Archives for posts with tag: dropbox

I have now tested four different services. All giving me access to my files from my iPhone. Though not all support Linux – which is a major drawback.

Dropbox

The most familiar site, and the one I have used for years. I’d say that Dropbox may be the simplest of them all. You have a dedicated folder, and whatever you want to keep in the cloud, you place this folder. It cannot be simpler. Version control online, allowing you to restore an older version of a file. 2 GB of free storage. $9.99/50GB and $19.99/100GB per month.  $99 per year for 50GB is just that – $99. Shave a bit off, and a wider market may open up.

ZumoDrive

Just discovered this. Instead of a folder, you get a mapped network drive. It is just as simple as Dropbox , but it comes with another feature: it allows you to sync whatever folder you have on your computer, without moving them to the ZumoDrive. You link them to your ZumoDrive, and the folders are automatically synced. The linked folders are placed in a folder structure by its computer and folder name. Quite nice. Of course you may also use the ZumoDrive the same ways as Dropbox , by placing files and folders directly on the drive. Their pricing is more complex; they give 2GB for free, and 50GB is priced same as Dropbox.

ZumoDrive’s iPhone app is also better integrated than Dropbox’. It has potential – if their known bugs are fixed. I am getting a bit tired of their 500 ERROR on their website as well…

SugarSync

This provider is somewhat different. You do get your multiple(!) folder structure which you can work directly in, but it is not intuitive – or let me say – not as simple as Dropbox or ZumoDrive. It comes with an application which lets you get full overview. I believe by learning how SugarSync works, might prove more feature full than the others. But I need to test more. They do provide 5GB free account, which is the biggest of them all. Their paid plan is cheaper than Dropbox; or they give you 60 GB for $99 a year. They also have a 30GB for $4.99/month. Unfortunately, they do not have Linux support.

Ubuntu One

Is a service provided from Canonical, which currently have the most populare Linux distro; Ubuntu – a Debian distro. It gives you 2 GB free storage, and is designed to integrate into your Gnome Nautilus file explorer. It also have a paid plan, which is surprisingly pricy. It also sport a Music shop which is a nice twist. It integrates well into Banshee Media player. I have not used Linux in a while, but did create my Ubuntu One account some time ago. However, as Dropbox also works flawlessly on Linux, and given that it is a rather new and somewhat unstable service, I have yet to stress test it.  They also want’s to be paid in order to use their iPhone app… which is a showstopper. At least if you plan syncing your mp3 collection and streaming them to your iPhone.

Conclusion

I dare not say one is better than the other. All provide an easy web interface. All have an iPhone app which let’s you gain access to all your stuff. Try them out, and see which one fits you best. I am doing this now, cause I am not quite sure if I dare building my own backup NAS. There may also be several other nice alternatives, but these are the ones I currently have installed on my computer.

I believe the ZumoDrive is the first real alternative to Dropbox. And their iPhone app rules! It also creates a mapped network drive instead of a folder, as Dropbox does. Their pricing is also more friendly – and that is important – at least for me!

My Iomega Home Media NAS made some funny noises the other day. I am getting scared that my only copy of digital music, and my backup of photos needs a new storage place! And how cool wouldn’t it be if this was in the Cloud!

I need 50+GB, so let’s see if ZumoDrive can give Dropbox a challenge.

Microsofts Skydrive may be one of the best free cloud services out there today; at least when it comes to storage. Currently it offers 25GB, and no other provider is matching this (at the time I wrote this). Being a fan of Dropbox for some years, which also keeps a local copy on my harddrive, it will be hard for SkyDrive to put Dropbox aside as my preferred cloud service.

I’d like to keep a backup of all my photos, and measuring 16+GB and steadily increasing, I need more than the 2-5GB that Dropbox, BOX and other providers give for free. SkyDrive provides storage so why not use it!

I had trouble mapping the SkyDrive manually to Explorer; it simply did not allow other file types than Office files.

