The Cloud File Sharing Race

Who is winning the cloud storage race? The list is long and distinguished. Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive and Box are the big five. Ubuntu One, Amazon Cloud Drive, Sugarsync, Hightail, and OwnCloud trail a list of lesser-known or perhaps lesser-used services. In terms of popularity, Dropbox still heads the list, mainly since it is the early innovator. iCloud leans heavily on Apple’s products. Google Drive is gaining market share.

In terms of my experience, I use Dropbox most of the time when sharing or transferring files. However, when creating new documents, I use Google Drive exclusively because the tools are there. When security is a concern, I tend to use OwnCloud. I do have OneDrive, iCloud, Ubuntu One, but I use them sparingly. Do I need more? Probably, not. I think having more than three services is overkill, but it’s nice to have options.

What’s your favorite? Who do you think is the best? Who will survive and who will not?

Upgrading ownCloud

Are you looking for a Dropbox alternative? Try ownCloud. Dropbox and ownCloud are both free as well as a paid service. The main difference between the two is that you can run ownCloud from your own server. Like Dropbox, you can access ownCloud from your browser, desktop or smartphone. The ownCloud server software runs on any server, mine runs on Ubuntu Linux, and it doesn’t require special permissions.

The latest version is ownCloud version 6. I was still running on version 4.5. So, the following instructions will upgrade your ownCloud to the latest version on the Ubuntu server. If you have large amounts of data, it would be wise to backup your ownCloud directories. If you don’t have many files, you can opt for a clean install.

Go to your ownCloud directory.

cd owncloud

Delete everything except for data and config. You will most likely need sudo to delete your files. I opted for a clean install, so I deleted everything.

ls | grep -v 'data\|config' | sudo xargs rm -r

Download ownCloud. Since I did a clean install, I went up one directory level.

cd ..
wget http://download.owncloud.org/community/owncloud-latest.tar.bz2

Unpack the tarball. It will create a new directory ‘owncloud.’

sudo tar xfj owncloud-latest.tar.bz2

Give it write permissions. By default, the owncloud files are owned by nobody. So, you might see an error message saying it needs write permissions to ‘owncloud/data.’ I changed the ownership of the files to Apache, which is www-data.

sudo chown www-data:www-data -R owncloud

Access ownCloud by opening up your web browser and going to your ownCloud URL. If you did a clean install, you will be asked to create a new admin username and password. Otherwise, enter your former credentials. Finally, download the desktop clients as well as the mobile apps and install on your devices.

Synch your files and have fun.

Dropbox Pro Doubles In Size

If you’re a Dropbox Pro user, your storage space should double by the end of the day, according to a ZDNet report. There are no current plans for increases to regular Dropbox users.

Pro 50 users should double their storage from 50GB to 100GB by the end of the day. Pro 50 users typically pay $9.99 per month or 99.99 per year.

Pro 100 users will also double their storage from 100GB to 200GB. Pro 100 users typically pay 19.99 per month or 199.99 per year.

The increase of storage is the direct result of stiff competition from other cloud storage vendors who are offering more to outdo each other.

Box, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Ubuntu One are all competing for this potentially huge market.

Google Drive 5GB For Free

Based on rumors, it looks like Google will release a new service called Google Drive in a couple of weeks. Google Drive will compete with Dropbox, iCloud, Box and host of other online storage and collaboration services.

The word on the street is, Google Drive users will receive 5GB for free, a much higher value than previously anticipated. Potentially, Google can sweeten the deal by making the integration of its other services a key selling point.

Integration with GMail and Google Docs can take Google Drive over the top above other competitors. I would pay to see Google Docs having the ability to save files on Google Drive. If Google were to allow such a thing, it would be an instant hit.

What a combo that will be.

Secure Your Dropbox Folder

If you are a Dropbox user, you might want to check your public folders. You might be inadvertantly sharing documents and photos with the rest of the world. By default, when you install Dropbox, there are two public folders that are publicly searcheable by search engines.

