Despite the fact that we spend so much time discussing a variety of cloud services, in most cases we contact directly with the part of them, which it comes not so often. Ordinary people, ordinary computers, ordinary tasks. Yet the main purpose of the service, which can have a huge array of additional functionality – synchronization and file storage. This would seem elementary, basic tasks, but they are executed 90% of the time. And if they are not implemented as it should, then it cannot reach to the rest of the business.
Though it may seem that all modern services now handle such tasks satisfactorily, it is not always. Lost when you synchronize files, because the algorithms perform basic operations have been developed for a long time, but it still happens. Take at least iCloud, which combines closeness to the user with a bad API. Its users regularly face loss of files, especially when synchronizing large amounts of small files, which often presents a difficulty for other services. Even the popular service failures occur. Still it would be interesting to compare the speed of synchronization of data between different devices on different services.
In the end, synchronization – this is the main task of the service and you work on multiple computers with different operating systems, then you lack the speed and synchronization failures are the most important factors when choosing a service (other than the available free space, added functionality, and so on).
For comparison, I chose the most popular services – Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive and Box.net. At various times I had to use all. Each has its own unique advantages – online documents, the ability of streaming music and video files and so on. But I was interested in just basic synchronization capabilities – how quickly synchronize files, whether lost, and what is the scatter in the results?
I ran some tests with all sorts of different types of files – large files, arrays of small files (look, for example, arrays of photos) heterogeneous sets. In the process of testing a very large role unpredictable factors, so each test was repeated 10 times. The difference between the measurements sometimes fit into the margins of error was sometimes very significant. During testing, I realized that, not only peak rate is important, which can show a particular service, but also the stability of the results. Simply put, it is not the one who is sometimes the fastest, but the one who never turns the slowest. Synchronization Sometimes the same set of files lasted 10 seconds, sometimes minute.
Cloud Data Storage Services
Dropbox – Old resident of cloud movement did not even think to give up – despite the miserable as by today’s standards, the amount of free space issued, Freemium model for this service is operated by a large user base and competently made the referral program. In addition, with simple operations, there are also trained users working with some advanced features of Dropbox, you can easily bring the volume to 5 GB standard. There are also paid plans, but they are by today’s standards, a little expensive. But the high cost is offset by the efficiency of Dropbox. The sync is faster than its competitors, in most cases, but more importantly, it has almost no failures in performance when the speed drops to almost zero (and LAN Sync feature allows faster synchronization is even greater). Cases of loss of files is not never seen. Everything just worked without any glitches on all computers, whatever OS on them has not been established.
Once again, Dropbox has users on all popular operating systems – OS X, Windows and different versions of Linux.
Also popular because this is the only service that offers the client under Linux and under different distributions.
Google Drive Service, actively promoted by Google, along with the rest of the package (no word on G+). Drive, however, is popular – not least because of the office suite, Docs, which has not disappeared and continues to supplement Drive. Although it does not edit the files in Word, yet its presence is a big plus. Another plus is the union Warehouse Drive, Gmail and Picasa, giving a total of 15 GB of free space, which is more than any of its competitors in the popular services (various auction offers not taken into account), although the actual amount available will depend on how actively you use the mentioned services. Also, use Drive for file sharing still less common than Dropbox. Drive worked slower than Dropbox, but the second place was occupied stable. Lost files was not apparently an error in synchronization that early users had bothered to remove. Drive a client for OS X and Windows. Client for Linux for several years now is in “limbo” state, and the client for Windows likely cannot wait due to the escalation of the conflict with Google and Microsoft.
Microsoft Skydrive promoted as an integrated solution, which should be the link for all Windows-based computers, this service is deeply integrated in the latest Windows 8 and Windows Mobile OS 7/8. In these OS Skydrive automatically saves not only the user data, but also, for example, the data for the system recovery in case of failure. That is iCloud, but more open and friendly to other platforms – there are apps for all mobile platforms and OS X. Free 7 GB available, but some people who have used Skydrive for a long time can get a free bonus and increase the volume up to 25 GB. Prices for extra space is very democratic. Skydrive In testing showed the third result – despite periodic “sprints” averages were lower than those of competitors. In addition, the service periodically “hang out” and stop synchronization. Restart the service could only be “killing” the process and run it manually – it is clear that a normal user would have to restart the computer.
Box.net – perhaps the only competitor to Dropbox number of services that do not belong to the giants of the IT industry, and thus having a major stake in the market. They divided the market niches – Dropbox mastered on consumer market while Box.net won corporate. Now both had outgrown the old framework and they encroach on the territory of a rival. Most recently, a desktop application for synchronization in Box.net offered only to paid subscribers, but the service is now open to all comers. Free standard space – 5GB, but much of the non-business user accesses the Box.net service because it generously distributed free place on a variety of actions associated with mobile devices. So you can get up to 50 GB of free space, but with restrictions. For example, the maximum upload file size is limited to 250 MB for free accounts. Clients are available for Windows,and OS X Unfortunately, the results are not too encouraging. Stable low speed, and besides loading periodically interrupted, and then scans the entire application again synced folder, which can take considerable time if the folder has a large volume.
Testing for all services give strange results when saving Word files (or any other) who were in the process of editing. Sometimes dubbed file, sometimes appeared more files with the same name, except that it always starts with “~ $”. Subsequently, these files disappeared. In general, the test results show why many users, including myself, still use the services of Dropbox despite the fact that competitors offer more space. In practice, to store the most important files you need is not so much space but reliability and speed come out on top. And here Dropbox is still an advantage.
Few Tips finally that apply, no matter how you use the service:
- Do not turn your “cloud” in the landfill, distribute it in stored folders. Organized!
- When you save files in the cloud for further work with them from another place, close the application, which you edit a file – otherwise, the changes may not be saved.
- Keep copies of important files locally or synchronize them with other cloud services – while editing or deleting files from the cloud can make mistakes and recover large volumes of files from the cloud using native SLE is quite labor-intensive.
- If synchronization does not work, and the service is available, try to restart the application or restart the computer.
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