Talking tech since 2003

Previously, I’ve discussed setting up a home server, and making the contents of that server available remotely through the LogMeIn Hamachi service.  The problem with this type of solution is that it often becomes inaccessible to users trying to access it behind corporate or school firewalls.  Additionally, Hamachi requires you to install software in order to access your files remotely.  Hamachi is great for use on your computers, but what if you want to access your files from a friend’s computer, or from a computer where it is not possible or reasonable for you to install a third-party application?

This is where Opera, a quickly growing browser which boasts as being “the fastest browser on Earth” can come into play.  You see, starting with the 10.0 release of Opera, users of the software could enable a “Unite” feature, which essentially turned the user’s computer into a mini web-server which was specifically designed to make it easy for users to share files, photos, music, and media.  This feature is excellent in the sense that it allows for content to be made available in a web-based fashion, meaning accessing it does not require the end user to install any type of software onto their computer.  Today’s tutorial will go through the process of setting up Opera Unite, and accessing it from afar.

  • The first step is obviously to install Opera onto your home computer or home server.  If you do not already have it, you can download it for free at
  • Once you have Opera installed, you will want to open it and click on the “Unite” button towards the bottom-left of your screen.
  • The first window you will be presented with will be a brief introduction to the Opera Unite services.  Feel free to read over it, and when you are ready, click “Next” to proceed with setup.
  • If you already have an Opera account (if you use Opera Sync, etc.), click the “I already have an account” button in the next window.  If not, fill out the registration form, and click “Next”.
  • The next window will ask you to assign a name to your computer.  This name will become part of the URL that you will use to access your content via the internet at a later point in time.  Give your computer a name in the space provided, and click “Finish” to complete the setup.  Be sure to take note of the URL it provided, as this will be the URL that you will need to access your files.

Once Opera Unite is set up, you will be presented with a list of add-ons which you can enable in Opera Unite.  For this tutorial I will go over setting up the “Media Player” feature, however enabling the other services (File Sharing, Fridge, Messenger, Photo Sharing, and Web Server) follow the same process.

  • First, right click the “Media Player” component, and select “Start”.
  • Next, tell the dialog where your media is located, either by entering the path in the box provided, or by selecting the “Choose” button and navigating to your media folder.
  • When you have entered your media directory correctly, you simply need to click on the “Ok” button.
  • You can repeat these steps as necessary to enable different services.
  • Next, double click on the “Opera Unite Home” button, and click on the “Visit” button next to the “Media Player” application.
  • On the right-hand side of the “Visit” page, configure the security options as you see fit.  You can either choose to make your content available to the public without the need for authentication, or you can choose to require users to enter a password in order to access the content.
  • Additionally, if you choose to use the password protection, you can click on the chain button to view a one-click URL that will allow you to access your media without entering a password.

To access Opera Unite from afar, simply fire up your web browser and navigate to the URL that you established during the Opera Unite setup process.  Once there, click the “Visit” button next to one of the applications you have configured.  You will then be presented with a password dialog (if you have this configured), and the ultimately presented with your media.  From there, everything is web-based, and you will not be required to download any additional software.

It is important to note, that like with Hamachi, you will need to keep your computer and Opera running in order for you to be able to access your content from afar.  With Unite enabled, Opera will provide you with the option to “Hide Opera” as opposed to simply exiting it.  This will allow the Opera service to remain running, and will allow you to access your content from outside of your home.

All in all, I believe that Opera Unite is a very polished product, and that installation and configuration are fairly simple.  In addition, the web-based access truly gives the product an advantage, and can be easily employed by a great number of people.

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