11 File-Sync Services Compared

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11 File-Sync Services Compared

The ability to keep one or more folders of files synchronised across multiple computers and mobile devices has become a staple facility for small business users. Dropbox is probably the best-known service of its type, but there are several to choose from. Here is BIT's summary of the major players.

Examine the table below!

UPDATE: We mistakenly uploaded a draft version of the table earlier. Here's the correct version. Was it a problem with cloud file-sync? No... no it wasn't. It was just human error.

Tier Price/month Storage Extras Notes
Box Personal Free 10GB   250GB maximum file size. Upgrade to 100GB of storage and 5GB maximum file size for $US10/month
Box Starter $US6/user 100GB 2GB maximum file size, 25 previous versions of files, access controls 3-10 users
Box Business $US17/user Unlimited (see notes) 5GB maximum file size, 50 previous versions of files, mobile security controls, one Active Directory/SSO integration 3 users minimum. Price depends on storage required
Box Enterprise POA Unlimited (see notes) 100 previous versions of files, unlimited Active Directory/SSO integrations, integration with third-party SaaS applications  
Copy Basic Free 15GB   30 day file revision history and file recovery
Copy Pro $US4.99 250GB 180 day file revision history and recovery 1TB available at extra cost
Copy Companies See notes See notes Unlimited file revision history and recovery, group management, multiple admin accounts, separate personal and work data, support for Copy Site Server (hardware appliance for storing a local cache of your Copy data) Copy for Companies has a different pricing structure to most services in this category. You can subscribe for a certain amount of cloud storage (starting at 100GB for $US399 per year) or for a certain number of users (starting at $US74.90 per month or $US900 per year for unlimited storage for 10 users)
Cubby Basic Free 5GB   Includes unlimited versioning
Cubby Pro $US3.99 100GB Remote wipe, DirectSync option (no data stored on Cubby's servers, just your devices), password protection on individual Cubbies (folders) with customer-controlled encryption Introductory price, usually $US6.99. Additional storage available at extra cost
Cubby Enterprise $US39.99 1TB Centralised control and deployment, real-time logging, Active Directory support Price for five users sharing 1TB. Price and quota increases proportionately with the number of users
Basic Free 2GB   Files shared between users count against both quotas
Pro $10.99 1TB More control over sharing, remote wipe Deleted files and previous versions stored for 30 days. Extended Version History option ($49/year) provides one year retention.
Business $17/user 1TB Unlimited file recovery, priority support Minimum 5 users. Additional storage at extra cost
Google Drive Basic Free 15GB    
Google Drive Work $US10/user Unlimited (see notes) Includes Google Apps for Work, automatic OCR and image recognition to simplify search, sharing of up to 5TB with users without Google accounts, administration controls,  Storage limited to 1TB for accounts with fewer than 5 users.
Basic Free 15GB   Includes Office Online
100GB $2 100GB    
200GB $4 200GB    
1TB $9 1TB Includes Office 365  
Business $5.10/user 1TB Office integration, version control  
ShareFile Personal $US16 100GB   10GB maximum file size
ShareFile Team $US60 for 5 users 1TB E-signature integration, mobile editing, Outlook and Gmail plugins, third-party integrations,  $US10 per additional user
ShareFile Business $100 for 5 users Unlimited 100GB maximum file size, email encryption, device security, user management, full text search, file check in/out, archiving and more  
SpiderOak Free Free 2GB   Emphasis on privacy - the company never knows your decryption key
SpiderOak Personal $US7 30GB   1TB ($US12/month) and 5TB ($25/month) also available
SpiderOak Professional $US12 1TB Unlimited devices andhistorical versions, no file size limit  
SpiderOak Blue SMB $US6/user Unlimited   Minimum 10 users
SpiderOak Blue Enterprise (hosted) $US6/user Unlimited LDAP/Active Directory integration Minimum 100 users
SpiderOak Blue Enterprise (private cloud) $US6/user Unlimited   Minimum 500 users. Runs in private cloud.
SugarSync Individual $US7.49 100GB   Additional storage starts at $US9.99 for 250GB total.
SugarSync Business $US55 for 3 users 1TB Admin controls, remote wipe Additional users from $13/month. Custom plans for 10+ users.
SyncPlicity Personal Free 10GB   100GB for $US60/year
SyncPlicity Business $US60/user/year 300GB plus 5GB/user Admin controls and reporting, Active Directory/SSO integration Minimum 3 users. Additional storage available
SyncPlicity Department $US60/user/year 1TB   Minimum 25 users. Additional storage available
SyncPlicity Enterprise $US150/user/year Unlimited Can also use on-premises storage. Integration with Documentum, mobile access to SharePoint and network shares  
Wuala Personal € 0.99 5GB   Additional storage starts at €2.99/month for 20GB
Wuala Business €389/year 100GB 5 groups of 5 users Additional storage starts at €249 for 100GB, additional users and groups start at €99 for 5 of each

NB: This information has been compiled from the companies’ web sites. The Extras column relates to the various pricing tiers, and should not be used to compare services.

So which is best? As usual, there’s no simple answer to that question.

If you’re concerned about the size and stability of the providers, then Google (Google Drive) and Microsoft (OneDrive) are about as big as they get. While some of the other names may be unfamiliar, they are brands or subsidiaries of significant players in the IT industry: Barracuda Networks (Copy), LogMeIn (Cubby), Citrix (ShareFile), EMC (Syncplicity) and Seagate (Wuala, via LaCie).

Box was founded 10 years ago, and claims to be used by 34 million people – and 45,000 companies. Dropbox has been around since 2007, and claims more than 300 million users, including some in 97 percent of Fortune 500 companies. SugarSync is slightly younger having launched in 2008. While it only claims “millions of users,” it has partnered with companies including Lenovo, SanDisk and Korea Telecom to provide cloud services to their customers. SpiderOak is of similar vintage, having been formed in 2007, and has received plaudits for its focus on privacy. As SpiderOak puts it, “'Zero-Knowledge' privacy means the server NEVER knows the plaintext contents of the data being stored. Never. Your data is never at risk of being compromised or abused by internal threats or external hackers. Never.”

Other issues to consider include the obvious one of how much storage you get for your money (but before you get too excited by the idea of a terabyte in the cloud, think about the data transfer costs), whether the service works with your favoured operating systems and devices (eg, the choices are limited if you’re a BlackBerry user), and the recoverability of files that have been deleted or modified. And if access to existing systems is built around Active Directory, using a file-sync service that supports AD will reduce the administrative load.

And if you’re cloud-phobic — or just suspicious — it is possible to achieve similar functionality without your data residing on someone else’s servers. Cubby’s DirectSync capability is one example, BitTorrent Sync is another. Furthermore, and some NAS devices provide synchronisation software (eg the Netgear ReadyNAS 314 with support for Windows, Android and iOS). 

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