Sunday, 2 October 2011

Ubuntu One or Dropbox?

Ubuntu One, Dropbox, Sugarsync, Windows Live Mesh, Wuala ect etc etc. The list of cloud storage providers is extensive but by far the 2 biggest names in the Linux world for cloud file syncing are Dropbox & Ubuntu One. In this article I will explain the advantages and disadvantages to each of these services and explain some of the reasons why I use one over the other. So then, let's get started...

When I first started using Ubuntu around 2 years ago, I was a dropbox user. I had a free 2GB account and used it to sync all my work files between multiple computers (my personal files tend to be on Google Docs). So finding out that Dropbox also had a Linux version was brilliant for me!

Being the geek that I am, I started playing around with Ubuntu a lot and soon found this thing called 'Ubuntu One'. It worked brilliantly with Ubuntu and means I could sync any file from any location on my hard drive using the Ubuntu One (UO) integrated application. Unfortunately Dropbox (DB) didn't have this functionality, I could only sync the specific DB folder. So, I moved over.

One day I accidentally deleted an important folder from my Documents folder in Ubuntu. I thought to myself, "no worries, Ill just hop on the the UO site and recover my folder". BIG MISTAKE! DB offers the functionality of being both a file sync and backup tool. So if you delete a folder or make a change to it that you didn't want, you can go onto the DB website and recover previous versions of files or restore deleted ones...UO doesn't have this functionality! Lucky for me I always keep a local backup as well, just in case so I was able to get my folder back.

Straight after this I moved back to DB and I now have a 50GB paid for account and sync all of my music, pictures & documents to it (whilst still keeping my local backup of course). Ok then, what actually are the advantages and disadvantages of UO & DB? Let's find out...

I've used both services so I think I am in a good position to blog about them.....

As you can see, both have there good and bad points, the main ones being that UO is cheaper but DB offers backup functionality. In my opinion, the extra money is a very small price to pay for the extra protection of the backup system on DB so that's why I use DB over UO. Many people use and love UO and if they ever implement backup tools then I will definitely consider switching back but for the time being, for me, it has to be dropbox.

EDIT - 13th May 2012
It's been a while since I wrote this article and in that time other alternatives have popped up (Google Drive for instance), Ubuntu One has also matured - a lot. So I wanted to update you guys with my more current opinion as it has changed.

With Ubuntu One (U1) maturing in the way that it has, both on Windows and on Ubuntu, coupled with the fact that it is cheaper and integrates with both Windows and Ubuntu better than Dropbox does (you can sync any folder in U1, whereas you can only sync the 'Dropbox' folder in Dropbox) I have actually migrated over to U1 and have been a very happy user for around 3 months now.

The 25GB (you get 5GB for free) of storage I get with U1 is enough for me as I actually only sync around 70% of that. I also upgraded my account to the music streaming account, with this you get 20GB of storage and the ability to stream all of the music in your account from their website or on your mobile device so you can have your music collection anywhere...all for $39.99/year (or $3.99/month).

There is one caveat to using U1 over Dropbox though - there are NO backups. U1 will of course sync all of your files between computers and if you delete a file/folder off computer A, it won't completely remove it of computer B, it will put any deleted items in the recycle bin once the sync finishes. So accidentally deleted files can easily be recovered. With the lack of a backup system this also means that there is no versioning so you can't revert your files back to earlier versions. If you do want to use U1, I would recommend a secondary, manual backup every now and then. I personally do this once a week to a 1TB USB hard drive.

So in summary, for me, U1 is cheaper, better integrated and provides more services than Dropbox, the lack of versioning and ability to restore files in the same way as Dropbox is a small price to pay. For me, it's U1 every single time. Thanks guys :)


  1. I think that this servise is much better then the DropBox, they provide more free space, 5Gb while dropbox gives only 2Gb, and bonuses are bigger. However I have these two services at the same time, and total have 7 Gb space for free :)

  2. Thanks for the comment Nick but unfortunately SugarSync isn't available for linux so I personally couldn't use it. However, I have used it in the past and it is good as long as you use windows. :)

  3. new plans to get bonus space with dropbox (up to a limit of 16 GB)


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