Earlier this year, I blogged that the future of personal storage is in the cloud. It certainly wasn’t a revolutionary statement, especially when the writing was already on the wall in the form of Amazon S3, Google Documents, Dropbox and Box.net. Still, not everything is as straightforward as the average internet-going Joe is used to. Amazon S3 is too powerful and hard to setup and access for the average internet consumer’s personal cloud storage needs. Box.net’s product and pricing appeals largely to businesses. Dropbox works great to keep your files synchronized across machines, but quickly gets expensive (US$119.88 for 50GB of storage) and doesn’t interoperate with Google Docs, which I use a lot of.
I ended up accessing Google Docs for documents that needed collaboration or were shared with me. As for Dropbox, I subsisted on their free 2GB (sorry, I’m cheap) and periodically move files I’d like to keep out of Dropbox and into my local folder structure on my hard drive. My 5-bay Synology NAS then runs an automated script to backup the folders I care about. Sorry, I’m a geek. The average user would probably have a local folder structure plus a Dropbox folder (or not), and the occasional shared or created Google Document (or not), with no backup discipline. Either way, there’s just too many moving parts, and too much hassle involved. Software is supposed to be convenient and easy no?
Enter Insync and its latest client release, version 0.9.4. I’ve been a closed beta user since their 0.7.x days, but it’s their most recent release that has got me really excited. TechCrunch described Insync as Dropbox for Google Users. I say, if Google Docs and Dropbox had a love child, Insync would be it.
I’ve aggregated a bunch of their features from various sources:
- Overview – Dropbox-like file synchronization with offline access, using Google Docs as its backbone; full Explorer and Finder integration, including status indicator badges for files; client support for PC and Mac, with Linux and mobile support on the way.
- Expandable, Affordable – Purchase additional storage via Google Personal Storage or Google Apps User Managed Storage, and upgrade sync capacity at Insync; 200GB of Google Storage (US$50) + Insync Pro subscription (US$25) = US$75 / year, v.s. Dropbox’s US$239.88 / year for 100GB; a 3.2X price advantage.
- Awesomeness – sync multiple Gdocs accounts, read/write and read-only sharing for any folder/file, access and edit synced files locally or via Gdocs.
- Miscellaneous – Growl support for Mac, Autosuggest feature supports your Google contacts, versioning and conflict resolution,
differential syncing (so only the changed bits are uploaded and not the entire file)<-Google doesn’t support this yet, pooled storage support for Google Apps users + centralized user administration.
I know, you’re going to tell me about Google Drive or Box.net’s and Dropbox’s head start, and how tiny Insync will not stand a chance. You might also point out to me how Dropbox could add Google Docs support. People have talked about Dropbox doing this for the past 2 years, and I’m still not seeing it.
I do know however that Insync works great and gives better bang for my buck. It’s great as a tool for the Google Docs savvy consumer, and works well as an alternative to Box.net for organizations who are on Google Apps. Insync is still in closed beta and should be releasing publicly soon, but if you’d like to try it out in the meantime, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do.
Disclaimer: Neoteny Labs is an investor in Insync, and I’m their avid champion.
^ Official Insync team song 😉