Gbridge: access remote PCs easily

Gbridge is a free software that can connect multiple computers. It forms a VPN between multiple computers and provides remote computer access, folder synchronization, automatic folder backup, remote computer control and/or screen sharing, and chat. Gbridge can use Google’s Gtalk network to connect remote PCs and requires Gtalk (Gmail) accounts.

There has been a proliferation of free tools and protocols that aim to provide various remote connection services (e.g. Crossloop, Mikogo to name but two). These services will require the installation of some sort of desktop client locally and many will require the creation of user accounts in order to access a centralized network used for the connection. With the various protocols that these tools use, it may or may not be possible to connect in different settings depending on whether the different computers are behind firewalls, behind routers (whether or they have a public IP), and whether the tool/service offers a centralized network on their own servers.

What is noteworthy about Gbridge is that it will try multiple ways to connect based on what will result in the best performance, but the lowest common denominator (if you will) will be connecting through the Gtalk network (a Gtalk/Gmail account is a requirement to use the service). Here are more notes on this software:

  • You WILL be able to connect: Gbride will automatically figure out the best way to connect the various computers to provide maximum throughput and privacy; it will attempt to create a tunnel through NAT or firewall or if that is not possible it will connect through the Gtalk network. The user does not have to worry about complex technical configurations and the likelihood that you will achieve connectivity is high no matter what context your PC lives in; Gbridge, to quote their site “solves the real world naming and connectivity issues for almost all networks”.
  • VPN for non-experts: see point above. Gbridge will allow any user to install, logon, and be on their way.
  • Highly versatile: you can control which folders to share with which of your contacts and which users to require password authentication to access your shared folders, etc. You can also share an unlimited number of files, folders, and – interestingly – unlimited file size (I read somewhere about successfully sharing a 5 gig file).
  • Wide range of services: will try to keep up with the terminology here. Share a file or folder with yourself or others (Secureshare), synchronize folders automatically across computers (AutoSync), backup files across computers (EasyBackup), view the screen and/or access remote computers (DesktopShare), chat with friends (Chat). Gbridge automatically generates thumbnails for media files, and allows for media streaming of shared media files without downloading first (LiveBrowse); also offers the ability to run 3rd party applications (e.g. FTP) over the VPN.
  • Performance: is generally very good, but will vary depending on the different settings that the computers live in and how they are connected, except there is the underlying promise that Gbridge will find the best possible connection where performance is concerned. I experienced the same lag when controlling a remote desktop that I saw with other free tools, but overall Gbridge was very competent and delivered what it promised. MP3 streaming worked exceptionally well.
  • Security: Gbridge is not a Google product. The Gbridge app will request your Gtalk/Gmail account info, but Gbridge claims that it is never sent to the Gbridge server but sent in encrypted form to the Google Gtalk server; they also suggest to create a new Gmail account for use with Gbridge if you still have security concerns. See “Security” section below for more info. All data exchanges are purported to be AES encrypted.Gbridge: browsing shared media files
  • The user interface: this is one area that could be a bit more intuitive, as I found it at times difficult to figure out what I needed to do to get access some of the functions. On the other hand browsing shared files/folders through the browser is cool because, as mentioned above, Gbridge offers media thumbnails and media streaming (see image to the right). Folder/file sharing can be set up using drag and drop, which is cool.
  • Connecting two of your own computers: log into Gbridge using the same account on multiple computers and you will be able to access them from either end. This will circumvent some of the complexities of having to set up shared files/folders or grant desktopshare access, etc. (Note: this is not the same as being logged into your Gmail account).

Wish list (or how this software can be even better)

  • Better UI design: with all the great functions they have managed to offer they really should aim for better usability. You will figure out how to do what you need to do after a bit of tinkering around, but it could be better streamlined and more intuitivie.
  • Better two-way folder synchronization: while synching one way seems to work just fine, two way synching is not does not seem to be on offer, and requires some user intervention (note: this is an issue that I came across while researching this app and did not see it personally).

The verdict: I really like this for some good reasons, I think. (a) because it will probably connect reliably where other similar free services might not, (b) because it is designed to be easy to use, and (c) because it offers a complete, wide set of functions that are on average more than the other free tools have to offer (in fact the only function I can think of which it doesn’t offer is VOIP, and I’m not sure I would want that on top of all the other functions anyway). I also think that (d) it offers good performance overall, which may be the most important aspect of a program like this. Overall I recommend it highly.

Version Tested: 1.0.0.1111

Compatibility: Windows 2000, XP, or Vista(x32), and a Gmail account.

Go to Gbridge home page to download the latest version (approx 2 megs).


 
 
 
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Sep 18, 2008
Samer Kurdi
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  • http://www.codoxide.com Sameera

    I’m a big fan of mRemote
    http://www.mremote.org/

    Free and open source.