The most obvious shared folder is Public. That’s a no brainer. To my surprise, anything under the Photos folder is also searcheable by search engines. Here’s my case in point. Open this link. You will see thousands of search results of Dropbox users and their photos.

If you are going to use Dropbox to store photos and documents, do not use the Public and Photos folder. Unless you want to share it with the rest of the world. Place your photos and other documents in a separate folders instead.

If you want to share photos and documents, it’s better to share it privately with individuals, as opposed to having everyone access to your files. Credit to ghacks.net. Check out the comments on that article as well.

Ubuntu One 5GB Free Storage

If you’re looking for more cloud storage online, check out Ubuntu One, a cloud service that allows you to store files, share content with 5GB storage for free. And you don’t need to have Ubuntu to take advantage of its services. But, that defeats the advantage of syncing files with your Ubuntu desktop or your mobile phone. Another advantage the ability to sync your Tomboy Notes and Firefox bookmarks.

Ubuntu One has additional paid services. You can get an additional 20GB of storage for just $2.99 per month or 29.99 per year. Music streaming is another service priced at $3.99 per month or $39.99.  In comparison, Dropbox gives you 2GB of free cloud storage. For $9.99 per month, you can get 50GB of additional storage. Dropbox to its credit, is available on PC, Macs and in Linux. Ubuntu One is only available for Ubuntu and smart phones.

Since I’m a Ubuntu user, it’s all good.

Dropbox Accidentally Turned Off Passwords

Dropbox accidentally turned off the password feature on their file sharing service last Sunday from 4:54pm until 8:41pm. The file sharing service was eventually restored and secured at 8:46pm. Between those times, anyone can access any of the 25 million Dropbox accounts by simply typing in a random string of characters in the password field. Dropbox said, less than 1 percent of the accounts were accessed at that time period and will continue to investigate if any accounts were compromised.

It just shows you that online services such as Dropbox, and social sites such as Facebook and Twitter are not 100% secure. If you’re concerned about the security, then you shouldn’t really place any highly sensitive information on any of the online services. If you must, then you should use the highest encryption standard you can find. I recommend that you use AES-256 encryption. If you’re a Windows user, you can use the popular compression program called 7Zip. For Linux or Ubuntu users, you will find more information here in this forum.

Get Extra Space from Dropbox

Dropbox is one my all-time favorite application. The file sharing application gives you the ability to synch several computers by simply dropping a file to a folder. All your other computers (Windows, Mac or Linux) that have Dropbox installed, will synchronize automatically and get the updated files.

When you join Dropbox, you probably selected a free account that came with 2GB of disk space. To increase space, you can refer friends, family and others to join Dropbox and you and your friend will get an additional 250MB of space. I’ve referred several friends and now have 4.38GB. It’s nothing compared to someone I read online that had 17GB.

While referral is great, there’s another easy way of getting extra space from Dropbox. If you connect your Twitter account with Dropbox, you’ll get an additional 128MB. If you connect with Facebook, it’s another 128MB. If you follow @Dropbox on Twitter, it’s another 128MB.

If you tweet how much you love Dropbox, it’s another 128MB. Hence, my tweet about Dropbox the other night. All in all, if you do all of the above, you’ll get an additional 640MB of free disk space. Mind you, these are services that you already have, since most people already have Facebook and Twitter accounts. All you have to do is activate your free disk space.

To get your free space, just login to Dropbox and access Dropbox for free. One more thing, if you haven’t joined Dropbox yet, use this link to join. You and I will get an additional 250MB for using that link.

Dropbox on the Phone

Dropbox is now accessible via your phone. The message from Dropbox.

Hi,

Have you ever wanted to use your Dropbox but didn’t have a computer nearby? Dropbox’s mobile website (http://m.dropbox.com) makes it happen. With Dropbox mobile, you can browse and open files in your Dropbox directly from your phone or mobile device’s browser.

If you own an iPhone or iPod Touch, download the Dropbox App for an even better experience. It’s free!

Do you own a Blackberry or Android phone? Don’t worry! We’ve got plenty more mobile magic coming soon!

Happy syncing!
-The Dropbox Team