Personal Cloud Storage: What Is It And How Do You Set It Up?
Cloudwards.net goes through the particulars of personal cloud storage and the best ways to get started on your very own home setup.
By 02 Oct'17 2017-10-02 00:18:29—
Sync.com is one of the newer services in the cloud storage industry. Based in Canada, they are exceptionally good at protecting people’s privacy with end-to-end encryption, while also maintaining ease-of-use and good performance.Visit www.sync.com
Dropbox, based in the US, impressed us with fast synchronization, even of very large files through delta sync. Their mobile apps are top-notch and sync files effortlessly between devices, however, Dropbox still lacks critical security features.Visit www.dropbox.com
Some cloud providers, including Dropbox, have had it easy thus far, by being in the business for such a long time.
Of course, it helps that Dropbox also offers reliability, with regard to several basic cloud features and people tend to go for familiar tools when they are unsure.
According to a report, Dropbox has around 500 million users, and approximately 1.2 billion files get uploaded on a daily basis.
But, is Dropbox really one of the best cloud providers in terms of the features they offer, or are there any new competitors emerging, which can offer a better cloud experience?
To answer this question and help you make an informed selection, we’ve pitted Dropbox against Sync.com, which is a relatively new cloud service provider.
In fact, this new cloud company claims to be a secure alternative to Dropbox, with end-to-end encryption, advanced sharing and permission control.
So, we thought it would be great to compare the features of Dropbox against those of Sync, to see if it’s worth making a change.
Sync.com is a new entrant to the cloud storage market, having been founded by Thomas Savundra, Darius Antia, and Suhan Shan in 2011. The same team that had previously kick started one of the largest web hosting companies, in the form of Netfirms.
They realized that most cloud service providers, that offered these same kind of services, allow you to store data on their servers.
But, they also have access to these servers and the contents of files stored on them.
Yet, according to this team, security and privacy in the cloud is of the utmost importance, which eventually led them to bringing Sync.com to the world.
At Sync.com, they ensure that your data is only accessible by you and no one else. Thus, the Sync.com team has attempted to provide a cloud storage and backup service that is securer, than other options on the market.
It has always marketed itself as a zero-knowledge storage platform, that serves as a secure alternative to Dropbox and OneDrive.
This Canada-based cloud service provider emerged from public beta in 2015 and has made continuous improvements to provide better cloud services.
Moreover, it offers a free starter plan with 5GB storage space that never expires.
Tens of thousands of businesses have already started using Sync.com, to keep their files safe and secure in the cloud.
This cloud storage provider has been around for a whole decade, having been founded in 2007 by Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi.
When these two MIT students came up with the idea for Dropbox, many thought it would not become one of the leading cloud service providers in the world.
And, the fact that Dropbox has managed to serve more than 300 million users around the world, is a testimony to its reliable services.
There may be tons of options for sharing small and large files online at the moment, but when the founders of Dropbox were in college, things weren’t the same.
They didn’t like the fact they had to email files or documents to each other, after they had finished working on them.
This led to them coming up with the idea of having a secure folder setup on a server, which can easily be accessed from anywhere and at any time.
The idea turned into a bigger reality in the form of Dropbox, which has evolved greatly over the years.
Dropbox did not restrict itself to only offering personal cloud space for the storage of all types of files.
Instead, it expanded, allowing businesses the advantage of utilizing cloud storage and file sharing features.
A testament to the business features of Dropbox, is the fact, that it has more than 150,000 business customers.
Sync.com offers a clean and easy-to-use interface.
Like Dropbox, you need a syncing folder in place, in order to start storing, syncing, and sharing all your files– across multiple devices.
The web browser interface is pretty simple to understand, with five different categories. These categories are:
Clearly, it is a self-explanatory web interface, that allows you to use Sync.com without any fuss.
With regard to Sync.com apps, you can use the mobile apps (Android and iOS) or the desktop app.
However, the categories and features available with the web interface are not directly reflected in the desktop version.
Yet, the desktop app contains some peculiar features, including account settings, bandwidth control and file settings. Which are not available in the web interface panel.
As Dropbox has been around for a long time, many individuals have used its services for their personal files.
This has made it easy for businesses to adopt Dropbox business, as many employees are already familiar with how Dropbox works.
Even without this familiarity factor, Dropbox is a user-friendly cloud platform, that can upload all your files (to be shared and synced across devices) to a dedicated syncing folder.
Once you’ve selected and placed files in this syncing folder, the data gets transferred to your Dropbox account.
When new files are added, or existing files are modified, you can sync the information across multiple devices (desktop, mobile, and so on).
If you are using Dropbox from a web browser, to transfer data files, then you may find it difficult to track the “upload” button.
