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A secure alternative to Dropbox: Tondio, SpiderOak, Cubby, and GoodSync

In light of the David Petraeus scandal, we learned that an existing law enacted in 1986 allows law enforcement entitties to obtain your entire cloud based storage without a warrant.  This means that your information is only as secure as the third party deems it to be private.  If they want to give it up, there is no law to stop them.

Dropbox is a cloud storage and sync program that allows syncing between computers and access to files while on the road.  I have used this service and program for a few years and have written out instructions on how to create one’s own cloud of ebooks using Dropbox.  However, Dropbox, like Gmail is a cloud based service who may provide your information to the government without a warrant.  I wanted to see if there were easy but safer methods to create a private and personal cloud.

The answer is yes, but none that are as easy and full featured as Dropbox.

Tonido-AppTonido

Description:

Tonido offers remote access to all the files on your computer. This worked without much configuration.

Tonido also offers a sync feature however there are limits of 2GB for the free version and 100GB for the Pro version.  The Pro version costs $39 and allows 100GB of synced data per year.  It’s hard to say whether you will run up against the 100GB limit but you will easily surpass the 2GB limit per year.

 

So long as the Tonido software is running and your main “server” computer is connected to the internet, the files would be accessible via mobile app or web browser.  For syncing, you designate a “Sync” folder, much like Dropbox, and then Tonido will sync that folder with any other computer that has Tonido installed.

Platforms: Windows OS, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Blackberry and W7

Pros:

Tonido sync is private and resides solely on your computers.    Out of all the programs I tried, this was the cheapest and easiest and because your computer serves as the could, a safe and secure option.

Cons:

This requires a computer to be on all the time and connected to the internet.  While I tested this program, my computer would go to sleep and the network access would be off.  Further, you are limited to 100GB of transfer per year at a cost of $39.


Spider Oak APpSpiderOak

Description:

SpiderOak is mentioned time and again as a secure option to Dropbox.  From your site, SpiderOak’s system cannot expose your personal information to anyone even under a government subpoena while still allowing syncing, sharing, and accessing of data from anywhere.

You can get 2GB for free or 100GB  for $10 per month or $100 per year.

While the data is uploaded and transferred, SpiderOak encrypts the data.  The key is your password that you create when you create an account; however, the password is never shared with SpiderOak and they can never reset it.  This isn’t a bug, but a feature.

Platforms:  Windows OS, Mac OS, Linux,  Android, iOS, N900  Maemo

Pros:

The concept is great.  You can sync between devices without the company ever knowing or seeing your data.  It’s a free option and combined with Tonido provides you with essentially the same access as dropbox at no cost.  Further, it does not require a special folder for sync. You can set up as many syncs as you like, no matter where the files reside on your computer. As a backup program, it works just fine. You can use the existing file structure of your computers.

Cons:

I found the SpiderOak software frustrating and confusing. Syncing requires you to first back up the folder and then you need to go to the other computer and create the same folder and back up the new folder before SpiderOak would allow you to sync the two folders.  Thus you could not create a folder and save files outside an already created “Sync” set up and have the remote computer create the same folder.

A sync I set up actually deleted files. I could not get the Sync to delete.  Syncing was definitely not effortless.I found several people complaining in the help section about deleted files.   Unfortunately ease of use was low so while it might be the most secure, it’s not the easiest to use.

Cubby AppCubby

Description:

Cubby is a service provided by LogMeIn.  LogMeIn is famous for its networked conference abilities and ease of use remote access but it has never been cheap.  Cubby has two components: a cloud component and a direct sync component.  You can back up  to 100 GB of storage for $6.99 per month (or $3.99 beta pricing).

 Like SpiderOak, Cubby provides you a way to directly bypass cloud services to sync your devices.  Cubby in conjunction with Tonido allows you Dropbox like access and syncing capabilities but it comes at a cost.  It is quite a bit cheaper than Dropbox which is $9.99 per month for comparable space.
Platforms:  Windows OS, Mac OS, Android, iOS

Pros:

Cubby allows “Direct Sync” between computers if you purchase the “pro” version.  DirectSync is like Tonido and SpiderOak in that it bypasses the cloud entirely and allows your files to be synced peer to peer or from computer to computer.   Additionally, you can keep the same file structure. When you drag a file into Cubby, it does not move the file around on your computer, but preserves the file structure.

