Copy.com is closed. We find Sync.com to be the best alternative. You can read a review here.

Copy.com is a new cloud storage service from Barracuda Networks, a company that has a certain amount of experience in data storage and backup solutions. Copy is being marketed as a rival to the likes of SkyDrive and Dropbox, so it’s entering a crowded market.

Like its high-profile and more established competitors, Copy offers file syncing across multiple devices, a range of apps and easy installation. Users are also treated to some of the more generous referral bonuses we’ve seen.

Copy tries to distinguish itself by promoting its Fair Storage for All policy, so I’ll focus on that in this review. 

First, a look at the basics.

What Can Copy Do?

Copy can be used as a cloud storage solution, for cloud sync or as a way to share files (publicly and/or privately). It has a clean, simple and uncluttered interface that’s not unlike Pinterest, and its desktop app is well designed. Its developers also offer apps for most smartphones and tablets.

When sharing a file in Copy, the sender can decide whether the recipient should have full access or read-only permissions. There’s nothing particularly new in that, but it gives every user a reassuring amount of control.

Copy also offers a LAN sharing option which is useful if you want to quickly distribute documents with users in the same room. The feature is called Send to Peer, and it only works with desktops and laptops. If you share with a Copy user on the same subnet, local sharing kicks in automatically.

Fair Storage for All: What it Means

So let’s look at Fair Storage for All. It’s Copy’s flagship feature, and it’s the main reason I felt compelled to try it out.

Imagine I share a 3GB folder with three people. Under Copy’s rules, each user’s quota will only drop by 1GB. On other similar cloud storage or backup services, each user would lose the full 3GB from their allowance.

In other words, the space needed to store that folder is split evenly between the people sharing it. 

Unfortunately, the interface and help documentation really aren’t very clear about Fair Storage for All. Given that this is Copy’s flagship feature, it should be better explained.

And, crucially, it should work a lot more smoothly than it does right now. 

Sharing Files on Copy

First, let’s be clear about Fair Storage for All. It only applies to folders, not individual files. For the purposes of this review, I decided to share my Camera Uploads folder with a colleague.

First, I tried sharing from my Mac. But Copy wouldn’t allow me to share any folders in my Copy directory. I received an error message.

This is worrying. There’s nothing to explain this error message on the Copy website, yet this is Copy’s flagship feature. According to a Facebook post, this problem was actually reported as a bug in late May 2013, and there was some suggestion that it has been a problem since March. We’re now in June. It’s still not working.

So, as a workaround, I went to the Copy website to create a share there.

(Note: to list the files you have uploaded, click the ‘Browse’ link. This isn’t particularly intuitive.)

From here, I was able to share the file and choose whether my recipient should have full read/write access or not. 

Again, we had some problems.

  • The recipient joined my folder via the web. It showed up fine in the browser, but the Copy app didn’t sync anything.
  • When the recipient checked the app, Copy said he had been invited, but didn’t allow him to re-confirm his acceptance of the invite.
  • Fair Sharing didn’t kick in either. My quota took the entire strain, and his still showed zero usage, even up to an hour later.
 

Teething Troubles

At signup, every Copy user gets a generous storage allowance of 15GB, with referral bonuses added in 5GB increments. Realistically, most users will be pretty pleased with that. On a basic level, there’s enough functionality to satisfy the average user with fairly basic needs. The web layout is not brilliant, but the mobile apps and desktop functionality is well thought out.

However, there’s a clear problem with Copy’s biggest selling point. Unless I’m seriously mistaken, the sharing functionality that’s been hyped either doesn’t work or isn’t very intuitive. Also, a critical bug seems to have been lingering for at least three months – possibly longer.

When it comes to cloud backup and storage, I’ll use the service I feel is most reliable and functional. I was ready to switch to Copy for the sharing policy alone. But assuming my experience is typical, this isn’t a finished product, and I’d be hesitant to use it for critical data until its core functionality is fixed.

8 thoughts on “Copy.com Cloud Storage: the Solution to Fair Sharing?”

  1. I’m sad to report that the initial free storage offer and referrals program are great, and the service looks good on paper, but in reality it is very poor. My wife and I have both recently signed up for the Copy cloud storage service and disappointingly have found it to be very unreliable. It is vital that cloud services are both easy to use and total reliable – this is not the case with the Copy service. Usability is good, but the PC/Laptop Copy syncing application is fraught with bugs, and basically doesn’t work. On both my own and my wife’s Copy accounts the Copy desktop syncing application reports all files are up to date and sync’ed to our cloud storage when this is not the case. Deleted files also keep reappearing.

    I am a professional software product developer, and I think it beggars belief that a large company like Barracuda Networks can release such an appalling bad bit of software for what needs to be a totally reliable service.

  2. Sadly, same think for me. I tried copy.com a year ago and found it unreliable. Online support was very active and proposed me some solutions, but I finally gave up.

    1. Thank you for the tip, Amigo. Your blog is really useful. Unfortunately I think that this is too obtuse for many users, and the service clearly has other problems that make it quite difficult to recommend.

  3. Sad to say count me in on the users who really wanted this service to work. I got a bunch of my friends signed up and built up over 100gb of storage rather quickly. But simply said, it just doesn’t work. Files don’t sync that should. Mobile devices all show up with different file structures. The website and the files on my hard drive and never the same. The desktop sync always gives me errors. And for some reason it builds up like 20 or more constant tcp connections to the main server and many of them sit in “TIME_WAIT” for days at a time. The usability is surprisingly good and the website visually is designed nice. But the most important thing for a service like this is reliability of which copy.com completely fails at at. And this is coming from someone who has continually hoped and tried this service for over a yesr and it’s just the same old story. This is where Dropbox simply cannot be beat. Dropbox is more seamless within a windows environment than microsofts own Skydrive. I don’t think I’ve ever had but 1 error or screwup with Dropbox. I know when I put a file in my Dropbox it will promptly be synced to the website and all devices within seconds, no hassle, works like a pro every single time.

    Copy.com = fail

  4. I was googling for “sharing files with read-only access”, I stumbled upon this page and I felt I should comment on this “copy = fail” because I think Copy deserves it. I have to disagree with you, I’m having a great experience with Copy. The sync apps always worked flawlessly (I signed up about an year ago) the only drawback is the sync speed, it could be faster sometimes but I think it has been improved. I never had any kind of sync issue and I migrated all my files from Dropbox (~4GB) to Copy (~100GB with the generous referral policy). So, while I accept that personal experiences may not be the same everywhere, I really hope Copy has its deserved success.

  5. I also use Copy and I think that is not Copy is unreliable anymore.

    Of course, there are still a few things that could be improved.

    I also use Copy and I think that is not Copy is unreliable anymore.

    As if the copy is finished to synchronize then deleted files reappear.

    And the lack of a function to copy files and folders on mobile devices, but that’s about the only thing.

  6. I have been trying to use it for the last two days. I setup a folder to share and added the list of authorized users.
    All of them received the invite in their emails. But only 2 out of 8 were able to access .

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