Yet, all the other features are pretty simple and straightforward.
To make things relatively easy for you, Dropbox also allows files or folders to be sorted on the basis of file type. You can even share files quickly with the help of a few selections.
Sync.com and Dropbox are pretty similar in terms of their usability. The availability of a unique feature like the Vault, gives Sync.com a small edge, if that feature is important to you.
With Dropbox, you can easily transfer all your files to the Dropbox folder, once they have been transferred, simply sync them across all your devices.
You can even organize folders by creating sub-directories, it is also possible to attach Dropbox files directly from your Gmail account, through the Dropbox Chrome extension.
Files are automatically synced with all the Dropbox folders, on other computing devices, which you have logged in with the same account.
However, you can choose to avoid this automatic syncing of files across devices, just choose to sync the file individually.
This way, files shared in a Dropbox folder also become available to you, when you aren’t online.
You can edit files in offline mode and sync the changes once you’re online again.
When you right click on any of the folders that you want to share, the option to do so will become visible. However, with Dropbox, it is impossible to sync folders outside a Dropbox account.
There’s also multi-user version control on offer, which allows multiple users to work on Dropbox files and edit or update them, without overwriting any saves.
During syncing, Dropbox can upload modified portions of a file, instead of the entire file, as it uses the delta encoding technique for maintaining file version history.
Similar to Dropbox, Sync also offers easy file sharing options.
You can directly share files by using a link or invite collaborators to join your file sharing group. If you’re sharing a file via a link, place a limit on the number of times the link can be used.
You also have the option to set an expiry date for the link.
And, when the person with whom you’ve shared the file downloads it, you will be notified.
Which is particularly useful when multiple people (especially in a team) access the same set of shared files or folders.
However, the drawback is that you get extremely limited options for file sharing, with the desktop or the mobile apps, compared to Sync’s web portal.
However, to access the bandwidth control settings, the desktop app will be neccesary.
Sync.com also uses the “custom passwords” feature to privately view shared data.
The biggest advantage of Sync.com is its granular access control, when it comes to file and folder permissions, for effective sharing.
You can control who has access to the files and can:
Them by setting permissions for “read only” or “read write” with the Sync Pro account.
Both offer similar file sharing and syncing features, but the easy-to-use granular access controls of Sync.com, definitely gives it the edge in this round.
Dropbox offers highly reliable upload and download speeds.
Yet, it takes longer to upload files than to download them, but both uploading and downloading can be done quickly.
We managed to upload a set of files, which consisted of text and images, with an approximate size of around 55MB in just about three minutes.
We were able to download the same set of files from Dropbox in less than one minute.
Of course, speed depends on the internet connections as well, but Dropbox is quick, irrespective of the type of internet connection.
This is largely due to the fact that there is no end-to-end encryption of files stored on Dropbox, which means that no additional time is spent decrypting or encrypting the files.
As Sync.com encrypts data before and when it is uploading, it takes slightly longer to upload each encrypted files, than to upload non-encrypted files.
Still, Sync.com manages to provide great uploads and downloads speeds.
However, the high encryption level take its toll and file previews are a lot slower, compared to Dropbox’s file previews in the web browser.
Dropbox is the winner here, as it offers faster data previews in comparison to Sync.
The following plans are offered by Dropbox:
Dropbox Basic – 2GB of free storage space, simple file sharing, reliable backups and anywhere access at no cost.
Dropbox Pro – 1TB of storage space, remote wipe and additional sharing controls at $9.99 per month.
Dropbox Business – As much storage space as required, unlimited file recovery and file sharing controls at $15.00 per user a month (with a 30-days free trial).
|Plan||Dropbox Basic Free Personal||Dropbox Premium Personal / Plus||Dropbox Standard Business||Dropbox Advanced Business||Enterprise Business|
$ 13 25monthly
$ 99 00yearly
$ 17 50monthly
$ 150 00yearly
$ 25 00monthly
$ 240 00yearly
2GB, with referrals adding up to 15GB.
1TB plus additional file sharing and collaboration tools.
Prices quoted are per user, with a minimum of three. 2TB for entire team, regardless of team size, plus additional file sharing and collaboration tools.
Prices quoted are per user, with a minimum of three. Unlimited space, plus advanced collaboration tools.
Same as "advanced business" but with unlimited 24/7 phone support; pricing is agreed per customer.
Sync provides different plans as discussed below:
A free plan that never expires, as there is no fixed “free trial” period. You get 5GB of free storage space and can enjoy standard file sharing and syncing features.
You also get offline access, web browser access, and the ability to access Sync.com via different platform apps.