Cons:

 To access the DirectSync feature, you have to purchase the pro version even if you have no desire to use the cloud. LogMeIn has always been a premium priced product so I would be worried the price of access would creep up.  Sync can take a very long time.  Cubby recommends seeding the remote computer by transferring the initial set of files via a USB or some other manual piece of memory.

GoodSync AppGoodSync

Description:

GoodSync is a simple but powerful sychronization tool.  Used in conjunction with Tonido, you can have a Dropbox like setup.  GoodSync uses a block-level transfer to allow to computers running Goodsync to match files.  “With block-level transfers, only the parts of a file are transferred that differ. When GoodSync identifies a file that has been updated or changed it calculates the exact binary data within that file and sends only the changed information. This way each file transfer only passes the data required to update the destination file. A normal file transfer would send the entire file, even if only small parts of the file have changed.”

Platforms:  Windows OS, Mac OS,  Android, iOS

Pros:

For a one time fee of $39.95 (on sale at the time of writing this post for $31.95), GoodSync provides secure synchronization between as many computers that run Goodsync.

Cons:

It’s not free and requires some customization and setup.

 Summary

 Unfortunately, there is nothing as secure as SpiderOak and Tonido that is as easy to use as Dropbox. Dropbox is dead simple. Install the program, designate the Dropbox folder and the rest is done for you automatically.  If you want something more secure it will take some money and some effort.
Rating by ease of use:
  1. Tonido
  2. Cubby
  3. GoodSync
  4. SpiderOak
Rating by cost
  1. SpiderOak
  2. GoodSync
  3. Tonido
  4. Cubby

I’m interested in the Tonido plug.  Some users have installed Calibre on it.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

34 Comments

  1. Brian
    Dec 23, 2012 @ 11:19:16

    Another solution that might be worth looking into is the Lacie Cloudbox. A 3TB setup is only $179 and you have your own private cloud.

    http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?id=10597

  2. Roundup: Reviews, Holiday Guests, New Releases, Bargains, Giveaways and a Winner - Fiction Vixen Book Reviews
    Dec 23, 2012 @ 12:01:58

    […] I feel better. Jane at Dear Author has posted some good information on different choices for secure cloud storage […]

  3. jeayci
    Dec 23, 2012 @ 13:00:18

    My compromise between ease and security was to set up BoxCryptor on my computer with the files I want to sync and keep secure, and sync that with Dropbox. I’ve also looked into setting up a TrueCrypt container and syncing that, but it’s a bit more involved (though probably also a bit more secure) than BoxCryptor.

    I just do that for the files I care about securing, which keeps me within the limits of what they offer free. I used Box.com and Box Sync for everything else, so all my cloud storage is free and automatically synced with my computer (and my laptop and Android devices).

  4. Rosario
    Dec 24, 2012 @ 01:21:40

    I’m probably being really immature here, but “law enforcement entitties” made me snigger a bit! :-D

  5. Loosheesh
    Dec 24, 2012 @ 09:22:19

    @Rosario: Yay, company! =D

  6. cecilia
    Dec 24, 2012 @ 12:52:41

    @Rosario: Me, too!

  7. GeorgeV
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 20:51:21

    Is there an open source solution for syncing between computers? I mean it would be great to have something with a nice interface that can sync between your PC’s or smartphones to your own “cloud-PC”.

  8. GeorgeV
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 20:52:34

    @jeayci:

    You can also use Boxcryptor with Google Drive now:

    https://www.boxcryptor.com/labs/

  9. Antony
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 22:55:54

    How come you didn’t include AeroFS into your review?

  10. Jane
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 23:28:30

    @Antony: It is not a program familiar to me.

    @GeorgeV: I don’t know of one.

  11. Brian Watters
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 04:08:06

  12. Trish
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 10:49:48

    I use GoodSync and I have to say it is a lot faster than cloud backup options. It only syncs parts of the file that have changed, like you quoted, which is awesome.

