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Gbridge FAQs

Security and Privacy Friends and Computers SecureShare AutoSync EasyBackup DesktopShare and Remote Desktop Network status and Activity log Gbridge is a VPN infrastructure

Q: Why do I need a Gmail account to use Gbridge?
A: Gbridge is a great extension of the Google network service. It is tightly integrated with Google Gtalk server authentication. So you would need a Gmail account to log into the Google network service to use Gbridge. All the Gbridge network traffics are encrypted when passing through Gtalk server, therefore your privacy is still protected. Once you log into Google network service, you will be able to see the list of your existing Gmail friends on the Friends tab of the Gbridge main window. Please note that Gbridge is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Google Inc.

Q: Will my Gmail username and password be transmitted to Gbridge LLC?
A: ABSOLUTELY NO. The username and password you provide are only sent to Google's Gtalk service server to authenticate your account. All the communications are encrypted and are secure. Neither your username nor your password will ever be sent to Gbridge LLC. Please note that Gbridge is in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Google Inc.

Q: What if I don't want to use my current Gmail username and password?
A: You can always register a new Gmail user account, which is free, and use that for Gbridge purpose only. The downside is that you would not be able to see your existing Gmail friends in Gbridge.

Q: What is Hostname in the login window?
A: You need to specify a Hostname in the login window, it could be an arbitrary string (which contains only letters and digits), such as home, work, office and etc. It should have no more than 8 characters. You can change the hostname anytime when you log in. It should uniquely identify a specific computer of yours, i.e. you should assign different hostname to different computers that belong to you, but your computer and your friend's computer can have the same hostname, (just like your children should all have different first name, while your child and your friend's child can have the same first name). The hostname is part of the URL of the SecureShares on this computer. See this for detail.

Q: Does Gbridge software send back any information to Gbridge server?
A: Gbridge software will not send any of your personal information back to Gbridge server. It only needs to contact Gbridge NAT detection servers every time it starts to find out your current network environment. This would allow your friend to communicate with your computer directly when needed. During this process, Gbridge servers will know your network environment (e.g. public IP address, local IP address and NAT type), but not any other information (e.g. Google username/password, etc.). In some situations, it is impossible to establish direct connection between two computers, so the traffic has to be relayed by Gbridge relay servers. Because all traffic are encrypted, neither Gbridge nor Google has the key to decrypted them, so the communication is private and secure.

Q: Are my chat messages secure in Gbridge?
A: The chat messages are relayed through Google's Gtalk server over TLS (Transport Layer Security), so it is as secure as Gtalk. Every chat message is encrypted and authenticated. The chat messages will never be sent to Gbridge LLC.

Q: Are other network communications secure in Gbridge?
A: The SecureShare, AutoSync, EasyBackup, DesktopShare and all other network communications tunneled by Gbridge are all encrypted (AES 128bits) and authenticated (SHA1 HMAC) by session keys that are only known to your computer and the peer computer. The key establishment is done using Diffie-Hellman key exchange. The key establishment messages are over TLS and relayed by Google Gtalk server.

Q: The Gbridge SecureShare and AutoSync are using HTTP, not HTTPS. Are they secure?
A: Gbridge provides IP level security, just like other VPNs. Each individual IP packet (within the domain) is encrypted and authenticated. So all traffic, including HTTP, are secure.
Gbridge's SecureShare and AutoSync are running on HTTP over the Gbridge VPN. Note the Gbridge LiveBrowse HTTP address is only valid when you have Gbridge enabled and logged into the right account. The HTTP traffic within the domain are tunnelled and encrypted by the underneath Gbridge VPN.

Q: How to invite my friends to join my Gbridge network?
A: The first thing you might want to do after installation is to invite friends to join your Gbridge network. Gbridge window lists the contact information of your Google Gtalk network. Everyone that is already in your contact list of Gtalk client should be in your Gbridge friends list. You can always invite new friends, or invite existing friends to use Gbridge software, by using "Invite Friend" button in Gbridge application. After your friends have installed the Gbridge, you can share documents/photos with them without uploading them first to any server. You can also share files between your computers: For example to access music, which is on your computer at home, from your office computer.

