Dropbox, IDrive, SkyDrive, and Google Drive

I have tried Dropbox, iDrive, SkyDrive, and Google Drive.  I was checking out file syncing.  So this what I found out.  I have a Windows desktop computer, a Windows laptop computer, and an Android mobile phone.

Dropbox, SkyDrive, and Google Drive

On the desktop side, these services pretty much do the same thing.  They create shared folders on your desktop.  You copy files to these folders and these services will upload the files on to their servers. Once uploaded, the files can be available for your phones.

What they don’t do is automatically download the files to your phones when the files have been uploaded to the servers.  On their phone apps, you have to manually download the files to your phone. This makes sense. If you want to share say 2.5GB worth of data, that would incur 2.5GB of data usage for your phone.  If there was automatic downloading, unless you have an unlimited data plan, such a download would be costly.

On the phone side, you can open the file straight from the phone app. You don’t have to look for the files in the phone file system. Let’s say you downloaded a music file to your phone. You can open the file straight from inside the app.

One concern is what happens when your phone is out-of-network. Just because the phone app sees what’s on the the server, doesn’t mean that the files will be ready to use when the phone is out-of-network.

Where they differ is amount of free storage space they provide and how their phone apps operate.

IDrive

IDrive is a different service than the other three. IDrive is a backup service and a file sharing service while the others are just a file sharing service.

IDrive starts out with 5 GB of free storage space. However, if you install the desktop app, install the phone app, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook, you get 2GB more storage space.

One advantage of IDrive is that it can backup important data from your phone such as your contacts, SMS data, photos, video, call logs, calendar, and so so forth.  If you download the app to your phone and open it, click on the Backup button and you get the backup screen. Select the items that you want to backup and press the backup button.  Afterwords, you can schedule a backup, like say everyday.

There are some annoying features however. It posts a lot of notifications on your phone during backup.

I am not thrilled about the desktop app.  It has changed since I last tried it.  The app seems more solid.  There is one thing I don’t like.  I am a DSL user with a 100KB/sec upload bandwidth.  When I run iDrive, it takes up nearly all the upload bandwidth even at the lowest upload speed setting slowing down my browsing experience.  On the flip side, the upload speed on a cable connection is really, really fast.  I uploaded 1.59 GB of data in 24 minutes on a cable network.  That’s fast.

Recently, iDrive offers a file sharing service, similar to DropBox.  Just like DropBox, it creates a shared folder.

For those who are security conscientious, you can encrypt your data with a private key. This even prevents even iDrive personnel from reading your data.

You can download files to your phone. I figured out where it downloads to.  On my phone, downloads go to /storage/sdcard0/IDrive_download.

You can connect IDrive to another computer for no additional fee.

At the time of this writing, you can get 50 GB of backup storage plus 50 GB of file sharing storage for $0.99/year.

Dropbox

Dropbox offers 2.5GB of free storage space.

You can download files from the Dropbox app to your phone file system. Let’s say you have an external flash on your phone and it contains all your music files. You can copy files from Dropbox phone app to your external flash.

One advantage of Dropbox is that the app can backup your photos and videos from your phone automatically.  When you take a picture, the app automatically queues the new photo for backup.  Video is a different story.  If, I think, the file is greater than 25MB in size, like most video, Dropbox will not upload the file if the phone is connected to a cellular network.  However, if the phone is connected to a Wifi network, Dropbox will upload it.

One annoying feature is that the phone app will not transfer files to the server if the battery is low. This seems reasonable but in my case the app would not transfer files when the battery is 29% full.

When I connected Dropbox to a second computer in addition to connecting to a phone, I receive 48 GB of bonus space for 24 months on top of my 2.5 GB free space for a total of 50.75 GB of space (I don’t know where the 0.25 GB of space came from).

