At this point, you should have the familiarity to Dropbox. If you do not know about it, color us surprised. It is the one that paved the way since online storage started becoming a thing between 2007-2010. Unfortunately, there are some businesses that don’t understand its full use and can in some cases get into trouble with it when not careful, but that is where we step in and can explain.
Lets start with “Personal” Dropbox. It is great if you need for personal reasons. Good affordability, nice storage option. If you’re in a business and trying to use it for even remote business reasons, you are technically breaking rules and also, you are NOT covered properly when backing up the files, much less meeting compliance. Privacy has also been a concern with Dropbox over the last few years too which makes it a big question as to “Should you use it” if for your own personal needs if privacy is not a concern to you. A quote that was recently found tends to state it best:
“Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” – Edward Snowden
If we go into Business class, it gets much more expensive. If you are a 1- or 2-person business, you will find the cost a bit outrageous since you will be paying for 3 users minimum. Its part of the obligations. But you do get much more from the business sense and meet more compliance methods before signing anything else. By the way, if you are under HIPAA requirements, not only is business class a need, its required specifically for you and not mentioning that out the gate means you would be breaking certain technology guidelines of HIPAA. And if you’re wondering if going Business class would make up for the privacy concerns, we wouldn’t be able to tell you for sure. Assuming you are under HIPAA requirements, we would HOPE that the business class with HIPAA protections would keep information private at all times.
Also, in either case, this really would just cover syncing and backing up important files on the system and not backing up your system (unless it’s a reasonable backup file). The only hard part to trust about Dropbox is security given that for a long time, they couldn’t provide End-to-end encryption. When they did add it on, then the only concern is that the data is decrypted, then encrypted at higher data security than when transmitted while it is at rest. This is well and good unless those with sharper minds note “at what point is the data exposed when going into Dropbox servers?” Basically, that would be the door after decrypting, and the small hallway presented that goes to the next door to your data’s room door. However, it is possible that because of this, this is why Dropbox is generally considered “the fastest” when it comes to uploading and downloading data. So just be aware when going down this hole. Its also a note that like everything else, just because it’s the most publicly popular brand known, doesn’t mean it is the best.
One issue that has come up before is Dropbox taking over backing up EVERYTHING on your system and you get an error where a file complains “its not found” even though you are staring at it, lets say on the desktop screen. This can get rather frustrating if you don’t realize it was the Dropbox app doing it and having Dropbox stop the sync, transfer everything out of the Dropbox folder to go to their appropriate spots is going to take some time and possibly be a hassle.
Box used to be considered the main contender to Dropbox. To try and push along the competition, at one-point Box gave an interesting freebie for a limited time that allowed people to have 50 GB of storage free to individuals or businesses with some small caveats. While it did seem to work, people found Box to be a bit more trouble than its worth. Data transfer was generally slower both up and down regardless of paid plans.
However, you get what you pay for often.
Its Free offering is kind of a joke if you have files bigger than 250 MB. If not, then it might be what you need. It generally offers all the ability Dropbox has, but adds restrictions that gets laxed the more you pay into it.
When paying, you can go monthly or annual and you increase quite a bit, but for only “up to 100 GB” for a personal account, that seems too restrictive for the cost. Though file versioning begins to increase. For those that do not know what versioning is, versioning is the version of the file between saves, so saving 5 different times with new or changed information should be 5 different versions of the same file. With the proper tools, you can go back to an older version of the same file.
The same issue about restrictions can be said for Business Starter. Its situations like these for the added securities and encryptions to try and care for the people and not figuring out ways to at least match up with the competition out there when most understand about money and storage that it is more of a wonder that they are still around, but most likely it is because stumbling on Box was by accident if you dropped the “drop” part of the word.
Business plans really is the bread and butter of the company and that may be why they focus on those over individual needs. While the Business Starter and above has a 3 minimum user account required, the cost will be only saving when you pay annual. Though once you are in business territory, your storage is unlimited beginning on Business Standard. You are also restricted on file sizes of data so if you have large high quality video files that need backup, this might not be for you. I do warn though, HIPAA compliant users beware as you need to pay for the most expensive price of Enterprise level if you want that compliance check correct.
They are still recommended if security is the absolute primary focus for your file syncing. Just be aware how much data you will need.
Sync Cloud (sync.com)
Sync is pretty much supposed to be for all. It is nice in pricing and lately when pushes for privacy has been a concern, they have been the one to try and set the new standard. What you will find here is Dropbox, but from a different company with few things far better and a few caveats that are at least understandable. You could say it also learned a bit from Box.
Pricing-wise, they mostly hold you with annual fees so the pricing shown under “monthly” is not at all monthly, just how much you would pay per month when broken down. There are some monthly options, but those are on the more expensive plans and you will pay more than the monthly breakdown of annual for the subscription to be monthly.
Storage, you cannot argue that its good. Free, you get some basic data, but again, it tries to pit itself as better than Dropbox since it’s the number 1 to beat so why not offer something that gives a decent comparison?
