Dropbox alternatives?

As many of you will be aware, I am a keen user of Dropbox. However, the latest bit of great-fire-wallery here is that they seem to have blocked Dropbox. It has been impossible to access my dropbox from either of my computers, and even their internet page is inaccessible. Unbelievable! Well perhaps not, as they block other sites like www.qdea.org, the download site for Synchronize! Pro X …

Anyway, can anyone suggest an alternative (free!), which will allow me to synchronise my two computers with equal grace and dignity? I have an iDisk, but it’s not as elegant, and I have only used it for more or less archive purposes.


How free and how dropbox like does it need to be?

I searched for “DropBox alternative” and came up with this quick list (disclaimer, I haven’t really looked too deeply into these to see how alike they are, biased toward free):

  1. http://www.syncplicity.com/
  2. https://spideroak.com/download/promo/supportus/
  3. A few around here have already mentioned Mozy, which gives you the same amount of storage as DropBox for free: mozy.com/home
  4. SugarSync is the same idea, I think, but costs $50/year.

For more alternatives, try the excellent website, alternativeto.net

I’m also a big fan of Dropbox, but use it only for accessing work related content from PC and laptop. Am currently storing my Scriv story content on there but will probably remove it soon because I want to avoid any possible corruptions (paranoia maybe?) even though I won’t be accessing it elsewhere.

+1 for http://alternativeto.net/


In this blog post:
David Hewson praises SugarSync. Not free, though, as Ioa says.



if you have problems with firewall settings, this one may not really help, but you could give it a try:

www.sugarsync.com works pretty much similar to dropbox

Hope that helps,



maybe nobody has mentioned Wuala, a very similar service with more emphasis on security (they don’t keep your password, so it’s only to you don’t lose it); they offer 1 GB for free and 10 GB for 15 euro / 25 usd a year (and more, as you can check by yourself):


All the best,

That is an interesting looking service, thanks for bringing it up here. Especially interesting is the ability to trade up local drive space for network space. I haven’t read too much on the site, but in some places, it almost sounds as though it is patterned after the Freenet model (though hopefully more optimised away from layers of anonymising packets and such, reducing access speeds), where everyone stores of bit of everyone else’s data so that it never suffers from centralisation and thus the possibility for restriction and censorship.

What it does seem to lack is a local mirror? The service gets attached as a network drive, which is seamless enough, but anyone that has worked on a network drive (especially one that is attached over the Internet) knows that it is far from fast. There is indication that it might just be using networking protocols internally to provide access to local data which cannot otherwise be accessed with a file manager. In that case it would still be slower, but probably not at a rate that would be noticed for everyday tasks.

cachefs has it’s own issues though. Particularly troublesome to us has been the idea that mirroring is only optimized for “current access” or “total access”. then again, most folks probably aren’t trying to to cachefs at the sizes we are looking at.

Thanks for all the advice, folks. It’s taken me time to reply as I’ve been going through all the suggestions, particularly as expanded by Alternativeto. Other aspects that I didn’t point out are that on
Dropbox I have a couple of shared folders, one with my wife, one set up only the day before the wall came down with a former-student friend here, and I was just trying to get colleagues with whom I work closely to install Dropbox and set up a shared folder for all of us. That, as far as I could see ruled out a fair number of them.

@Jaysen, free meant free because if it’s a paid for service, it would be my wife who was paying for it not me. And while SugarSync seemed very attractive and not that expensive, it would preclude sharing with my friend as she would have problems paying for SugarSync and I could not do that with my wife’s money; same basically goes for colleagues.

@Amber/Ioa, I had to reject Syncplicity out of hand, as, as far as I could see, it’s Windows only.

In the end, I have gone for SpiderOak — so thanks Amber/Ioa — though I have to say that setting it up is showing how elegant and simple Dropbox is in comparison. On the other hand, it is more powerful in encryption terms and does seem to have a few other tricks up its sleeve. It’s going to be more difficult to get my wife, friends and colleagues to set it up, though, as none of them are that computer-savvy.


Hmm, curious … this BB software seems to think that where a line in the editing pane begins with a capital letter, it must be the beginning of a new paragraph!

Mr X,

Free is not always free, but hopefully your free is actually free.

I have not looked at the software, but if you need someone to help others I would be happy to lend a remote hand if it would help.

Thanks Jaysen. SpiderOak gives you 2 GB of storage for free and the app is free. Thereafter, USD 10 per month gets you 100 GB more and you can go on adding.

The difference is in the interface, which is not exactly Mac-like. I guess the developers are Linux people who have ported it to OS-X and Windows, as well as a mort of varieties of Linux, but on the Mac at least are just providing what I presume to be a Linux-style windowing interface.

Unlike Dropbox, where you just run the app, and it silently sets up the folder which will be synced with the cloud-space, so you don’t have to do anything more and it just works, with SpiderOak, you have to choose the folder or folders you wish to back-up to the cloud on each of the machines yourself, and then separately set up syncing between those folders on each machine which you want to keep synced. Not so elegant, but more powerful in that they can be any folders on any machine which is connected, not just the one special folder as set up by Dropbox. Also, the encryption is not just done during transmission, it’s done on the client machine, so the files stored on the SpiderOak server(s) are encrypted, not plain text. So I hope that once I’ve got it fully set up, it will be equally transparent, but it’s not when first installed.


Ok, update … now that I’ve got SpiderOak up-and-running, in terms of backing-up and syncing folders between my MBP and MBA, it looks like it’s going to work like Dropbox for me … for the moment. But there are two provisos:

  1. It’s not as “silent” as Dropbox, because it doesn’t have a standard Mac interface, so as long as it’s running the window is persistent … you can minimise it, but can’t hide it. I’ve never really gone a bundle on minimising, so my solution is to learn to love “Spaces”. I tried Spaces when it was first made available, but found it totally confusing and not really helpful. But now I can use it. I work in Space 1 and I’ve put SpiderOak in Space 2 … I can get to the window if I need to by changing spaces, but otherwise it’s out of the way.
  2. It still doesn’t have the “shared folders” à la Dropbox; it has a sharing system, but it’s more like the “Public” or “Photo” folders on Dropbox … no synchronising a folder between separate accounts. They said 5 months ago that it was coming in about a month, but it seems it’s still not there. I understand it’s to do with the encryption system where the servers don’t store the key … they’re held on the client machine only, so different client account machines have different keys …
    But in the meantime, for me, it looks like it’s going to be good for my own personal needs, and I can use other routes for getting stuff to my wife. For my friends, I think SpiderOak’s sharing system is going to be good enough for the moment.

I’ve recently been playing with ZumoDrive. It works a lot like dropbox, and it integrates nicely with OS X. You get 1 gig free, but they’ll up that to 2 gigs if you go through the tutorial.


It turns out that Atlantic columnist James Fallows is a Scrivener user. He likes SugarSync:
theatlantic.com/science/arch … tes/57437/


Interesting, but I’m not going to change from SpiderOak. SpiderOak ticks all the important boxes that SugarSync does, apart from the more “social networking” aspects with photos, and a more restricted file-sharing system than SS or Dropbox. The reason is simple … SpiderOak’s zero-knowledge security system currently makes it impossible. I’m very happy with it; it’s biggest drawback as far as I’m concerned is the non-Mac-like, Linux-like, interface, but then, now it’s up and running and in Space 2, I never actually really need to look at it …

Oh, and apart from the free 2GB of space – I don’t see anything on the SugarSync site about free space … merely a button to set up a free trial version – if you want to buy more, it’s cheaper than SugarSync … $10/month for 100GB as opposed to $15.