    Trish

  13. Jerry
    Jan 02, 2013 @ 06:55:16

    You should definitely check out SyncBlaze from Vembu.
    http://www.syncblaze.com

    It is basically designed for business users and offered through Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and Resellers. It also comes in two editions: the Cloud edition and the On-premise edition.

  14. Utku
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 04:04:32

    Great Article Jane! Have you came across Amazon Glacier and what it has to offer for online backing up and archiving? I’ve been also evaluating a service called Zoolz to use the Glacier Cloud. Would love if you could have a scoop on this!

  15. Jane
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 09:37:30

    @Utku: I haven’t but I’ve got a list of others (from the comments here) to try out.

  16. Phillip Blake
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 18:20:12

    You can actually set up a folder to act exactly as a dropbox folder using GoodSync without any other program like Tonido if you use local storage, or sync to any third party cloud storage service other than Tonido. The reason I use GoodSync is because I can access both local and cloud storage with one program, GoodSync gives me more control and more useful features than any other backup assistant.

  17. Stu
    Feb 05, 2013 @ 04:54:17

    Anyone wishing to try out Spideroak and get an extra free 1GB for life are welcome to use my referral link: https://spideroak.com/download/referral/d26c5d8296ff3a9df4dbffcb03577f0b

  18. Al
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 23:23:45

    A new cloud storage service is available from copy . com

    sign up with referral link & get 10 GB for free

    https://copy.com?r=xu22E1

  19. opensas
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 20:26:42

    There’s a new multiplatform alternative to dropbox, Copy

    You start with 5GB, but if you use this link you’ll get 10GB

    https://copy.com?r=eIIYox

    Plus 2GB if you twit about it. For a limited promotional offer, for each referral you’ll get another 5GB (So go ahead and use the link so we both get out 5GB)

  20. Nicolas
    May 05, 2013 @ 07:30:46

    Hi,

    Look into http://www.wuala.com. This is a branch of LaCie, the external-HDD builder, and like the cloudbox mentionned above, it is high-quality swiss software. Very good, very complete, quite fast, works with your local password (they can’t open your files) and submitted to european privacy laws, meaning there remains a chance that CIA (whose legal mission includes getting hold of non-US info and handing it to US-gov, and who is one of Google’s main customers) cannot get hold of your data or industrial secrets too easily. (I’m not affiliated, only a happy user, also of DropBox, Cubby, and I tried a few others that did not make it…).
    Have fun, N.

  21. Keith
    May 06, 2013 @ 15:51:26

    Thru has an enterprise dropbox that can replace unsecure consumer Dropbox accounts with something that the end users will love and find very convenient.

    You should check it out.

    http://www.thruinc.com/solutions/secure-dropbox/

  22. tom
    May 07, 2013 @ 21:44:23

    register and install copy get free 10GB. No limit free space with referral.
    https://copy.com?r=APkPHN

  23. Randall Bateman
    May 15, 2013 @ 13:44:54

    I tried Goodsync – way too expensive if computers not on same network. They make you buy a license for EACH computer.
    Simple free solution: Synctoy and Remote Desktop (RDP) – works great, fast, free, and all from microsoft without cloud services (no risk of data being on or sent through others servers).

  24. Sarah
    May 21, 2013 @ 14:40:45

    Hey guys,

    during my studium i have tested some online storage providers.
    The best provider I can recommend is – like the comments above – copy.com

    >What brings it to you:
    – free 20 GB online storage + 5 GB for every referral (no limit upwards :) )
    – easy to use website
    – secure file transfer per https

    >Secure your Data:
    It’s very easy to use, even if you want to secure and encrypt your private data. For encryption i use encFS. It’s very powerfull and it can also mask the filenames. Alternatively you can use the tool Boxcryptor, it’s very easy to use. Both programms are available for all kind of systems (Win, Linux, and mobile systems) So don’t reveal your private data with anyone

    If this tipp helps you, please be so kind and use my link for +5GB for both of us :)

    >My link:
    https://copy.com?r=KrGnKF

    Thank you ;)

  25. binom
    Jun 29, 2013 @ 04:10:33

    There is another free dropbox alternative

    http://www.binomsoftware.com/index.php/binprods

    It also allows having the files with the versions

  26. HH
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 16:49:46

    Alternative to DropBox is Copy! that offer 20Gb of free storage, the upload and download speed are like Dropbox and faster from all alternative that I can find (Gdrive, SkyDrive, Box)
    if you want to get 20Gb, register from this link:
    https://copy.com?r=wV8Kv0

  27. Mikeyd
    Aug 02, 2013 @ 09:57:40

    @GeorgeV:

    Owncloud. Not the fastest UI though. Must be hosted.