On your desktop, you can sort of select a folder for Dropbox to upload.  If you right-click on a folder you can see one of two options. Either Send To Dropbox which means copying to the Dropbox foler or Move To Dropbox which means moving files to Dropbox folder.  In either case, your either copying or moving files.  Unlike IDrive, you cannot select a folder for Dropbox to backup without having to copy or move them.

SkyDrive

SkyDrive offers 7GB of free storage space.

You can download files to your phone file system.  It took me awhile to find where the app downloads the file. The app doesn’t tell you where the download directory is.  On my phone, the download directory is located at /storage/sdcard0/SkyDrive/downloads.

The SkyDrive app can scan your phone for pictures and copy them to the phone app but you have to select individual pictures.  There is no select all option.  You cannot select a folder containing the pictures.  This could be a problem if you have say 1000 pictures on your phone.  You would to manually select a 1000 pictures in order to upload them to the server.

Google Drive

One of the nice things about Google Drive is that you get 15GB of free space.

Unlike Dropbox, I haven’t figured out a way to save files from the Drive app to the phone file system.  Let’s say you have an external flash on your phone and it contains all your music files.  I haven’t figured out a way to save files from the Drive app to external flash.  You can upload files from the phone file system to the Drive app, but not the other way around.

One feature is that you can make your files available when your phone is offline. You have to select that option for each file to make that happen.

You can also specify which Google user has access to your file.

Testing

One test I used was to copy about 50 MB of data to all four apps on the desktop and see how long it takes to upload the files to their servers. They were three music files.

Dropbox finished in about 9 minutes. IDrive finished in about 15 minutes. SkyDrive and Drive finished in about 27 minutes.

Conclusion

I ended up going with Dropbox.  Dropbox seems to do all what SkyDrive and Drive can do and then some.  Dropbox has the advantage of automatically uploading new pictures from the phone to their server when a new picture is taken.  I don’t have to take the extra step of manually uploading new pictures to the apps after taking a new picture.  Dropbox gave me 50.75 GB of free space for two years which gives me the capability to save large videos.

I also went with IDrive.  I use it as a backup service.  I am still experimenting with it.  I  backup documents that are on my computers.  I just need to reorganize my files.  You don’t really want IDrive to backup the Documents folder because the Documents folder may contain much more than documents such as application data.   Just need to create a backup folder, put documents in there, and then back it up.

If you intend to move large amounts of data between your desktop and phone, you are better off connecting your phone to your computer via USB and move files using your file manager.  This is a whole lot faster than using a file sharing service.

None of these products syncs your calendar and contacts to say Microsoft Outlook.

Also note that Dropbox and IDrive can take up considerable data usage.  Before using Dropbox and IDrive, I was averaging about 2 GB per month.  Now I am using about 3.5 GB per month.

How to setup a WordPress blog on your web host

It was quite simple.  It took me a few hours.  I still need to do some tweeking though and to figure things out.  While I am setting up this blog, I might as well mention how I did it.  You don’t need to know HTML.

When you install WordPress to your host, make sure you use a strong password.  Pick a user name besides admin and besides your domain name; something not obvious.  The idea is to conceal your username from hackers.

I followed the instructions in this website http://websitesetupguide.com/basic/start.htm#head.  I didn’t use FatCow; I used GoDaddy.  I had free hosting credits on GoDaddy, so I used them.

The instructions suggests to use the askimet plugin.  The instructions says its free.  It is free.  It’s just when you register for the plugin, askimet will prompt you for credit card information.  If you don’t want to pay a donation for the plugin, move the slider to the left to zero.  This will make the credit card fields disappear.  Otherwise, you going to pay I think $36 every year.

You might get some registered users with strange usernames and email addresses.  I received email notifications of these registered users.  I built the blog on a Saturday night and I received the registered users the morning after.  To disable registration (you don’t need to register to leave a comment), go to Settings->General and in the Membership field uncheck Anyone can register.  If you have registered users, don’t forget to delete them.  I am not sure of the motive behind the registered users.  Maybe they are trying to hack the  blog hoping to get administrative access to the blog.

