file of any kind on your host computer. You don’t have to upload anything anywhere. You don’t have to put your files on a hosting service, or FTP them into your personal Web space, or pay anyone a cent for hosting fees. Your computer running the Avvenu client IS the host computer.

Wherever you are, open a Browser and go to http://share.avvenu.com. Login with your name and password. You’ll see your computer’s name and its drives as familiar graphics in your Browser. Magic! Navigate down to the file(s) you need; they’re displayed 15 at a time, as either thumbnails with recognizable icons, or in a “detail” list format, again, 15 at a time. You can [next] your way down through a directory or go [up] or [back] levels all the way to your desktop, go into a different drive, however many you have – internal, external, even any removable media that’s on your computer. Find the file(s) you need, and just download them to whatever computer you’re using.

If you do this on your Treo, Avvenu politely displays your host computers’ drives, folders, and files in a format that fits the Treo's smaller screen with exactly the same functionality. You need install NOTHING on your Treo, as long as it has programs that know what to DO with those files (for instance, you’ll need something like Documents To Go to make use of a Word .doc or .ppt file) you’re in business. The files don’t stream to your remote machine, they download to it, so make sure you have enough storage space, either internal or an SD card, to hold them.

Avvenu serves your files to you at whatever the upload speed of your home computer running the Avvenu client is. If your host computer’s on cable, typically its upload speed is about 1/10th of its download speed, and file-grabbing speed will vary depending on the quality of your Treo’s connection. A 700w on Verizon’s EVDO network will obviously receive files a lot faster than a 650 on a “normal” cell connection. Stick a WiFi card into your 650 and use a hotspot if you want to kick butt.

If you need an entire folder full of files, you don’t have to tediously download them one at a time. Avvenu will pack an entire folder into a .Zip file, serve it to you and then delete the .Zip off your host computer after the transfer finishes.

Sharing Your Files

Avvenu’s other purpose is to share selected files directly from your computer with your friends, family, or co-workers. To do this, you browse and log into your Avvenu account, select the folders or individual files you want to share, feed it the email address(es) of whomever you want to share with, and for how long you want that share to stay active: one day to a full year. Add a personal message if you wish, and mash the [share now] button. Whoever you shared with will get an email that tells them you’re sharing files and they simply click on a special link that opens their browser and shows them ONLY the folders or files you want them to have. If they can’t handle HTML email, there’s even a text link they can cut and paste into their browser.

Any folder’s sub-folders are automatically shared, so move your files around if you don’t want to allow that. The person with whom you’re sharing files can’t go UP any levels of directories higher than the highest folder you’ve shared with them. For instance, they can’t see your desktop and all your drives if you only give them access to “my documents/my pictures/joes_birthday.” And they can’t upload anything to your computer, only download from it, which prevents anyone from putting anything malicious on your machine.

If you shut your computer down, turn off the Avvenu client, or reboot, your sharing partner will get an error message that says your computer’s offline, so you should tell them to just click that email link again later. The sharing message box is the perfect place to explain this.

If you decide you really didn’t want to share that folder or those files for a week or a month or a year, you can modify or cancel the share with Avvenu’s “track sharing” tab in your browser.


Whether you’re logged in and using Avvenu to get your own files, or sharing files with others, it’ll only display 15 folders or files (in alphabetical order) at a time. This is hard-coded and can’t be changed. In a directory that could have hundreds or thousands of files in it, it gets tedious having to click next next next over and over to drill down through a huge pile of files. Avvenu should change this and allow you to set and see a much bigger number of files at a time, (like the way eBay lets you see a short or long list of seller’s auctions).. although if you’ve installed Google’s desktop search engine, you can search for files, but that’s only useful if you know a full or partial filename to search for.

You can share with multiple people simultaneously, but this can put quite a load on your computer’s resources if a few people are sucking files from you at once, and Avvenu gives you NO visual indication of any kind that anyone is logged in and taking shared files. The only way you know something is going on is seeing your hard drive light blipping, and this isn’t enough. I want to know who is taking what files and when they’re doing it. Although Avvenu builds log files of all its activity, you can’t view them while sharing is going on and even though they’re plain text, they’re confusing to decipher. They should provide a more elegant, real-time method of displaying the logs: “So and so is logged in and downloading this or that file or folder.” The information is all there in the logs, but Avvenu simply doesn’t display it when you need to see it. Yet.

The Future

Avvenu’s currently a totally free service but they have big enhancement plans.

Next on their hit parade is the ability to sync your files with their servers, turn your computer OFF, and still be able to get or share your files securely from their disk arrays, rather than directly from your computer running their client. The free Avvenu service will carry on, but the server-cached files will be a tiered for-pay feature, and the cost will depend on how much data you want to store with them, so this will be useful if you’re leery of taking a trip and leaving your home computer powered on, or if you don’t want to leave the Avvenu client running all the time, as it does use up considerable CPU if you have a lot of shares happening at once.

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