Friday, April 22, 2011

A Review of Cloud File Syncing Services

I've been a big fan of Microsoft's Live Mesh beta until its scheduled cease of service on March 31, 2011. Microsoft suggests users to move to the new Windows Live Sync service (not beta) which won't support XP anymore. I can't step on to that because XP is still my OS of choice.

So I did an extensive search for replacement FREE file syncing services. Here is the summary of that.

SugarSync - 5 stars
This is currently my service of choice. It gives you 5GB for free which is the same as Live Sync beta. Even you can upgrade it to 10GB after many referrals to your friends. Feel free to use this link if you are interested to join in since it gives you a bonus storage for both you and me.
Incorporation with Explorer is perfect and you will have a folder named Magic Briefcase under your Documents folder. The speed of syncing is FASTEST. The state of syncing is color-marked for each file which is very comprehensive. Feeling of use is most similar to Live Mesh beta. Reliability seems to be very good after a few weeks of extensive use.

Dropbox - 3 stars
You get 2GB for free. In addition you can earn bonus spaces by making referrals up to the maximum of 8GB. Incorporation with Explorer is good as it has a real Explorer folder named My Dropbox under your Document folder. The speed of syncing is fast enough though not the fastest.

ZumoDrive - 3 stars
For this one you get 1GB for free initially but you can easily upgrade it to 2GB still free after you had done its learning tour called Dojo. (This service has a touch of Japanese martial arts like Judo and Sumo.) Anyway, this 'mandatory' upgrade tour was a little tedious.
Incorporation with Explorer is good enough and you will have a new Z: drive under My Computer which behaves exactly as a real drive. Syncing is fast enough though not the fastest. Some files which are not yet loaded onto local drive are served on demand via streaming.

Sky Drive (Microsoft) - 2 stars
It has a generous 25GB which is one of the largest among the services. For incorporation with Windows Explorer, you need a third-party tool like SDExplorer. Although it tries to imitate explorer, it's not a 'real' one. You cannot open or move files quickly. It is painfully SLOW. This service is only good for storing files which you rarely access and use.
I found the frequent updates of SDExplorer very annoying. This is inevitable because it's a third-party software which needs to catch up with minor server-side changes of the interface by Microsoft. There may even be a small lapse of service until the necessary update will be made.

Syncplicity - 1 star
It gives you 2GB free, has nice user interface and is syncing quite fast. However, it syncs ONLY TWO computers which is unusable. Even paid version (personal) syncs ONLY 5 PCs. These days PCs, especially small laptops, are so cheap that I usually sync between more than five PCs (work desktop, work laptop, home desktop, home laptop and so on). It is regrettable because other features are so great.

Box.net - 1 star
Gives you 5GB for free. There is NO incorporation with Explorer. You have to do it through web browser. This is unusable for me because incorporation with Explorer is so important to me.

ADrive - 1 star
Gives you 50GB (wow!) for free. However, this is also not my choice because there's NO incorporation with Explorer. Lots of ADs in browser interface. Not workplace quality.

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