SkyDrive Explorer solved these issues. It is a freeware which easily gives access to your SkyDrive in a familiar GUI; Windows Explorer. So interfacing is no problem. And it transfer whatever you give it!

So far, it seems to run smoothly. There is a small lag, but it is acceptable. I guess this may be due to a low outgoing bitrate. I will have to test is more in order to see if it works properly, but as far as I can see, other reviewers online likes it as well.

The cloud service that Ubuntu offers pre-installed in their latest 10.04 Lucid works as it should. It works.

But – what the heck – they do NOT encrypt the data stored in the cloud!? In reality, that means that who ever has access to the server may read my plain non-encrypted files. Ugh – what a show stopper!

Dropbox did offer encryption on their service. Well, I don’t think you could chose not to use it, but even so, several of us did not feel 100% safe. I have written about this earlier:

http://firmit.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/encfs-mount-over-nonempty-mount-point/
http://firmit.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/truecrypt-virtual-encrypted/
http://firmit.wordpress.com/2008/10/27/dropbox-without-nautilusgnome/

In reality that was double security – and that felt good! Making an encrypted folder to sync to the cloud have even more merit together with Ubuntu One! Yes, you will loose the option of publishing your files for easy sharing and access to your friends… or?

With Lucid, Ubuntu One allows you to specify which folders to sync to your cloud account. So it should be fairly straight forward to keep one folder encrypted with highly personal data and one folder for sharing data – why not just use the default Public folder?! I am rather amazed that Ubuntu One does not support encryption by default.

At least I feel a lot more calm knowing my files are encrypted.

Well – I must admit it looks nice. I do not like the fact that they change GUI for each release, albeit the last releases has not been big in that respect. But moving the close/maximize buttons to mimic Leopard is a bit to much in my eyes. It takes some getting used to.

Ubuntu One is suppose to give you a cloud based storing facility where you may sync files etc to multiple computers. This is a real competitor to Dropbox, and I suspect new Ubuntu-converts will start using this rather than Dropbox. Existing Dropbox users may find their existing cloud-sharing application to be very good, and like me, might be reluctant to convert to Ubuntu One.

I do welcome the Lucid Lynx! It looks nicer out of the box than I can remember. It boots rather quickly – I’d expect it has reached the 7.04 booting time again (finally). I have not experienced the usual issues with sound, skype etc. I even got my DagMagic external DAC to work via USB without any troubles. I just needed to manually select which device to give sound output to.

Spotify does loose it sound capabilities when I fiddle with Wine or the sound configuration – rather annoying really, but I can live with it. Only thing not working is to connect to work with a Citrix client – this has worked before so I might need to investigate more.

All in all – kudos to Canonical!

An interesting application caught my eye the other day. As the Acer laptop I installed SliTaz on, is currently working beyond my wildest expectation, it would be a shame if all the work stored on it suddenly got lost. So – I was looking for some sort of backup solution. Of course, Dropbox works like a charm. But there exists other solutions too; rsync may be the most popular cli-tool using a cron-job to sync regularly.

With Box Backup, you set up a server, generate a CA – secure certificate – which you “give” (copy) to the client. The client is the computer which you would like to keep a backup of. You install the client, register an account on the server, install the certificate on the client, choose a pass-phrase which generates a secure key for you – which is used for encrypting the backup data! The data is then transfered via your LAN (if you have personal server setup for this), or the web, to a host providing this service.

So – I now have three options: rsync using a cron job, dropbox and box backup. I think the added feature of getting to the files online is superiour. At least if you use seveal computers regularly.

In my journey in the GNU/Linux world, I am always look to adapt good ideas, and to embrace excellent GNU/FOSS software. If it for some reason is not open source, it needs to be really good, and fit my needs and expectations to the fullest – i.e. Opera, Dropbox, Picasa and Google Earth.

The last couple of days, I have found two excellent softwares, one being “free speech” and the other being “free beer” – TrueCrypt and DropBox.

