Sync Update: Syncplicity, Dropbox, Windows Live (?) Mesh

Quick update to my recent Syncplicity review:

In the meantime Microsoft’s Windows Live Mesh opened to the public, combining synhcronization and backup – also competing with their own Foldershare.  Now a word on what will happen to Foldershare, but I guess the writing is on the wall.  That said,  Live Mesh just failed for me the second time, so I can’t really recommend it.

Another service, Dropbox is getting a lot of buzz nowadays, largely to a smart theme of giving out limited numbers of beta invitations.  Apparently artificially created shortage is good marketing, bloggers LOVE being able to give away 10 or so invites…

Dropbox has one advantage over Syncplicity: it’s multi-platform, including Apple’s OS X and Linux, whereas Syncplicity is Windows only for now.  But that’s where it ends: it has less features (forget Web Apps integration, e.g. Google, Zoho, Scribd, Picnik), and has what I consider a huge flaw:  you have to drop your files into a dedicated folder to be synchronized.   That may be reasonable if you want to collaborate on a limited set of files, but it simply does not resolve the “access to all my data anywhere, anytime” problem.  It’s certainly a show-stopper for me.

So if you’re waiting for a Dropbox invitation, you might as well try Syncplicity – you’ll love it.  And if you sign up here, you get 1G more, i.e. 3G of free storage instead of the standard 2G.

Update: I received a very good, constructive comment from Assaf, who pointed out this was a largely negative post.   In my mind this post is an extension of my original Syncplicity review, but now that I re-read it on it’s own, I agree with Assaf.  Please read my response here, that makes this post complete.

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  1. Dropbox has been buzzing for a while, I’m using it and it’s awesome for what it does. On OS X you can synchronize multiple directories, but the “interface” involves creating symlinks. Lame, but it does let me access directories of my choice from everywhere.

    Your previous post about Syncplicity was interesting, I made a mental note to consider it when they add OS X support. I don’t need the extra features, though, but if they do what Dropbox does only better, it’ll be worth switching.

    This post reads like it’s going out of its way to bash everything else out there. I always have this impression that if you need to bash, you have nothing interesting to offer. If this was the first post I read about it, I would just remember Syncplicity as another noisy me-too late-comer.

    It’s easier to get respect by treating others with respect.

  2. Assaf,

    You are right, now that I re-read it on it’s own, I agree. To me it was just an extension of the original post.

    I don’t regret bashing Live Mesh, because yes, it’s terribly frustrating to see failure from the second time. That said I expect it to become a terrific service and a threat to these startups one day – just not now.

    As for Dropbox, I think it serves a very different purpose. Like you said , awesome for what it does.

    I doubt users would want to re-organize their folder structure to accomodate everything under the Dropbox folder, so I look at it more like a way to actively manage certain files you want sync-d and backed up, or to collaborate on – which is what the Dropbox name also implies.

    So to me: Dropbox: active, participatory management of what to sync, share, vs. Syncplicity: install once, forget forever bacground sync and backup..etc.

    Apples and Oranges, and I was p***d to find out, since no reviewers mentioned it, but that’s no reason to take it out on them:-)

    Thanks, I really appreciate your comment.

  3. So far Microsoft’s online properties had the life span of a startup with no founders, funding or business model. They’re throwing pasta at the wall, I just decided to stick to something better.

    If you use symlinks you don’t have to organize your directories under the dropbox, just link to them.

    It’s definitely apples and oranges.

    Dropbox is teh awesome for some workflows that, being a web developer, I do a lot of. And it’s good for real-time versioned backup of my documents directory.

    It’s great for that, it’s lousy for everything else. Not my first (or second, or third) choice for general backup, not something I’d use for sharing MP3 or my photo collection.

    The thing is, all these products are discussed under the “folder synchronization” category which is the equivalent of lumping mountain bikes and minivans under “vehicles”.

    They all target different use cases and workflows.

  4. “all these products are discussed under the “folder synchronization” category which is the equivalent of lumping mountain bikes and minivans under “vehicles”.

    That’s a good one, and I agree. As usual, I think far to many reviewers lack an important step: use it before you write about it 🙂 – then they would know better.

    Oh, as for symlinks, I still live in Windows-prison. I really don’t know why… somehow got stuck here.

  5. Syncplicity; you can choose which folders to sync but windows only, other OS support still in development.
    Dropbox; has muliple OS, but choose multiple folders option is still in development.
    I don’t see much difference in the predicted final product. Each has one big feature still in development. I’m going to wait and see and go with which is best when they come out of beta.

  6. Eventually, like Emacs, all these products will learn to read email, browse the web, run a WoW client, and organize your socks. May the product with the prettiest icon win!

    I’m going to bet, though, that they’ll develop to support different workflows and appeal to different user bases, and for some people that would make the difference.

    BTW I’m using both DropBox and Mozy right now. I don’t want my entire computer backed up in real time, I don’t want my work directory backed up once a night, either.

  7. Anyone got a spare Dropbox invite? I’d be extremely grateful, and thanks in advance.

    nightshadow, and I use gmail

  8. i think it’s also important to mention that syncplicity does not offer block level syncing. when video editing, i’d rather transfer a few megs rather than few gigs for every change i make. hopefully they implement this soon– it’s the only thing keeping me from using them right now.

  9. interestingly enough, i should add that dropbox has the above mentioned feature.

  10. using DropBox and loving it …
    using MobileMe and loving it as well …

  11. Hello.
    I have Windows Live Sync and the problem I have is that whenever two people are editing the same file at the same time, Live Sync creates two new files in the same folder adding the at the end of the file’s name. Does this happen with Live Mesh as well? (this was not happening when I used Foldershare in the past).
    Is there any feature where just the first person who opens a file can edit it and other people can open it just as “read-only”?
    thanks and I really appreciate your help.


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