Three Guys and a Podcast: Apple News & Analysis
This is part 2 of a 2 part series on cloud service comparisons. Part I of Cloud Services Comparison >
SugarSync: SugarSync is a cloud service that competes well with Dropbox. Both services sync files between the cloud and multiple computers and devices. Unlike Dropbox, SugarSync can sync any folder or folders on a computer. Files can also be emailed to one’s SugarSync account, which comes in handy on mobile devices. 5GB of free space is included as a standard option, which fairs well compared to most other competitive offerings that start at only 2GB. SugarSync plans are also a little cheaper than the rest, however, SugarSync does have some issues. The service itself is pretty slow and it takes up more memory than Dropbox. The software is also more complicated to navigate and use. For iOS users, very few applications are setup to access SugarSync files. While SugarSync covers the basics, it just does not have enough advantages to replace Dropbox.
Dropbox: Dropbox has been my main cloud service for almost two years. The service itself is simple, reliable and fast. It has a low memory footprint, which is great since it is always running. Only one folder can be synced, but the user can now decide where it is located. The biggest advantage of Dropbox is the partnered iOS applications. There are tons of iOS applications that allow files to be opened and saved to one’s Dropbox Folder. These files are then automatically synced back to the Mac or PC. It really feels like Dropbox enabled applications have access to one’s home direction on the Mac. It would be nice if Dropbox offered a 10GB or 20GB plan instead of just 50GB and 100GB. For many uses, 2GB is not enough and 50GB is too much. An ideal size would be around 10GB. For iOS users, it really is the only option. If you have not tried Dropbox yet, you can create a free account with an additional 250MB here.
iCloud: iCloud has the biggest potential of all the cloud services. Since iCloud is integrated into both the Mac and iOS, it can run more seamlessly than the rest, as others services feel like they are just bolted on. At the same time, iCloud feels incomplete, like a typical 1.0 product. The structure is there, but not the features. Files can be stored on iCloud, but there is no official syncing service. While iWork files can be synced with the iOS, they can’t sync with iWork on the Mac. Of the services iCloud does have (Mail, Calendar, Contacts) easily beat Google’s offerings. iCloud still just feels like a work in progress, but that should change over the next year as Apple and developers begin to add what should become some pretty cool features for the service. Developers like AgileBits have begun to work on adding iCloud as a syncing method for their application data. 2012 should be an interesting year for iCloud.
There is plenty of competition in the cloud service business these days, with each has their own different approach. Google is trying to keep the data on their servers so users access everything in a web page, which is where they make money. Others like Dropbox, SugarSync, and Wuala believe in cloud syncing. Syncing is a much better approach with storage prices these days. It also allows files to be stored in both places so users can access their files while offline and have a backup in case of hardware malfunctions, and Apple looks to be going down the same path with iCloud.
For now, Dropbox is the best way to keep ones files synced across multiple computers and iSO devices. If one is just looking for syncing features on the desktop, SugarSync and Wuala are good alternatives. SugarSync has better pricing plans and Wuala is more secure. Still, they don’t have enough overall advantages to push them above Dropbox. Dropbox needs to keep improving, while watching out for the next big service, iCloud. Dropbox has been the place for iOS developers to store, save, and open files, but that will change over the next year as those developers add iCloud support, which will remove one of Dropbox’s biggest advantages. In the near future, as Apple and more third party developers create file syncing applications that utilize iCloud, it's likely to put a lot of other cloud services out of business.
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