If you want remove the link to user registration, go to Appearance->Widgets.  In the Main Widget Area on the right side of the screen, drag the Meta box to left side the screen.  This should remove the Meta column, which contains the registration link, from the bottom of your blog.

If you want to know the difference between pages and posts, check out this link http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/what-is-the-difference-between-posts-vs-pages-in-wordpress/.

If you want your blog to be searchable in the search engines, install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.  This will create a sitemap and submit it to Bing and Google.  I think when you submit to Bing, the submission also goes to Yahoo.
An alternative is the WordPress SEO plugin.  Off the bat, it recommended me to switch the permalink setting to post name.  This plugin seems more geared for SEO than the Google XML Sitemaps.  The SEO plugin is more advanced while the Google XML is more simpler.  If you do install this plugin, go to SEO->XML Sitemaps and check Disable author/user sitemap.  This prevent hackers from guessing your username.

If you want to use Google Analytics for your blog, install the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin.  Make sure you install Google Analytics for WordPress, not Google Analytics.  Google Analytics is a different plugin.  If you already have a tracking ID, Google Analytics for WordPress gives you an option to enter the tracking ID.

If you don’t have comments enabled for your posts and you want to enable them for a particular post, go to Posts->All Posts and hover over your post that you want to enable.  You should see Quick Edit underneath the post.  Click on it and check Allow Comments.  Then press the Update button.

If you want to delete a category, go to Dashboard.  In the Dashboard page, go to the Right Now window and click on word Categories.  Hover over the category that you want to delete, click on delete.  Note you cannot delete Uncategorized.

To install Captcha (to keep bots from entering forms), go to Plugins->Add New and enter Captcha in the search box.  Click on Search Plugins.  You should see Captcha in the search list.  Install it.

Backup your blog.  You going to need an FTP client.  I use FileZilla.  It’s free.  FileZilla comes with a client and a server.  Install the client, not the server.  Installing the server might open a security risk on your computer.  Connect to your website via FTP.  If you can, connect using a secure connection because regular FTP is unencrypted.  Because of this, you shouldn’t use regular FTP in public wifi’s such as a coffee shop.  I use use FTP with TLS/SSL.  If you don’t know your FTP username and password, contact your hosting provider.

There is really two things you need to backup.  You need to backup wp-config.php and your database.   Downloading wp-config.php is simple; just download it to your computer using your FTP client.  The database is a bit tricky.  On GoDaddy, from your account page, go to Web Hosting and expand it.  Select your web site.  In the Hosting Details page, select Databases on the upper right side of the page.  Click on the Actions button associated with your database and then select Back Up.  This will create a backup database in the _db_backups directory in your web site.  Using your FTP client, download the _db_backups directory to your computer.  That’s it.

For security, install Better WP Security plugin.  If the plugin warns you to enable your permalinks, change your permalinks to anything other than default.  If you installed WordPress SEO, the SEO plugin would have suggested you to switch to the post name permalink setting.  To change the permalink setting, go to Settings->Permalink.  Follow the instructions by clicking on Security on the left side panel.  One of the things this plugin can do is change your table prefix after installation.  Changing the prefix is a security measure to make the blog more secure.

Another plugin to install for security is Wordfence Security.  Watch the video and follow the guides.  The morning after I installed the plugin, I got an email warning me that somebody tried to log in using the admin username.  After 20 attempts, Wordfence locked the user out.  Pretty neat plugin.

Even though you submit sitemaps to search engines in order to promote your blog, it is sort of ironic that the first people who might notice your blog are hackers.

One advantage of hosting your WordPress page is that you can run ads on it.  I don’t think you can do that on wordpress.com.  If you have an account to run ads, such as Google adSense, get an ad unit from your account and copy the HTML code.  Then go to this link to see how it is done:  http://www.siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/wordpress_adsense.htm.