Q: What is a pending friend?
A pending friend is a user who is one-step away from joining your Gbridge network, just pending his/her (not your) approval. You can remove him/her from the pending friend list anytime you want. A Gtalk/Gmail/Gbridge user becomes your pending friend after you have explicitly sent him/her a Gbridge or Gtalk invitaion. Base on some Google's internal Gmail rules, Google (NOT Gbridge) may decide to make a user as a pending friend of you if you have exchanges some emails with that user, even without an explicit invitaion from you. You can disable those rules if you want. Please note that Gbridge doesn't use or have any control over those Google internal rules. Gbridge NEVER automatically sends any invitation without your explicit instruction.

Q: What do different colors mean for the icons in my friends list?
A: Different color represents different status of a friend.
   Blue icon means your friend is currently online and running Gbridge software.
   Gray icon means the friend is currently not online with any of Gtalk clients.
   Purple icon means your friend is currently online and running client other than Gbridge (such as Gtalk or Gmail). You can chat with them.
   , or means your friend has been blocked by you on this computer, i.e. this computer is invisible to him/her and he/she cannot access features like SecureShare on this computer. To unblock your friend, click the icon and select the context menu item "Unblock".

Q: Why can't I see my friends' computers? Or what if I do not want others to see one of my computers?
A: You can see other computers in the Gbridge network only if both of the following are satisfied:
  1. The other computer have already installed Gbridge software.
  2. And the user of that computer have "unblocked" you (i.e. grant you the permission to "see" the computer.)
The access control can be configured on per user basis on every computer. So you can block other people from seeing your private computers while you can let them to see your other computers.

Q: How to chat with my friends?
A: You can chat with your friend who is using Gbridge, Gtalk, Gmail or other 3rd party Gtalk client. Click the desired people's icon and choose the chat context menu. Initial messages will be replicated to all the computers that belong to that user until that user responds from a particular computer. You can send SecureShare URL link or DesktopShare Invitation during the chat.

Q: How to share a file or directory to friends?
A: Drag and drop the file/directory to the Gbridge main window or chat window, then select which friend(s) can access this SecureShare. After the SecureShare is created, Gbridge will ask whether you want to send a notification to the friends who are allowed to access this SecureShare. You can send separate emails that include the SecureShare URL link to your friend as well. For more detail, see below.

Q: How to make a file or directory accessible from my other computers?
A: Drag and drop the file/directory to the Gbridge main window, don't select any friend if you want this SecureShare accessible by you only. After the SecureShare is created, you can access it from any computer that logs into the Gbridge network under your Gmail username and password. For more detail, see below.

Q: What is SecureShare?
A: You can share a document or a directory on your computer over Gbridge through SecureShare. All the files within a SecureShare are kept on your computer so there is no need to upload it to any server before you share it. Designated users (selected by you) can browse the files and download the files from your computer directly if they want to. You can have multiple SecureShares on each computer and each of them can be configured to have different visibility and access control to other users. You can also set a password on any SecureShare so anyone would need the extra password to access it. All SecureShares of a specific computer accessible to you would be listed under the icon that represents that computer in the Friends tab of the main window.

Q: How to create or delete a SecureShare?
A: You can manage your SecureShares in the SecureShares tab of the main window. You can press "Add SecureShare" button to create a SecureShare. Alternatively you can drag and drop a file or a directory into the Gbridge main window or chat window to share it. Either way you will be prompted to select which friends you want to share this SecureShare. Users who are not granted access won't be able to see or access the SecureShare, even if they know the URL of the SecureShare. You can specify a filename pattern to exclude some files from the SecureShare. For further protection, you can specify an optional password for the SecureShare, and tell the password to the friends who you want to grant access to. For security reason, please -NEVER- use your Gmail account password as SecureShare's password!
To delete a SecureShare, go to the SecureShare tab of the main window, select the SecureShare you want to delete in the list, then hit the "delete" key on your keyboard.

