There are quite a few network-drive products out there competing for our attention these days. I’ve tried quite a few (including Box.net and SkyDrive), but narrowed the choice down to the two which seem the best: JungleDisk and DropBox.
JungleDisk attracts me mostly because I can use my existing Amazon S3 storage behind the JungleDisk tool and pay only for the space I actually use. (Note, JD now also uses RackSpace CloudFiles, which actually looks even better than S3). DropBox is free for 2GB, then a hefty 99 USD annually, for 50GB. Round one to JungleDisk, in my view.
Then we come to the user-interface. Both tools integrate with Windows and Linux, JD using drive mapping to expose the storage and DropBox using a special folder inside My Documents, with icon overlays to indicate file status. Both support drag/drop access and run a small tray-resident UI application.
But DropBox is just so, so much nicer to use than JD in the everyday Windows context. It feels better integrated and the UI seems cleaner. Other folk have blogged about this difference and I must concur – DropBox has the edge.
Now to the subject which prompted this post in the first place. Neither of these products appears to handle proxy servers particularly well, especially when switching between proxy / no-proxy. If I restart Windows and forget to switch off the proxy in JD, here’s the mess I’m greeted with when Windows starts:
Yuk. Can’t it simply notice that the proxy isn’t responding, log the fact / decorate the tray icon, and leave it for me to sort out? It gets worse: if I click on the links (for more information) look what I get:
Is this really what they want the user to see? This is awful.
DropBox is slightly better, but still doesn’t work properly if I leave the proxy on, and restart. No nasty dialogs, but the network connection isn’t resolved, even if I set it to ‘auto-detect proxy settings’ which according to the DropBox site should use the IE settings. Why can’t these tools auto-detect proxies properly?
DropBox files are cached on the local machine which means if the network is down I can still work on all my files locally, and re-sync when I next connect. JungleDisk does cache your files, but in a pretty inaccessible way in your profile. The path will be something like C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\JungleDisk\cache\e9998872111157539d8880eca4456345-default
Another good feature of DropBox which isn’t available in JungleDisk is sharing files and folders: in JD, everything is private.
DropBox gets so many things right. The one and only feature I want from JungleDisk is the S3 / CloudFiles backing store. Obviously, the DropBox business model is built around the 99 USD annual charge so I don’t know whether this can/will ever happen.