  • ayo

    Gbridge is amazing! Thanks the author a lot for introducing this cool software! It is small (only 2M) and surprisingly powerful. Now I can freely share and sync folders among my computers. I also plan to setup some syncs with my buddies to exchange our media collections. I figured out that gbridge support window remote desktop too, which is much faster than VNC. Interestingly gbridge even comes with a share sample that includes a cool supernova explosion short video!

    BTW, the author may want to change the Gbridge home page link to http://www.gbridge.com/ (i.e. remove the ?by= part) I guess I almost sent an invitation to you during installation:-)

  • Albert

    Thanks for putting this software up to our attention.

    I was using Hamachi for VPN needs. Although I only needed to proxy via a vpn connection to access intranet for work, Hamachi’s relay is slower than telephone dialup.

    Will be trying this for as a vpn proxy purpose too. Hope I can get some work done during the weekends…

    Thanks again.

  • blogward

    No joy here – and no help either. For some reason GBridge wouldn’t login to any of my Gmail accounts. Three strikes and out. TeamViewer does it for me anyway.

  • http://www.Rarst.net Rarst

    There are indeed lots of such solutions appearing lately. Somehow I am not really convinced – I always preffered software to service. It’s like more focused approach and there is no 3rd party involved.

  • skyhawk

    It works like a charm for me. I also used teamviewer (which is not completely free, btw) and Gbridge offers much more (for free), especially the folder sync and live browsing features.

  • Samer

    @Rarst,
    Software requires a higher level of user expertise than services to set up. I have also found services much more reliable in terms of being able to connect from my work and/or various other places.

    @Skyhawk
    Thanks for stating that TeamViewer is not free. When I first used it (about a year ago) I realized that the service stops functioning after a certain time had passed, requiring you to pay or wait. This prompted me to uninstall it immediately (and cancel my planned review of it).

    However, everyone keeps praising it like its the best thing since sliced bread. My guess: they don’t actually use it, or only use it for a short time.

  • skyhawk

    @blogward

    Are you from Germany or UK? I just saw a thread on Gbridge forum discussing this authentication issue. All the complains were from Germeny or UK. They suspect that the user credential created in some countries may not be promptly propagated to the Gtalk servers that are used by Gbridge.

    see this:
    http://www.gbridge.com/forum/showthread.php?p=97#post97

  • doublehelix

    Works great for me! I was using synctoy to backing up my photo collections between two computers, it was so slow (when it prepare the folders to sync even I have only several photos added) and had to be done manually. Now with gbridge, it syncs them up really fast and in the background!

  • http://www.Rarst.net Rarst

    @Samer

    >Software requires a higher level of user expertise than services to set up

    Depends on what you are trying to do. :) Setting small http server to serve files is one thing, constructing private p2p network is another.

    And services are mostly business. That means they have to use some monetizing model sooner or later which often ends up as limitations for free version. There is also possibility of service shutting down.

    In the end most tasks have best fitting tools be it software or service. Problem is finding right solution every time. :)

  • blogward

    I’ve been using TeamViewer in the UK since Feb 2007 with no nagware issues whatsoever. I did wonder if GBridge had some sort of US GMail dependency going on.

  • blogward

    And btw, TeamViewer offers desktop share w/o having to own XP Pro or use Windows RDP. YMMV.

  • ayo

    >And btw, TeamViewer offers desktop share w/o >having to own XP Pro or use Windows RDP. YMMV.

    Gbridge has built-in VNC, so I think it doesn’t rely on Window RDP either. I can remote control my XP Home without any issue. Having said that, I still prefer using Gbridge RDP (Microsoft Windows remote desktop) to control my XP pro through Gbridge, since the response time is so amazing. Sometime even let me wonder if it is really a remote session or not.

  • ventura

    Anybody tried to share the desktop to “friends”? It is interesting, since NO password is required!! You just send an invitation to your friend and you are connected. I have invited 2 friends to share my desktop. The VNC is a bit slow and I wish RDP can support multiple friends sharing..

  • kartal

    I do not understand point of using gtalk as backend. I like the idea about I would not use anything that relies on google really. I personally might consider if they can implement a real jabber protocol.

  • Fred Thompson

    I use TeamViewer and ShowMyPC. TeamViewer has some quirks but the password format is nicer than ShowMyPC. Both have file transfer but it is slow. UltraVNC code is used in many, many desktop sharing applicatons but there is no simple way to make a proper point-to-point connection that is easy to install. The problem with Himachi, etc. is they route the data. TANSTAAFL so you are giving them your data. Windows RDP is much faster because it sends the GUI primitive commands, not a compressed screen update. I don’t like Gbridge because I hate anything that requires me to rely on an outside service. It is interesting that they have Windows RDP since that is only available through Windows Server. I wonder how they are doing this.