Q: How to browse a SecureShare?
A: You can access the content's of a SecureShare by clicking the computer icon or the SecureShare icon in the Friends tab of the main window. Or you can click the SecureShare URL link sent by the owner. A browser window will popup to show you the content of the SecureShare. You can choose to download within the browser or view the content online.

Q: What can I do when browsing a SecureShare?
A: Gbridge provides many unique features to make your browser experience better.
   one-click instant mp3/wma/midi play
   one-click instant flash video (flv) and wmv/asf/rm play
   instant thumbnail for image files
   one-click instant slideshow for image files
   directory statistic information (size of sub directories, file type statistic etc)
   AutoSync download this directory

Q: When I browse a SecureShare, it asks me for username/password, what should I do?
A: If the browser prompts you to input username and password for a SecureShare, it means the owner of the SecureShare has set a password for this SecureShare. Please contact the owner to get the password. You can leave the username empty. Currently Gbridge only support Basic Authentication, so although the password you typed in is encrypted on the wire, a savvy owner of the SecureShare can see the decrypted password you typed in (note that no one else can see the decrypted password). For security reason, -NEVER- type in your Gmail account password!

Q: How to download a big file or directory in a SecureShare?
A: Select the SecureShare that is already shared by your friend, use context menu to browse it. Click the AutoSync icon (top right corner) will allow you configure an AutoSync and download the big file or synchronize the directory easily in the background. See below for more detail. Alternatively you can download the file by right-clicking the link and select the corresponding context menu, just as you normally do on the Internet.

Q: What is AutoSync?
A: If you want to download a big file or download multiple files in one shot, or if you want to always get the latest copy while your friend keep adding new photos to his SecureShare, you can create an AutoSync task on this SecureShare. AutoSync operates on two objects where the SecureShare is defined as "Source" and one directory is defined as "Destination". The destination computer always tries to synchronize the contents of the "Source" SecureShare according to a predefined schedule. Source and Destination can belong to different users or the same user; Source and Destination can be on different computers or the same computer. AutoSync performs smart scan on the source directory and would only send the difference over, so it uses negligible bandwidth when the two folders are already synchronized. If AutoSync misses a scheduled synchronization due to source or destination computer being offline, it will resume the synchronization as soon as both computers are available.

Q: How to use AutoSync?
A: You can manage all your AutoSyncs in AutoSyncs tab of the main window. Before AutoSync can be created, SecureShare that acts as source must be created on the source computer. AutoSync is always configured on the destination computer and you are prompted to select which SecureShare you want to automatically synchronized with, and the frequency you want the AutoSync to happen (i.e. daily or weekly). You can monitor current AutoSync progress in the same AutoSync tab. By right clicking on individual AutoSync, you can delete/edit a specific AutoSync.

Q: How to add an AutoSync task?
A: Before you add an AutoSync task on your destination computer, a SecureShare (the source directory from which you want to sync) must be created on the source computer. If the source computer belongs to your friend, he/she must give you the permission to see the source computer and give you the permission to access the SecureShare. Currently you can only add an AutoSync task when the source computer is online. Please do the following steps on the destination computer (the computer you are working on to create an Autosync) to add an AutoSync task:
  1. In Friend tab of the main window, find the source SecureShare icon under the source computer, click it, and select menu item "AutoSync Download it". If you cannot find the source SecureShare, please make sure the source computer is online and the right source SecureShare has been created and you have been granted the permission to access it.
  2. A dialog box will popup and let you select a local directory that you want to use as the AutoSync destination. Meanwhile, a browser window will popup and it will let you browse the content of the source SecureShare. You may want to refresh (reload) the browser window if it doesn't show the content correctly.
  3. After you have selected the destination directory, the AutoSync configuration window will popup, and you can configure the file include/exclude list and set the AutoSync interval (How often should autosync try to repeat the synchronization.)
  Alternative method: When you browse a SecureShare in browser, you can always click the icon (located in the upper right corner or in the directory listing) to setup an Autosync task that syncs a sub directory of a SecureShare. You will then go through step 2 and 3.

