We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Software Reviews
15,669 Reviews



Manufacturer: OnShare

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

OnShare is different from other P2P networks. It doesn't set out to share files with the entire online community, but is designed to keep private files between selected friends.

Despite the scare stories about sharing copyrighted files, P2P (peer-to-peer) filesharing has never been more popular. Indeed, OnShare expects filesharing to constitute 65 percent of all web traffic in 2007. OnShare is different from other P2P networks. Crucially, it doesn't set out to share files with the entire online community, but is designed to keep private files between selected friends.

Can you keep a secret?

When you set up the software you can invite friends to join OnShare. They'll have to download and install the 8MB application to a PC, since the software isn't Mac-compatible. The invitation process is cumbersome, but full instructions are provided.

OnShare sits at what's known as the 'namespace' level of Windows. This approach is virtually unique for a third-party application and OnShare is the only filesharing program to use it. This method means that OnShare becomes, in effect, part of the OS (operating system). When you open My Computer, OnShare is recognised as another drive – so when you access shared files it's as if you're viewing them on an attached storage device.

The other benefit of this method is that it makes the software identical in use to Windows, so it's simple to view, copy and edit files in the way you would within the OS. Indeed, the manufacturer claims that you could easily operate the software from within Windows and ditch the interface entirely, if you so wish.

This might not be a bad idea, given that when we installed it on our test PC the OnShare window failed to display correctly. Menu titles were running off the side of the window, with no option to resize them.

Because OnShare's means of sharing files is done in the style of a VPN (virtual private network), you're more secure from attacks by viruses and bugs. And OnShare doesn't hold files on a server. They reside on the original PC throughout, so there's no chance of them being accessed from a central point. This has the added advantage that it requires no desktop reorganisation to share your files.

Armoured encryption

OnShare, which has its roots in military software, takes security seriously. Every single file is protected using 2Kb encryption technology. This means that ISPs cannot detect the fact that you're using P2P filesharing, so they are unlikely to act to prevent it. And OnShare will avoid firewalls, too, so there's no need to configure software to get around them.

At first we found the software slightly counterintuitive to use, although there's plenty of help provided. It was pretty slow when it came to sharing large files, too. OnShare offers a secure chat feature, which isn't as user-friendly as other, similar tools, crashing a friend's PC when we used it. But once you're up and running, it's easy to share files from within Windows. Simply right-click and choose the OnShare icon and files are immediately available to your friends. Conveniently, you can unshare any file with any friend from within the OnShare application.

OnShare Expert Verdict »

For Windows 98/Me: 400MHz Pentium II
25MB hard disk space. For Windows 2000/XP: 750MHz Pentium III
25MB free hard disk space
  • Ease of Use: We give this item 7 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 9 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 10 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

This is a boon for serious P2P filesharing fans. OnShare allows you to share any type of file in complete secrecy, but whether it will have mass appeal is yet to be seen. It's free, so there's no reason not to try it, although we found it a little flaky. Online alternatives such as Flickr might be more the ticket for occasional users.

  • Cabos review


    Cabos is a useful, simple file-sharing program.

  • QNAP TS-419P II review

    QNAP TS-419P II

    QNAP's latest four-bay NAS drive is the QNAP TS-419P II, a sturdy metal unit with powerful software features and a 2.0GHz ARM processor.

  • CyberLink Live beta media-sharing software

    CyberLink Live beta media-sharing software

    Wireless networking and updates to Microsoft's media player mean that sharing photos, videos and TV around the home is becoming simpler than ever. CyberLink Live takes this a step further by making it possible to share these media from any computer via the internet.

  • X-oom Internet Movies 3.0: YouTube Edition video-management software

    X-oom Internet Movies 3.0: YouTube Edition video-management software

    Video-sharing sites are certainly getting their five minutes of fame at the moment, and German software manufacturer X-oom is cashing in on this with X-oom Internet Movies 3.0: YouTube Edition.

  • Preview: Qtrax.com music-sharing site

    Preview: Qtrax.com music-sharing site

    Qtrax.com claims to let users tap into file-sharing networks and search for music, which could then be stored indefinitely on PCs and transferred to music players.

IDG UK Sites

Best camera phone of 2015: iPhone 6 Plus vs LG G4 vs Galaxy S6 vs One M9 vs Nexus 6

IDG UK Sites

In defence of BlackBerrys

IDG UK Sites

Why we should reserve judgement on Apple ditching Helvetica in OS X/iOS for the Apple Watch's San...

IDG UK Sites

Retina 3.3GHz iMac 27in preview: Apple cuts £400 of price of Retina iMac with new model