TrueCrypt
Is a one of them things you just gotta love! It is a piece of software that let’s you create a virtual encrypted file system within a file. For a normal user, this is transparent. You create a file, specify which algorithm to use, set a looong password, and then you mount the file as a volume. In this way, you may store sensitive information encrypted on your computer. Given the use of a file container to hold this virtual filesystem, you may transport, copy the file and mount it on another computer just as easy as mounting an external harddrive.

Applications of TrueCrypt
I discovered TrueCrypt when browsing the Dropbox forum. There I came across a discussion about the security of the Dropbox account. Dropbox uses SSL to send and recieve files from your computer to the Dropbox account. Dropbox then uses the Amazon S3 storing service to host your files. The files itself, and your entire account, is encrypted with AES on the server.

However, the discussion was mainly about where the AES key was located – at Dropbox or at Amazon. Either way – somebody may have access to your uploaded files, so the need for encrypted files gave spring to the solution of using TrueCrypt localy and uploading this file.

Dropbox+TrueCrypt

First of all – Dropbox is in beta, and their license is “AS IS”. If they run out of funds, or for some reason terminates their service, your online files MAY be lost. So you should always keep a backup of sensitive information elsewhere. Because you keep your files locally on your computer, you always have backup. The folder gets synchronized with your Dropbox account when you connect. If their service for some reason is down, you will not loose your files, because you have them stored locally on your computer.

So – to get started – my initial thought, was to store a key-file – a password file on my Dropbox account – for easy access from the computers I use daily. I have a lot of accounts in the cloud, and I rarely – if ever – use the same password twice. And everyone of them are generated.

Therefore – I wanted to store my encrypted password file in a virtual encrypted filesystem in my Dropbox account (which is also encrypted) for shared access from my computers.

I use Gnome Revelation password manager to store my online/offline password for various services. I store this file within my virtual encrypted filesystem-folder, which is then synched to my Dropbox account.

About security
The password file itself is encrypted – I need a password to open it. The filesystem to which the file is stored, is encrypted – I need an even longer password. My Dropbox account is encrypted – so a third password is needed.

I am not that worried about security!

Outside the box
Okei – so now I have my password file available from my computers. Next step must be to have a common set of config-files on each of them. I am not going to say much about this – it is simple enough. Just think of what sym-links can do!

Dropbox is THE file-share-over-multiple-systems thingy you’ll ever need! What is dropbox? Take a look at the image below – it says it all! In simple words – you have a folder on your computer, which is synced with an online folder at all times. You simply link every computer you want to this folder – and you have a share-folder! Version control, trash-can, public folder etc is available. It rocks!

I came across these to posts which is worth a read:

Both of them use a NON-gnome environment, and both came up with the same solution. Just download the Linux tar, start the daemon, and you are up and running! The hype about Nautilus/Gnome is that they have made a Nautilus-plugin – which you really don’t need.

I have made a request of choosing which filemanager you want to open your Dropbox-folder in. Hopefully – it will be heard!

Share over multiple systems

Share over multiple systems (from https://www.getdropbox.com/tour#3)

User control

Computers with several users who don’t want DropBox, may be somewhat turmoiled by the reoccuring registration window for DropBox. This is simply fixed – and a rather elegant and “WTP” solution was found on the DropBox forum, posted by user infinito d:

# addgroup dropbox
# chown root:dropbox /usr/lib/nautilus/extensions-2.0/libnautilus-dropbox.*
# chmod 640 /usr/lib/nautilus/extensions-2.0/libnautilus-dropbox.*
# adduser <username> dropbox

<username> is the user who will have Dropbox enabled. Repeat that steps to allow more users to use Dropbox. Be aware that paths are for Ubuntu, maybe those can change on other distros.

I personally use LXDE+Openbox on a Debian system. So I don’t have DropBox installed as a .deb-package. I rather have it located in at /opt/.dropbox-dist. And the daemon starts by having a .desktop file located in ~/.config/autostart which exec=/opt/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd, which would also be the location for the how-to above.

Updated – TrueCrypt and Dropbox

I have made new post which talks about TrueCrypt and Dropbox – check it out!

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