High Praise for Xmarks

Monday, April 5, 2010 11:35
Posted in category Internet, Software

I’ve been using computers for a long time. Being an enthusiast, I’ve put my electronics through the paces… intentionally and unintentionally. The most common task has been reinstalling the operating system.  I’ve got the process down to a fine art.

Of all the tasks that a re-installation entails, the one that caused me the most friction was restoring my bookmarks. Our family uses multiple browsers, on multiple computers. While losing them wouldn’t be the end of the world, it’d mean the loss of a database of information that’s taken years to build.

This lead to my discovery of Xmarks (formally known as Foxmarks).  Of all the features that Xmarks has to offer, these stood out:

  1. Xmarks is easy to use
  2. Xmarks works with multiple browsers
  3. Xmarks syncs bookmarks between computers (using SSL)
  4. Xmarks allows me to access my bookmarks online

Xmarks is easy to install and use. You’ll need to create an account with Xmarks. Once that’s complete, you’re up and running. Periodically, the Xmarks application connects to it’s servers and checks to see that all the bookmarks you’ve collected are saved.

Since Xmarks stores your bookmarks online, it’s great for keeping bookmarks synchronized between computers. If I do some internet research using the laptop in the morning, but in the evening my wife is using the laptop, it’s not a problem. I jump onto my desktop machine and away I go. In addition to that, if you select the SSL synchronization method (and I always recommend doing that), I know that the communication between my computer and Xmark’s servers will be encrypted and secure.

When it’s time to reinstall my computer, or setup shop on a new one, recovering my bookmarks is a breeze. I install the Xmarks software and let it pull down my bookmarks to the computer.

I usually don’t take my laptop (or desktop for that matter) to work. Every once and a while, that puts me in a pinch if I need to remember some neat coding trick that I learned at home, but could apply to work. Luckily, if I log into my Xmarks portal, I can search for the bookmark I’m looking for.

While I’m a fan of Xmarks, it may not be right for everyone. Xmarks, just like every other company, needs to pay its bills and staff. The way they do this is by creating their own search/recommendation engine based on everyone’s bookmarks. If you think about it, it’s a brilliant idea.  And if you’re not interested in searching what Xmarks has to offer, or being offered recommended sites, this can be disabled in the settings area.

Now, if you’ve got highly sensitive URLs, make sure that you log into Xmark’s website and opt-out of contributing to the bookmark database. This means that your bookmarks will still be synced online, but they won’t be used when sites are recommended to other people.  It’s very important to remember, even though you’ve opted out, your bookmarks are still out there in the internet. Anyone with access to Xmark’s database of bookmarks (that includes Xmarks staff and persons that could potentially gain illegal access) can peruse around everyone’s links. Just do what you’re most comfortable with, and doesn’t violate any of the network/privacy rules where you work.

Personally, I don’t like the “all in” or “all out” method for contributing to Xmark’s bookmark database. There are plenty of URLs that I have no problem sharing. I’d just like to have a bit more control, at a granular level, over which websites I place in the bookmark database.

Since Xmarks stores your account username and password, don’t install it on a public computer.  You may also want to have separate profiles or accounts to keep your personal bookmarks separate from the bookmarks you use for work.

Overall, Xmarks is a great addition to my web browsing experience. It’s simple to use, relatively secure and very useful in a multi-computer environment. For me, it’s a must have!

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5 Responses to “High Praise for Xmarks”

  1. Hipolito M. Wiseman says:

    April 19th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    awesome article thx!

  2. Topsy.com says:

    April 27th, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by adam_w. adam_w said: Just published a new blog post: High Praise for Xmarks http://bit.ly/9XalKg […]

  3. Jon Christensen says:

    October 2nd, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I’ve been an Xmarks (Foxmarks) user for as long as I’ve used Firefox & use it to sync between machines and browsers. I was saddened to receive an email from them saying they are closing their doors – http://blog.xmarks.com/.

  4. Adam says:

    October 3rd, 2010 at 10:58 am

    @Jon Christensen: I’d hear the same thing. There’s a petition going around to see who would be willing to pay for it. I think it’d be worth it. I don’t know of any other similar solutions which are cross-browser compatible.

  5. Stuck on Tech » Future Uncertain for Xmarks says:

    October 4th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    […] this year, I wrote about a wonderful bookmark syncing service called Xmarks. Since then, I’ve seen many friends and co-workers create an account with Xmarks. I was […]

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