Q: How to use AutoSync to do two-way sync?
A: Assume you want to do a two-way sync between two folder: office_folder from office machine and home_folder from home machine. You would just need to create two AutoSync tasks, one for each direction. Follow the direction to create two AutoSync tasks between these two folders (Eg, you would need to create SecureShare for both office_folder and home_folder and then add AutoSync task to synchronize these folders.) During the AutoSync setup, you would have the choice of advanced options during the "Edit AutoSync" dialog box to further fine tune the behaviour of the two-way synchronization.
You should also try to synchronize the clock on the machines involved for two way sync. Because we compare the "Last Modified Time" of the local file and remote file during the folder synchronization, unsynced clocks between different machines would cause two-way sync to make mistake in picking the latest document.

Q: How to do selective AutoSync, e.g. just sync one file in the SecureShare?
A: When you configure an AutoSync, you can specify an include-files-list and an exclude-files-list in the configure diaglog box. Every file that is in the include-list AND not in the exclude-list will be AutoSynced. The default include-list is "*", which means every file is in. The default exclude-list is "*.tmp, ~*", which means all files whose extension are "tmp" or all files whose filenames start with "~" are excluded. The include-list and exclude-list give you a very flexible way to specify which files you want to AutoSync. For example, if you want to just sync two media files, a.avi and b.avi, in a SecureShare that has many other files, you can achieve that by simply setting the include-files-list to be "a.avi, b.avi".

Q: How to monitor AutoSync status?
A: You can monitor current AutoSync progress in the the AutoSync tab of the main window. You can monitor the AutoSync progress of one of your other remote computers by right-clicking the corresponding computer icon, and select "List AutoSync Tasks...". You can even remotely manually start or stop an AutoSync.

Q: What is EasyBackup?
A: EasyBackup is a special kind of SecureShare AutoSync combination task, in which the EasyBackup is initiated on the source computer and both source and destination computers need to belong to the same Gmail account. You can use all the advantages of the AutoSyncs to quickly create backup between your computers or different disks on same computer. One limitation of the "EasyBackup" is that the destination is always under specific directory for the safety concern, i.e C:\gbridge-backup\.

Q: Can I EasyBackup my directory to one of my friend's computers?
A: No, you cannot.

Q: What is DesktopShare?
A: DesktopShare allows you to access the Windows Desktop of other computers under your account. Friends can also access desktop of each other upon invitation. Gbridge provides two kinds of DesktopShare; each has its own advantages:
  1. One way is to use the embedded VNC server/client in Gbridge. You can access your other computers from one of your computer via VNC, and you are required to provide the VNC password you set on the other computer when you enabled that feature for extra security. Between friends, the only way to share desktop is via invitation. You can send your friend an invitation to share desktop while chatting, or from friends tab in main GUI window. Invitation is one time only: After being disconnected from DesktopShare, your friend must get another invitation from you to access your desktop. No password is used in this case since you explicitly send invitation to your friend online.
  2. The other way is through Microsoft Remote Desktop Protocol. You must have Windows XP Professional or Vista Business/Ultimate to be able to access RDP and you would need to take extra steps to enable the RDP on Windows (You can follow the steps prompted by Gbridge application when explicitly enabling the RDP feature). RDP desktop share uses build-in Microsoft authentication.

Q: How to share my computer desktop with my friend?
A: You can invite other people to see and (optionally) control your desktop, for example, to help trouble shooting a problem. You can even invite multiple friends to work on your desktop together! DesktopShare invitation can be sent to a friend in chat windows or by right clicking that friend's computer icon. You can choose what your friends can do: Either only see what is on your desktop, or give them full access to mouse and keyboard. You will see a floating window when a remote connection is connected with that friend's name on it. You can choose to disconnect them at any time. They will not be able to access your computer again without another invitation from you. You always have higher priority to control your mouse and keyboard even if you give full access to your friend.

