ZipCloud initially looks like a file syncing solution (much like Dropbox), but it actually has a slightly different set of features. It sits somewhere between Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and CrashPlan.
However, there are a few features which concerned me – including a few important details which are not stated clearly enough on the sign-up page.
Let’s take a look at the prices first.
The ZipCloud website advertises ‘unlimited cloud storage’, but this is actually pretty misleading. The number of files users can upload may well be unlimited, but the amount of space is limited in two of the three plans.
ZipCloud is free for 14 days. After that, you’ll need to choose from a variety of prices. The way these are structured makes ZipCloud look more like a web hosting company than a backup service:
- The Home plan offers 75GB storage. It costs £8.95 for one month, £47.70 for six months, £83.40 for 12 months or £142.80 for 24 months.
- The Premium plan offers 250 GB storage. It costs £9.95 for one month, £41.70 for six months, £95.40 for 12 months or £166.80 for 24 months.
- The Unlimited plan costs £12.95 for one month, £71.70 for six months, £119.40 for 12 months or £214.80 for 24 months.
For the sake of comparison, let’s look at the competitors in this area: Dropbox charges £62 for 100 GB and Google Drive charges around £38. CrashPlan charges £75 for unlimited storage over one year. That puts ZipDrive at the top of the tree, price-wise. But remember: it combines sync and backup into one product: the others arguably don’t cover both in the same way.
There’s an additional complication of a temporary 20 per cent discount for early sign-up, if you choose to pay before your trial ends.
Getting ZipCloud set up is quick and easy. As soon you sign up for the trial, you’re immediately invited to download its desktop application. Software for Mac, Windows and Linux is available.
Once installed, ZipCloud asked me to choose a folder to back up. It then triggered the backup from my Mac to the cloud.
Once the backup was complete, ZipCloud showed me a status report and some other options.
I clicked the Control Panel button to go to the website and confirm the backup had been completed as planned – everything was there, as I expected.
You might notice that ZipCloud’s website is less minimal than some other sync and backup services, but it’s still extremely usable. The interface is clean and intuitive, and it has plenty of options without being overly complex.
ZipCloud offers cloud backups, much like CrashPlan, although it also makes files accessible over the web.
Uploading the entire contents of your hard drive is likely to be extremely slow with any cloud backup provider, even over a fibre broadband connection. (In my experience, backing up 120 GB of data to CrashPlan took about two months). If your primary reason for choosing ZipCloud is the backup option, ensure your connection speed is fast enough to make it worthwhile.
ZipCloud’s servers are US-based, and as such, they’re covered by the US Patriot Act – as are other services which use servers on US soil. That may make it unsuitable for some types of confidential data, particularly in an enterprise setting. Thankfully, you can the backups feature selectively and only select certain directories for backup.
ZipCloud also offers folder syncing, and this is where it’s closely aligned with Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive. After installing the software on each computer, users can simply drag files into the Sync Folder to see them appear everywhere.
Files are also accessible via a web browser and the software keeps a record of any changes, as it does with Backups.
ZipCloud allows users to share files and folders with other people. This is interesting, since Dropbox has only just opened up the entire folder tree for sharing (before last week, you could only share files in the Public folder). It seems that ZipCloud was a step ahead.
To share a file, hover over it and click the Share link.
You can then enter the email address of the recipient and send a message. (Incidentally, note that the file name it has picked up below is incorrect.)
Once shared, the recipient gets an invitation email from ZipCloud – in theory. I sent an invite to myself at another email address, and two hours later, it still hasn’t arrived and wasn’t in my spam folder.
If you want to remove permissions, you can click Kick Out to remove access from a previously authorised user.
Location is an interesting feature which I haven’t seen in other backup or sync applications. On the website, under the Devices menu, you can view information about your registered device(s), including its online/ offline status, current ISP, country and city. The software also tracks IP addresses from previous logins.
Using the Maps button, you can find your device with near-pinpoint accuracy.
In theory, this is handy – it’s a similar feature that Apple offers through iCloud, and is designed to locate your gadgets if they’re stolen. But it seems like a bit of a mismatch to have this in a backup and file syncing service.
Most importantly, though, there’s absolutely no mention of this location tracking feature on the website. There’s no word of it on the company home page. No topics about Location in the Help Center. I did a search of their site through Google for ‘location’ and ‘stolen’, and not one single page referred to this feature.
Location tracking is tucked away in a tab within a menu in the application, and you might not even realise it’s there.
ZipCloud is attractive, despite being fairly expensive. It’s refreshing to see a combination of sync and backup in one product.
There are a few things that make me sceptical, though. That ‘unlimited’ claim on the home page is one. Another is a testimonial, supposedly from an anonymous British user, that uses a couple of American English words.
But the Location feature was the most revealing part of ZipDrive, because it highlighted the fact that the product isn’t really finished. Tracking someone’s IP address and location and displaying it online – right down to a Google Map display of their house – is important enough to warrant at least one mention. I tried really hard, but I couldn’t find any reference to this. In my opinion, it’s not good enough to tuck this away without (a) some kind of explanation, or (b) a way to easily switch it off.
ZipDrive is good at the basics, and it’s a good product in theory, but more needs to be done to inspire trust if it’s going to succeed.
Category: Initial Reviews
About the AuthorClaire Broadley is a technical author and SEO copywriter. She reviews cloud applications and SaaS products for Rated Cloud.
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