Phillip Smith

Secure alternatives to @Dropbox: Where I'll be investing my $99 refund.

Earlier this week, I decided to leave the cloud-based files storage service Dropbox due to concerns about their take on security and customer communication. (To their benefit, they offered me a full refund to make that happen quickly.)

The obvious question I got was: What are you going to use instead?

The answer: Wuala.

If you’re interested in why, and a quick comparison with some other services, read on.

If you just want to sign-up and give it a try, feel free to use my referral link to get an extra 1 GB of storage with the free version (giving me an extra .5 GB in the process!).

When looking for a Dropbox replacement, here are the features that are important to me:

  • Security: Locally created & stored encryption key. Encryption in transit and on the remote disk. (Some will say that most services need to cache the key if you sign-in through a Web site, but at least they might not keep it kicking around. And, if you don’t use the Web site, theoretically there’s no copy of they key. If you want “real” security, encrypt your own files or don’t store them in the cloud.)
  • Sync: Automated folder sync options. I don’t want to have to remember to move things in or out of something.
  • Share: I must admit, I don’t use the share stuff as much as I could, but being able to share a folder or a file with a person, or a team, is a great feature.
  • Finder / OS integration: It has to be easy to use, and work like any other folder or mounted drive.
  • Priced reasonably for storage: ideally with an invite code, referral program, or other ways to ‘earn’ storage.
  • Basic iOS and Android clients: nothing fancy, just access to the files (ideally read/write) and using the same kind of encryption as the desktop client.

Admittedly, I’ve done a very, very cursory review of the following services. Some I’ve tried in the past, some I tried this week, and with some I just simply reviewed their FAQs and support forums for answers to my questions. I have not personally confirmed the claims around security, or encryption on mobile devices, for example. Feel free to let me know if I’ve got something wrong, or if I’ve missed a service entirely.

Many thanks to Elijah for the introduction to Wuala. The runner-ups, IMHO, would be SpiderOak and SparkleShare (h/t to @walkah for the later).

</tr> </tr> </tr> </tr> </tbody></table> Having used Wuala for a week now, here's what I really like: * Even though the desktop application is written in Java, it's responsive, full-featured, and actually kind of fun to use because of the way that sharing works. * Sharing is super-simple and can be done through sharing links or groups. In groups, the sharing is a bit like a poor man's Basecamp, as comments are enabled on everything and there's a nifty little notification when a new comment is posted. * A pro account gives you automated backups, sync, and file versioning. By far my favourite feature of Wuala is the '[trade or buy](' model for getting extra storage space. Instead of *just* having the option of buying storage, Wuala gives you the option to _share_ a bit of my local drive space as a way to earn more Wuala storage. That is a very cool idea. There you have it. Go forth and [store, sync, and share](
Dropbox replacement comparison chart
  Encryption on client</td> Sync Public sharing / groups OS Integration Mobile Starting price Notes No No Yes No Yes $45/month</th> File size limit 1GB
Jungle Disk Maybe? Yes Not currently Yes No $3/month</th> AWS or S3 storage
SparkleShare No Yes Yes ? No Free Git or Gitorious storage; open source software
SpiderOak Yes Yes Yes No iOS only $10/month Very ugly interface
SugarSync No Yes Yes Yes Yes $5/month Same ToS issue as Dropbox
Wuala</td> Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes $29/year Earn space by sharing space.


Hi, I'm Phillip Smith, a veteran digital publishing consultant, online advocacy specialist, and strategic convener. If you enjoyed reading this, find me on Twitter and I'll keep you updated.


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