Q: How to remote-access my other computer's desktop through embedded DesktopShare (VNC)?
A: If the other computer is logged on to Gbridge network under your own account, you can just right click the desired computer icon and choose "Access my Gbridge DesktopShare." You will be prompted to provide the password that you has configured on the other computer when you enable the feature (by default it is disabled). Therefore even if someone gets physical access to one of your computers, he/she will not be able to control other computers unless he/she knows the DesktopShare password.

Q: How to remote-access my other computer's desktop through Microsoft Remote Desktop?
A: Using this method, you can only access computers under your own account. You may need to configure the target computer properly, (follow the instructions of the Gbridge) to enable RDP. You can use the target computer icon's context menu to access RDP, see Microsoft document for more details on RDP.

Q: Can my friend see my computer desktop without my invitation?
A: Absolutely no.

Q: How can I know the current active connections of Gbridge network and bandwidth usage?
A: Use the Links tab in main window to know which connections are currently active and their activities, such as connection type, upload/download speed and amount of data transferred. You can manually tear down the connection by resetting individual connections. The global flow control which applies to all the active connections, such as maximum upload speed, can be configured from Options/Network Bandwidth menus. An interesting thing in this Links tab is that you can see your real IP and virtual Gbridge IP mappings.

Q: How can I monitor who has accessed my computer through Gbridge?
A: Gbridge provides a log to record activities through Gbridge services. You can see these log items in the Log tab in Main GUI. These include RDP/VNC DesktopShare connection setup, SecureShare accesses, etc...

Q: How do I know if my Gbridge connection is good, i.e. directly connected?
A: Gbridge provides quality indication of your connection to internet. It is shown beside the Gbridge root icon in Friends tab. Three levels are shown for Excellent/Good/Fair network connectivity.

Q: Why is my Gbridge connection so slow? Or why is my Gbridge connection "relayed by Gbridge"?
A: When Gbridge can not make direct connection between two computers, all the traffic will be encrypted and relayed through Gbridge relay server, this normally happens when both parties have rather poor network connectivity. Because of the overhead of relay and bandwidth limitation of Gbridge relay servers, you may experience slow network speed and even interruptions. AutoSync is disabled on these kinds of connections. To avoid being relayed, please see the next question.

Q: How to improve my network connectivity?
A: There are several things that you can do to improve the network connectivity (similar to what you need to do to improve connectivity of traditional P2P software): change to a P2P friendly router; enable UPNP on the router; setup port forwarding on the router, etc.

Q: Can I control Gbridge network bandwidth usage?
A: Yes, the maximum upload speed can be configured from Options/Network Bandwidth menu.

Q: Can I use "Microsoft File/Printer Share" i.e. Windows share through Gbridge?
A: Yes, but only among your own computers (for security reason). Furthermore, this option is disabled by default. You can manually enable this function in Options/Advanced Options, check the "Windows share folder" checkbox. You can use Microsoft's own protected mechanism to protect the content of the windows directories (i.e. password or access control). Your friends can never access your Windows share through Gbridge.

Q: Does Gbridge allow other network applications' traffic to be tunneled?
A: Yes, but for the safety reason, all other traffics are disabled by default. You can enable UDP/SSH/Other Traffic by clicking "Options" button on the toolbar, then select "Advanced Options" menu, and check the corresponding check boxes in "Gbridge Firewall For Incoming Traffic" groups. By doing so, you can enable FTP/Telnet or other services by using appropriate clients and domain name, i.e. ftp

Q: What's the DNS name convention in Gbridge?
A: Computers within Gbridge network can be uniquely identified by easy-to-remember DNS names. All the computers are organized hierarchically using the following convention:
In the Gbridge network, each computer logically belongs to a single user at any time (you can switch to another user when needed). Each user can have multiple computers under his/her account. When Gbridge software is installed on both parties, you can always access the services of other computers by using that domain name in place where a normal domain name is required. Computer name (i.e. hostname) is specified in the login window, it could be an arbitrary string (which contains only letters and digits), such as home, work, office and etc. You can change it anytime when you log in. It should uniquely identify a specific computer of yours.