You may have heard of Carbonite as a cloud backup company, a business in which it is quite successful. Carbonite Currents uses the same data-storage technology to offer a completely different service: make your desktop PC files (of any type) accessible to all your machines (laptop, tablet+ phone on Android or iOS) and even to your friends if you want to collaborate.

For mobiles, it’s pretty simple, upon installing the apps, you can choose which files will be stored locally and if you modify it, Carbonite Currents will sync it back to the other machines. This is particularly great if you tend to add changes in bits and pieces as you go. That way, it is possible to use the best possible device at any given time.If you work with others, let’s define what Carbonite Currents can, and cannot do: it is not a real-time collaboration service in which users can all modify a document at the same time, like Google Docs. What it can do, is to allow several people to access the same file (Word, Excel… any file type), and there is a built-in comment system to keep everyone posted about what’s going on, so with a bit of organization, folks can work on a turn-by-turn basis.

If for some reason many people modify the file at the same time, Carbonite Currents will detect it and save several variants of the file. That’s great because the file isn’t just overwritten by the last save. However, someone will have to merge the changes by hand. Carbonite Currents can handle complex binary files, so there’s no way that it can resolve conflicts automatically.

The development team told me that they had considered adding a “locking” mechanism (check-in/check-out), but that for the sake of simplicity, they wanted to keep the number of options down. This is arguably a good decision. I know people who have used Dropbox to do exactly that, and Carbonite Currents could handle simultaneous edits better than Dropbox, I think. If you are already using Dropbox, nothing prevents you from setting up Carbonite Current to Sync the Dropbox folder on your PC…

Finally, Carbonite Currents will save all the revisions of your files for up to 30 days. Although the goal is not to build a “backup system”, the Carbonite Currents team thought that it would be very convenient to be able to go back to a previous version in case something bad happen. This is a feature that sets it apart from other cloud storage places.

Carbonite Currents  is going to start as a free service, and paid upgrades will be added at some point in time. From what I understand, the current level of service should remain free for the foreseeable future.

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