Foldershare is an invaluable free service from Microsoft for sharing files and folders among several computers, keeping the folders in sync with each other automatically. Although the concept is simple, it’s a bit confusing to get started; once you get it, it becomes an invaluable tool. Here’s some background and my best effort at explaining what Foldershare can do.

The service has been completely down or working slowly at best since early this week and the outages are ongoing – not everyone is affected but many people are unable to connect to the service or use it to transfer files. My Foldershare icon has shown “Logging in . . .” since Wednesday.

Microsoft acquired Foldershare a couple of years ago and it has basically been left unchanged since then, for better or for worse. Since the acquisition, the responsible team has mostly been silent about Microsoft’s commitment to the service. This outage has Foldershare users rattled.

A Microsoft rep posted a comment on the Foldershare support forum today that sounds reassuring but is remarkably vague about details. Here’s his statement in its entirety.

Dear FolderShare Community

On behalf of all of the folks at Microsoft who work on FolderShare, we want to apologize for the problems many of you have been facing with the service over the past several days. I can’t live without the service, myself — and understand how difficult it can be when things don’t work properly. In the spirit of being open with the community, we want to fill you in one what’s going on with FolderShare.

First, I want to stress that we care about FolderShare and Microsoft is committed to supporting FolderShare, fixing the current problems, and making significant improvements in the months ahead.

We’re hard at work on improvements to the service, including some great new UI enhancements you can expect to see in the coming months that we think you’re going to love.

In the meantime, however, we’ve been facing some challenges as we begin to transition the platform behind the service from the original code FolderShare ran on when we first acquired it to a more robust offering. And unfortunately many of you have been feeling some of these pains first hand.

Specifically, some recent hardware failures caused a chain of events that have caused connection issues for many over the last week or so. We are working hard to address these problems and expect things to be functioning properly again in the coming days. And longer term, you can rest assured that we are also making significant investments in our architecture and platform to fix these issues for the long term and to prepare the service for the future.

In the weeks ahead, it is possible that there may be a few additional bumps on the road as we get to a more stable situation. I can personally assure you that we are taking this very seriously and will be in communication throughout to help prepare you for any issues before they happen whenever possible.

Again, we apologize for the recent problems and appreciate your patience as we fix these and get the service ready for great things ahead. Please bear with us. We believe it will be worth your while.

Thank-you

Mohammed and the FolderShare Team

UPDATE 11/19: The FolderShare team says the service was fully up and running late Sunday night after a migration to big new servers. There’s hints that there will be a major upgrade to the service before too long, but no details about what to expect.