  28. superdude1
    Aug 16, 2013 @ 09:53:24

    Copy.com is a new cloud storage service (est. 2013) and is absolutely amazing! Compared to other similar free products

    (box, dropbox, skydrive, google drive, Ubuntu One, Sugar Sync), copy offers much more GB storage for free! Plus its features are essentially the same as dropbox!

    So how does GB storage does Copy offer? Copy is offering a temporary promotion deal of 15 GB starting out, and +5 GB for anyone you invite! Both you and the invitee get +5 GB, so if you download from my link:

    https://copy.com?r=kzyjno

    you get 20 GB instead of 15 GB starting out (and I get +5 GB too)! Compare this to dropbox’s 2 GB starting out, +500 MB (0.5 GB) per invite. Or compare it to SkyDrives 7GB, Google Drive’s 15GB, Box’s 5 GB (they had a promotion for 50 GB starting out, but no longer. Get onto copy’s limited promotion deal!). This deal won’t last forever, plus there’s NO limit to how many invites you can have! Remember this is all FREE! Some users have 1 TB of cloud storage purely from invites! So

    if you want 20 GB starting out, and found my analysis useful, use my link :]

    https://copy.com?r=kzyjno

    And who doesn’t like free cloud storage? It gives a means to sync our data to various computers, iphones / android

    devices, and more! Plus it backs up all of our files, while encrypted onto a secure network. Quote “Files are transferred

    using SSL and according to Copy’s support staff encrypted on their servers as well.”

    P.S. You should still use dropbox for any older programs since Copy.com uses a newer, and dropbox is much more compatible

    with pre-existing , older software. Copy is better off used as a personal storage / backing center and dropbox is still

    better for working on group projects.

    Also copy is compatible with iOS and Android as well!

  29. Pol Talk
    Aug 25, 2013 @ 04:41:49

    I found that a new cloud storage service called copy is doing a really great job. It has a great desktop client app as well as mobile apps for iOs and Android. Also, 15 GB of storage space is free!

    If you like to check it out, sing in and receive 20 GB (instead of standard 15 GB) you can use the referral link:

    https://copy.com?r=wK6EjL

  30. Jens
    Sep 20, 2013 @ 11:52:01

    Copy (copy.com) is no more secure than Dropbox. Read the privacy terms in which they distinctly write that they will collect your information and share it with third parties. They will also disclose all your information to authorities if asked.

    SpiderOak on the other hand is much more secure. Data is encrypted before it hits their cloud and they do not have the key to decrypt it. So they can not share it with anyone and even government agencies will not get access.

    The pricing on Copy is attractive if you don’t care about security, but since the original question was about something more secure than Dropbox, Copy is not really an answer.

  31. raMZES
    Sep 23, 2013 @ 14:26:02

    https://copy.com?r=YK3Jvy

    1. Register.
    2. Confirm e-mail
    3. Install the application.

    20 Gig “in the pocket”

  32. Claude
    Jan 03, 2014 @ 05:32:36

    I also user https://copy.com?r=pJPMgQ
    to sync all my data across all my devices. It is perfect for my situation. If You use my referal link, You will get 20 GB of free space.

  33. Steel Reign
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 17:22:21

    Wow the copy.com bot took this over.

    I have not seen anyone mention btsync. BTSync allows for unlimited sync and backup of anything you want anywhere from computer to mobile devices and the only limit of sync or storage space is the size of the hard drive you have install on the host machine ans its 100% free.

    http://www.bittorrent.com/sync

  34. Jordain
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 17:09:04

    BTsync is really great. Maybe just one drawback, it is closed solution.
    I would prefer something like OwnCloud. This is open source (no backdoors).
    There is even solution for non technical folks called Wingubo.
    It is hassle free, though costs some bucks.

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