Home > Mac OS X, Productivity, Software, Utility, Windows, Working with Windows > With my head up in the clouds…

With my head up in the clouds…

My hard drive head, that is.

With having to do work at home sometimes and studying at work sometimes and both while traveling, it was becoming harder and harder to keep data synced up between computers, even with a USB stick.  So I thought I would look into some online file storage options.  After doing a little investigating, I settled on checking out three of the many options in the Wikipedia article: DropBox, Live Mesh (beta), and ZumoDrive.

My findings and thoughts after the break…

I didn’t have too many requirements for my online storage, but the first was that it had to work with both Mac and Windows.  That’s usually easy enough, especially if it had a web interface, but I would prefer that it had drag-and-drop capabilities, and preferably as a folder in Finder or Explorer.  I obviously didn’t do an exhaustive search, but the three I settled on do the job for me.  Here is what I found…

Installation and access

On the Mac (which I’ll be concentrating on), installing DropBox sets up my storage as a folder (or directory) anywhere you’d like.  However, at least on my Mac, I couldn’t find a way to create it as a Volume, but then, I didn’t spend too much time looking for it, so there may be a way.  I prefer it as a folder (as mentioned above), so it’s fine the way it is.  ZumoDrive sets up a volume on my Mac.  Live Mesh allows you to create or link folders.

On Windows, DropBox sets up as a folder, while ZumoDrive is a “Device with Removable Storage.”  Finally, Live Mesh sets up folders as well, but under a somewhat mysterious “Live Mesh Folders” under the User, although you can specify a location under other folders, such as “Documents”.

Storage

ZumoDrive comes with 1GB free, with the ability to get up to a total of 2GB free if you refer friends.  It also has options for paid accounts for more memory.  DropBox comes with 2GB free with options for paid accounts.  Live Mesh comes with 5GB free, and as far as I can tell, there are no other options for extra storage, paid or not.  It may be because it’s in beta, but who knows?  Something to dig around a little more for.

While DropBox really is just online storage to share files, ZumoDrive and Live Mesh allow you to sync up existing folders.  Live Mesh doesn’t push it like ZumoDrive does (perhaps because of the 5GB limit?).  ZumoDrive allows you to specifically sync up things such as your photo folder, your music folder (iTunes), etc.  I don’t know about you, but for me that’s multi-gigabytes, and that would mean paying for sure!

Resources

On my Mac, DropBox takes up about 10MB less of “real memory” than either ZumoDrive or Live Mesh.  The big difference is with CPU resources.  DropBox and ZumoDrive are both using about .1% CPU at idle, while Live Mesh is using about 2%.  That may not seem like much of a difference, and it really isn’t, but then why can’t Live Mesh use the same 20X less CPU while not really doing anything?

Extras

Perhaps it’s because Live Mesh is meant to do so much more!  I haven’t tried it yet (yes, I’m scared), but Live Mesh has an option to connect remotely to another computer.  It doesn’t appear that you can connect to a Mac from Windows, or vice versa, but you can connect Windows to Windows.

And as mentioned above, it appears that ZumoDrive makes it really easy to backup and/or sync your photo and music folders, among others.  You can do it with the others, but you have to manually specify the directories.

Conclusion

For the needs I currently have, just a simple way to synchronize work and school files wherever I happen to be and whatever computer I happen to be using, DropBox is the way to go.  Its combination of storage, ease of use, and resource usage made it the winner for me.  For others of you, one of the myriad of choices may work better.  Let me know what you decide.

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