Cloud File Synchronization

You place a file on your computer.  It is immediately copied to the cloud, using an encrypted transmission application and is then stored in an encrypted form.  That is how cloud file sync works.  Changes made to the file on your computer or to the file in the cloud are immediately synchronized to other copies of the file.  If the file exists on multiple computers in addition to the cloud – say your laptop and your assistant’s desktop – the file is updated in all locations.  In many cases, the file storage site has version control and the ability to undelete a file.

Cloud file synchronization can provide some business continuity but is not a traditional backup.  Since it assumes a file exists in more than one place, it has a built-in “offline” benefit that means you do not need the Internet to have access to your files.  Most have apps so that you can access your files from a phone or tablet even if you aren’t synchronizing all of your files to that device.

There are two types of products to consider.  One is the primary file storage service.  You can also supplement that with a pre-encryption tool.

Storage

Apple iCloud
Consumer-oriented file sync service for Mac OS and iOS users.  5GB space free.  Mail and Notes not stored encrypted on Apple’s servers.

Box.com
Look at the Box Personal (5 GB free) and Box for Business (3+ computers, 1000 GB) products.  Business version integrates with Google Apps, has version control.   Integrates with legal practice management app Clio.

Dropbox.com
Free 2GB accounts and can upgrade to Dropbox Pro (1 computer) and Dropbox for Business (3+ computers).  Paid accounts come with Packrat unlimited version control.  Integrates with legal practice management apps Clio and RocketMatter

Google Drive
Consumer-oriented file sync, automatic account for Google account and Google Apps users.  5 GB free.  Look at Google Apps version for more tools and higher commitment to availability over free version.  Integrated with free Google Web apps.

Microsoft Skydrive
Consumer-oriented cloud sync.  7GB free.  Integrated with Microsoft free Web apps (not to be confused with the paid Microsoft Office 365 apps and subscriptions).

Spideroak
Look at Personal and Professional products.  2GB free.  Unusual in that information is pre-encrypted before being uploaded and being stored in additional encryption.  Use Hive tools to sync across multiple devices.

Sugarsync
Look at paid Personal and Business accounts.  Can start with 5 GB free.

Ubuntu One
Canonical’s user-oriented cloud for this Linux platform, starts with 5 GB free.

Pre-Encryption Tools

  • Boxcryptor [Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive, Sugarsync]
  • Cloudfogger [Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive]
  • Viivo [Dropbox] (formerly known as Secretsync)

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