You can securely send files to any person, who does not have a Sync account.
Moreover, it supports real-time disaster recovery and deleted file recovery.
For 500GB of storage space – This account costs $49.00 per year.
For 2TB of storage space – This account costs $98.00 per year.
You get all the Starter plan features, access to advanced sharing controls such as setting expiry dates, access permissions and download limits.
You can view download statistics and use the “remote wipe” feature, in the event of a device theft or loss, to avoid important data falling into the wrong hands.
The Pro account also offers priority email support.
|Plan||Starter||Pro Personal (Option One)||Pro Personal (Option Two)||Pro Business (Option One)||Pro Business (Option Two)|
$ 4 08monthly
$ 48 96yearly
$ 8 00monthly
$ 96 00yearly
$ 5 00monthly
$ 60 00yearly
$ 8 00monthly
$ 96 00yearly
Sync.com is the winner here, due to better features and cheaper pricing, with the Pro account for businesses and greater storage space with the free account.
Dropbox makes use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) 3.3 / Transport Layer Security (TLS), to protect data during transfers to and from their servers.
Also, 256-bit AES encryption is used to ensure the security of files stored in Dropbox.
Customers do not have access to private encryption keys, instead, Dropbox uses its own encryption keys that the Dropbox team has access to.
The Dropbox security team also conducts manual and automated application security testing regularly, to identify and patch potential security vulnerabilities, along with any bugs in Dropbox apps.
In fact, they allow you to report any such vulnerabilities or bugs via a third-party service, such as HackerOne.
Dropbox does not always have encryption done for media files, streamed from its servers, as not all media players can stream encrypted media files.
Some other security features include extending support for perfect forward secrecy, flagging all authentication cookies as secure, and enabling HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS).
To ensure the user’s privacy and account security, third-party developers are allowed to create apps for Dropbox, as long as they stick to the guidelines and practices defined.
This cloud service provider thus makes sure it has a unique key for every app created and can revoke an app key, if the guidelines, or terms and conditions are not followed properly.
In order to grant different levels of account access to the apps, without revealing the user account details, Dropbox uses OAuth, which is an industry-standard protocol for authorization.
However, the security on offer is not comprehensive and this was recently made evident, when some Dropbox users were under the attack of a phishing scam.
This phishing attack lured Dropbox users into revealing their usernames and passwords, as they got notified about some shared file being too large to share over email.
The users were thus asked to click on a link, which took users to a site that looked like Dropbox.
Another security glitch was identified at Dropbox, when it was possible for a third-party to search private information on Dropbox.
They managed to resolve this issue quickly, but not before some sensitive information was already leaked.
As mentioned earlier, Sync.com is a cloud service provider based in Canada.
Which means there’s no need to worry about the NSA’s surveillance activities, which the US government uses to access online data, via the Patriot Act.
Sync offers end-to-end encryption, which means that data is encrypted before and while it is on the server, and while it is in transit.
Sync.com also uses 256-bit AES encryption for data files on the server, and SSL / TLS encryption for data files that are being transferred. It makes sure that only the user has private access to their 2048-bit RSA keys.
These will be used by the web browser, or the Sync.com client, to decrypt data when it is downloaded again.
Clearly, the high-end security encryption offered by Sync.com stands up to its claim of not having any access to your data, no wonder it’s labelled a zero-knowledge cloud service provider.
However, this level of encryption does make it time-consuming to view file previews, as every image has to be decrypted before it can be viewed.
For additional account security, you can use:
Also, Sync ensures there are appropriate security audits by KPMG for the SOC-1 certified data centers, which makes it possible for the stored files to be available most of the time.
These data centers enable Sync to offer compliance with various standards, including HIPAA for the US as well as PIPA, FIPPA, PIPEDA, PHIPA and ATIPPA for Canada.
The best part is that Sync.com does not learn your passwords, as they are never transmitted to Sync.
Also, the passwords are hashed and never stored with Sync.
Even if your device is lost or falls into the wrong hands, you can always use the “remote wipe” feature, which is available with the Sync Pro account, to wipe any synced confidential information from your desktop or Mac.
Sync.com is a clear winner in terms of security, with its end-to-end encryption, private keys and hashed passwords.
$ 4.08 per month
$ 13.25 per month
|Sync.com ReviewVisit Sync.com||Dropbox ReviewVisit Dropbox|
After comparing Dropbox vs Sync.com, based on the different parameters, we can safely say that Sync.com is our preferred choice, despite it being relatively new to the cloud business.
The high-end security features, privacy considerations, compliance with popular standards and cheap prices make it a good choice for us.
If you have used Dropbox or Sync.com, please feel free to share your experiences in the comments section below.