Sami Greenbury
Technology, Teaching & Travel

Comparison of Cloud Storage Options

Over the past few months I’ve switched between several cloud-storage options. Here’s an overview of my thoughts on each. These are in the order which I tried them in with the newest (and so my current favourite) at the top.

Unless otherwise noted, all of these features are available in the free version also.

Cubby

Pros

  • Cheap (may go up after Beta period).
  • DirectSync means you can use the Cubby software to sync files between computers on your LAN without those files counting towards your quota (unless you are also syncing them to the cloud) Only for paid accounts
  • Very simple interface.
  • Easily lets you merge a Cloud folder with a Local folder.

Cons

  • You get told how many files and how many bytes still need to be synced, but you don’t get any indication as to the speed it’s transferring at.
  • You can share a Cubby with other users, but you can’t share only a subfolder.
  • Support are not very helpful. Syncing got stuck with files left for me on two machines, on one occasion a support guy phoned me to try and diagnose, but basically told me to look through the log file myself and find the problem. Email support then refused to help because I had mentioned I’d used a network drive on one machine, they left me with “we don’t support network drives” regardless of my other machine having the same problem without the network drive.

Wuala

Pros

  • The security concious will enjoy their pre-transfer encryption.
  • Sync files and folders in place, no need to move or symlink them.
  • Backup Option lets you have a single-directional syncing folder.
  • Small, cheap options for sizing.
  • Easy to contact support by email or through the forum.

Cons

  • Very limited view of the status of your files.
  • Requires Java for both

SparkleShare

Self-Hosted option, based on Git.

Pros

  • Self Hosting gives you flexibility and the option of cheap space.

Cons

  • Self-Hosting means you’re responsible for your own redundancy.
  • On large amounts of files (dozens of thousands) SparkleShare appeared to try and handle them in batches of a few hundred, but still froze and never finshed.

Google Drive

Pros

  • Get to your files quickly if you use Gmail.

Cons

  • Hogged resources when tracking many files (I added dozens of thousands, and often had to quit Drive to keep everything else running).
  • You have to keep your files in the Google Drive folder.
  • Doesn’t follow symlinks.
  • You can only sync into an empty folder, you cannot merge your Drive contents with some local files (an issuee after a reinstall) to save downloading files again.

Dropbox

Pros

  • Most of the people I’ve wanted to share files with, already have Dropbox.
  • Easily see the status of your files and you have the information you need to judge how long until everythnig is in sync.
  • Share individual folders with other users.
  • Follows Symlinks (Junctions/Hardlinks).

Cons

  • The smallest package is £10 for 100GB, if you only need 20GB it can feel nasty to pay for all the space you don’t need.
  • Based on Amazon s3 you’re supporting Amazon and their less than friendly business and environmental practices.
  • All your files must be in your Dropbox folder, however following Symlinks eases this trouble.
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