When you break into the priced, the basic individual gets 2 TB of storage and no limits of data transfer. If you need more, you can get 6 TB plan as an individual, but HIPAA sole practitioners could take note here because it has HIPAA compliance on an individual level. Versioning is impressive as it is held for half a year on basic and a full year for the advanced. You cannot possibly lose a file with a generous time period like that.
What if you went business level or just required a team level? Well, they offer that at reasonable rate, but again, billed annual. However, you only need a minimum of 2 for such offers which makes them cheaper than Dropbox or Box. HIPAA compliancy is also available right from the start on this level as well. It does start with only 1TB of storage, however. Though if you upgrade to Teams Unlimited, you will get Unlimited storage as the name implies.
It is said that the speeds are not as fast as Dropbox, though since Sync aims for standards of privacy and security, you would find them at the fair amount of each. They make sure they are audited to pass security checks (which is what they emphasize among their features).
There is another idea to consider. The services that are packaged together. I’m talking about those that look at Google and Microsoft. What about those?
Yep, it goes by 3 different names depending on your use and needs.
Let us start with the free part of Drive. 15 GB of storage that is shared with your e-mail and photos (which is important to note if you wish to use Google’s Photo system). If you’re an android user and you utilize the backup feature, that is included in storage. Not much to really work with on a free budget, right? Though you can just not use the Backup feature and backup some files as you need, though it is a bit complicated to setup.
But if you need more storage, Google One will offer that in spades. But does it offer any more options outside of storage increase? Not really. What you find available in Drive such as making Documents, power points, and spreadsheets remains available with Google One. Plus, you can add your computer to the backup in full if you have more than 15GB of files to backup. Unfortunately, it only covers backing up of your files and not necessarily of your system. If you need to reinstall or get onto a new system, you would only be recovering the files you have backed up like photos, word docs, pdf, etc. That also assumes that you want them in all the same places.
Keep in mind that if you’re running a business, neither of the above are worth using.
But what about Workspace? That is for the businesses out there that have need for backing up, file share, and much better collaboration. What is far better however is that businesses can make saving files for certain groups far easier than you’d ever think. Need a folder that is accessible for your project team so that they can all access, collaborate, and make changes? You can do that without messing with your own file share. Need a different folder that has accessibility for receipts and such for the accounting person? Can do that too. Need that Second in command that has all access to all of the above as well? Yep. Perfect there. And you do not have to navigate hard to find that. It’s as easy as going to your own system drive to where your documents and such are stored. Just make sure you have the storage on your system to handle the storage that is shared, or you might be in for a world of hurt. The only caveat to that feature would be you need to use an entirely different program from the standard to see those options on your desktop and the program in question can only be found by digging through the help area as an install clearly directed towards the I.T. person in the organization.
HIPAA can absolutely apply on Workspace only, but it must be mentioned from the very beginning to Google as it takes time to migrate from the typical storage needs to ensure compliance.
Cost will be the general factor for both paid methods, but Businesses should beware more on the Workspace side of things. While the starter is nice, you only get 30 GB of cloud storage PER user and it is still shared for your e-mail. While Standard offers 2 TB of storage making it easier, it adds a bit more feature for other things like Call recording for calls made within Google Meet and Chat. Though standard is what you need if you want to also have appointment booking so if you need that feature, then Standard is for you. If you go for Plus features, you will have a bit more controls added for each device and more storage (5 TB) per user.
Chances are you’d know how OneDrive can be shoved in your face just by having a Windows system. On the bright side, if you need file syncing, at least its right there without having to download and install anything. Unless of course you had to install because you removed it.
Free, it does the job simple for small files. I would not recommend it however for backing up your documents, photos, etc as you will use the free storage QUICK in todays world so maybe just limiting to files you place is ok. But if you’re a business, the free tier isn’t anything you want. While you have access to basic functions of Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, you can only do so online on the web or on your mobile phone with limited functionality. Another reason is that you basically have no real protections.
You Could get OneDrive only for 100GB, but I wouldn’t recommend it for the cost as standalone, many others offer more for less and for a bit more on another tier, you get OneDrive included and basically is like a bundled discount.
If you go into paying with Microsoft 365 for personal or family, you do get MUCH more storage offerings, though you probably got those for the simple access with Word, Powerpoint and Excel all on your desktop. Maybe Outlook as well depending on the pricing you paid for. Either comes with 1TB storage, but on Family, it is 1 TB of storage EACH user you have under you.
The storage syncing interface is surprisingly robust, though it only makes sense since that was its focus when backing up files really was needed. Though while useful for personal or making a family needs, it is not the go to for business for many reasons. Technically speaking, you break some rules on the off-chance Microsoft finds out if you are using a Family pack of Microsoft 365 for your business. Also, you still don’t have much coverage in case something happens.