  • Fred Thompson

    I am also not fond of Google. They give “free” software for which you give them all the content you create with it. Picasa, Chrome, etc. are like this. That is for Communist China, not me.

  • JC

    Thanks for stating that TeamViewer is not free.

    TeamViewer *is* free (as in beer) for non-commercial use.

    When I first used it (about a year ago) I realized that the service stops functioning after a certain time had passed, requiring you to pay or wait.

    I’ve never ran into this. If it did it in the past, I must have missed it. I’ve used it for hours at a time in the last few months; I’ve just left it connected and come back after a (long) while, too. You can even use the tools at the top to reboot the machine and get back into it with the same id/password as before the reboot, without manual intervention on the other end. This is just by using the “client module”: I’m sure the installable version has the same ability and more.

    This prompted me to uninstall it immediately (and cancel my planned review of it).

    You might want to have another look at it. There are no timeouts now, just a notice when you exit reminding you that it’s not for commercial use. It’s much better than CrossLoop, IMNHO.

    However, everyone keeps praising it like its the best thing since sliced bread. My guess: they don’t actually use it, or only use it for a short time.

    I’ve used it quite a bit. I’m not doubting what you say is true about the problems you experienced, but apparently things have changed since you last tried it.

    Thanks for all the effort you put into this site!

    –JC

  • blogward

    Good post JC

  • vaanika21

    i likit ineed open tahnks

  • blogward

    GBridge is now fixed for the UK (and Europe, presumably). Good job – but that interface!

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  • Robert

    Good tool for personal use. However, for professional use I would recommend Techinline Remote Desktop:
    http://www.techinline.com

  • ayo

    @blogward

    It is not completely fixed yet. According to its forum, Gbridge is still confused by @googlemail (Germany/UK accounts) and @gmail somewhere.

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  • jellywobbles

    Your review said “Gbridge is not a Google product. The Gbridge app will request your Gtalk/Gmail account info, but Gbridge claims that it is never sent to the Gbridge server… ”

    Oh yeah! Believe that & you’ll believe anything!

    Not for me .. I value my privacy too much, and will stick with TeamViewer (FREE) which IMHO is the “dogs b*llox”. No need to give TeamViewer my Gmail account info!

    Thanks Samer .. GREAT SITE!

  • ayo

    @jellywobbles

    FYI, You can register a free google account for Gbridge purpose only, if you don’t want to use your primary one. Cannot think TeamViewer is any better in privacy aspect then.

    @blogward

    According to its forum, Gbridge released a fix for Germany/UK googlemail users.

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  • jellywobbles

    @ayo .. you missed my point .. I DONT want to register an email account just to use Gbridge!

    Teamviewer works 100% OK; its fast & free & they dont have my e-mail addy! If it aint broke .. dont fix it! ;)

    Cheers

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  • Jeff Roselli

    Program works great however it kills the network printer on vista machine.

    Thought you all should know about that…

  • Tom Wilson

    I did try GBridge, and while it works well, the desktop sharing is pretty slow. So I went back to using LogMeIn for desktop sharing.

    LogMeIn has a paid version and a free (as in beer) version. The commercial products – including a very nice helpdesk product – subsidizes the free accounts.

    I set up the service on all of my computers (including a Mac Mini), and “it just works.” The only downside is that the free version doesn’t do file transfer, but you can do what I did and leave GBridge installed as well, using LogMeIn for remote desktop and GBridge for file transfer.

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  • Bill Chalmers

    Teamviewer is not free, depending on the type of OS on the machines you connect to, if you connect to a lot of servers then eventually (as in my case) you are allowed a 5 minute connection at a time only, I am gonna try gbridge.

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  • http://www.proxynetworks.com remote pc access software

    Hi, never seen this tool…

    “Gbridge is a free software that can connect multiple computers.” – and for different OS? Between MAC and Linux or Windows….
    Thanks

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  • oddaljen

    It seems that gbridg wil come to an end of his life-cycle. Domain gbridge.com is for sale!?!

    Check it out here http://whois.domaintools.com/

  • Aaron

    Instead of freeware that accesses all your user information, you might want to try appliance based web collaborations devices. Some like the appliances from http://www.rhubcom.com require only about 30 minutes to install & to start using.

  • Aaron

    Instead of freeware that accesses all your user information, you might want to try appliance based web collaborations devices. Some like the appliances from http://www.rhubcom.com require only about 30 minutes to install & to start using.

  • jen

    I’ve never heard of GBridge but I use Teamviewer to connect and I like it. For business use I like ScreenConnect- it is a clean product and very small install.\

    http://www.screenconnect.com/
    http://www.teamviewer.com/