Remote Storage: Ubuntu One vs Dropbox

by @edent | # # # # # | 4 comments | Read ~1,449 times.

I’ve been looking for a way to manage my backups. Burning DVDs and then leaving them around the house doesn’t strike me as a sensible way to preserve my data any more. I just want a simple way to thrust my files onto the cloud with the minimum of fuss.

The two big contenders I could find are Ubuntu One and Dropbox.

Both allow me to map a drive and seamlessly sync my files just by copying them in there. I don’t need to worry about regularly running a “sync” command. Just drag, drop, done.

Quick Comparison

Ubuntu OneDropbox
Price per yearUS$29.99 per 20GBUS$99.99 per 50GB
OS SupportUbuntu Only. Windows support in betaLinux, Windows, Mac
Mobile SupportMusic and contact sync onlyFull file support
Application supportYes, via CouchDBFlat filesystem only
SecurityFiles stored UNencryptedAll files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted (AES-256)

There Can Be Only One

I really really wanted to go with Ubuntu One. It’s cheaper and the money I pay for it would support my favourite Linux distribution. For US$90 I could get 60GB and feel good about paying for Linux.

But it’s not to be. Dropbox wins on three counts.


Firstly, Dropbox Mobile is supported on a wide range of phones. Sure, I only use Android now, but I may move back to BlackBerry. Bizarrely, Ubuntu One Mobile only works for syncing music and contacts. So, no pictures, documents, movies. Far too limited for me.

Command Line

Secondly, command line options. I run a headless server at home which is primarily used for storing the household’s music, movies, and photos. It runs Xebian – a Debian variant. Yet it seems that Ubuntu One only works on Ubuntu machines. While I kind of understand the logic behind that – it’s a business limiting decision.
By contrast, Dropbox works fine on the command line of just about any Linux distro.

I never run Windows or Mac. But, I’m sure one day a job will mandate that I do – so it makes sense to go with the one with wider support.


Both services use SSL to encrypt during transmission – but Dropbox uses Amazon S3 to keep the contents of the files secure.
While I’m sure Amazon has its problems, Ubuntu One doesn’t keep its files encrypted and makes no mention of physical security.

Other Options

I’m aware that I could buy several gigs of space via a cloud server somewhere and treat my filesystem as a giant SVN. But this has an easy to use front end, paid support, and apps for my mobiles.

That said, if you can convince me there’s a better option – please let me know!

You can sign up to Dropbox using my referral link – that way, we both get extra space.

4 thoughts on “Remote Storage: Ubuntu One vs Dropbox

  1. venik says:

    look into Wuala.

  2. tom says:

    Thanks! I used your referral link to sign up for DB,

    I recommend you to use Spideroak and Wuala- use following referral links(for 1GB extra) and promo codes(1-5 GB Extra)
    do not run your browser in Private mode or Incognito mode when signing up, for these depend upon some cookie.. you can clear them after signing up!-

    For SpiderOak
    use the promo- ‘hurricanesafe’ you’ll get 5 GB free! else follow this link-

    for wuala-

  3. That sounds all very interesting, but you forget that Ubunut One hosts in the UK with EU legislation and Dropbox and Spiederoak all host in the US of A. And the US Patriot and FISAAA 2008 and ECPA 1986 provision to the public of computer storage or processing services by means of an electronic communications system (Cloud) means that they WILL get your data, encrypted or unencrypted is irrelevant for them. If you host in the U.S. it is your loss and their gain. Don’t be a fool and don’t do it! (EU-located) (Self-Host) (Self-Host) (Self-Host)

    1. That’s very true. Although you will notice I wrote this post 2 and a half years ago – when this was thought to be less of an issue.

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