Microsoft 365 for Business however does validate the business reasons real fast. For starters, you can have those accounts tied to your own domain. If you go Premium, you’ll have the added benefit that each user could basically have their systems setup and ready to go with all the programs they need from logging in, saving time when you’re having to get a new system up and running. Also, premium has extra security measures you can make use of, but only if you know what you’re doing and where to look. If you don’t have an IT person, that might make the option a little bit of a challenge.
Going to the OneDrive portion, you can do several things for file syncing. For starters, if you have collaborations that need to happen, you can make a Sharepoint that has the files needing sharing between you and other members of your organization easily, though using it on each desktop is a slight step-by-step guidance. Once done however, you will get access to your personal business onedrive AND your team-based onedrive.
Now there is one interesting trick about this. What if you mainly need just your Office files sync’d and for some reason, you don’t want to have OneDrive on constantly? The good news is that Word, Excel, and Powerpoint all can connect inside the programs without having OneDrive on, saving you a little bit of precious resources on your PC.
As usual, this is meant to purely sync and backup your docs, photos, videos, and other related files. It does the job, nothing more, nothing less.
Caveat emptor should apply here before you run off and get this. While Microsoft 365 for business can be purchased by anyone who does legitimately offer to resell it including Microsoft direct, Go Daddy’s offering should be avoided. They can make life easier on the outside, but much of the benefits above is tied more into Microsoft’s ecosystem and using Go Daddy for the Microsoft 365 benefit is a bit like saying you use an iphone over an android phone simply because it was offered in a simple way and easier price with the salesperson saying you can make calls even though there is major underlying features between the 2 for everything else including the call screen.
Another known issue is that Microsoft also will not take much responsibility beyond a 30-day period for backups of your data and it is even stated that you should choose a third party to backup the data that is stored. At least there is plenty of methods there.
Lastly, we have a unique situation.
Synology NAS system
Now I’m sure you haven’t heard of Synology, but it is known in the IT space for years for many reasons. With the right Synology NAS, you can use it to sync and backup your files. You can also backup your system if you so choose to.
One of the best unique things is that it offers programs to make collaboration easy, though if you’re on a Mac, it might make it harder for such collaboration.
But the Network Attached Storage (NAS) can do your file syncing and be your portable take with you like OneDrive, Drive, and Dropbox could, but it can be free or paid in your use case.
“What is the catch?”
Well you have to shell out quite a bit of cash, but it would be local in your network making it the FASTEST file sync around (assuming you have a decent modern network). The cost will depend on what you’re going for.
Each NAS system usually comes in Bay count. A 2-Bay means 2 drives, 4-bay means 4 Drives, etc. You’re usually going to want to spend more towards the 4-Bay minimum for a few reasons, namely to ensure you have a very basic level of redundancy in case a drive goes bad.
Also, the onus is on you to maintain in general (unless you work out a deal with an I.T. person). That is what you’re technically paying for in most of the cost with the other services is maintaining your data to be available and this way, you’re just paying it all in advance.
Another thing is your paying for the storage to determine your storage needs because you will be obtaining multiple of a storage in 99% of cases. If you got yourself a 5-bay and went 4 TB drives, you will be most likely spending upwards of $1500, but, you would only be spending it once versus a subscription, and that could give you with the right settings, up to 12TB of data to store. You still will want to find a way to backup off-site in case a catastrophic event occurs, but even then, someone like us has options to make that cost affordable. A setup like that could very well cost you less than any of the options above depending on how much is backed up and what is backed up.
There is one more great trick to this especially if you’re willing to utilize any and/or all of the above suggested products for certain things. You can create folders and have the NAS SYNC the files with all of the above, 1-way OR 2-way. Remember when we said in Microsoft 365 if you didn’t want to run OneDrive all the time that you could make the office programs do it only when you use them? How about not even use the basic implementation in those Office programs and let the NAS do the work for you! Interesting sync note too in that if you have Microsoft 365 for Business, Synology has a native solution to backup your Microsoft 365 Business data. Seems like a sweet deal here.
One other caveat to this is if you are portable and need to access your files, you will still have other things to consider. 1 would be the upload speed of your network. If you don’t have great network speeds, this is going to be reflected here when portable for downloading the information. If you use Synology’s newer C2 platform, this might not be so bad.
As far as compliance goes, it is only as compliant as you make it. Having an I.T. person will help where you need it for both network infrastructure and the device in question, making it difficult as a Do it yourself.
Yes, all of these comes with Pros and Cons and ultimately for file syncing alone, you need to figure out what would work for you. You could be the type that wants Microsoft 365 and a Synology drive so that you can always have access even when online is down. You could want Dropbox and Google Workspace so you can store some files in one and some files in the other. Maybe with that last option, you could add a Synology device and sync the 2 products so you can access them easier and know for sure which file is being uploaded and where.
Though this is where you can ask us on what works best for your needs if you’re having trouble deciding the best method and we will be glad to help.