There is no doubt that Dropbox is the most popluar choice in cloud storage and their valuation at over $4 billion dollars certainly reflects how popular they are. While Dropbox is popular there are many other services that offer similar features and could easily give Dropbox some serious competition. Bitcasa is a relatively new cloud storage service with the goal of becoming your hard drive in the cloud but how do they compare to Dropbox? I take a look at 11 features and compare them.
Operating System and Desktop Client
Dropbox has always offered desktop clients for Windows, Mac and Linux. This made them great for having your files with you no matter what operating system you used. The desktop clients are well polished and run well. The clients offer a great feature set on the desktop to be able to share files easily but only in the Dropbox folder.
Bitcasa has a Windows and Mac client out of beta, the Linux client is still in development and they are working on a headless version. The Windows and Mac clients are fairly stable but lack some features that would be nice to have like the ability to pause uploads, set bandwidth limits and see what files are currently being uploaded. Sharing from the desktop can be done, and is easy enough but not as easy as Dropbox to share files with friends and family.
At this time the Bitcasa desktop client is just not as nice or polished as the Dropbox client but it has improved a great deal since they launched in February. With the new plans and pricing announcement from Bitcasa in November 2013, the Linux client when ready will only be available to users on the new plans. Existing users will not be able to use the Linux client without switching to a new plan. This appears to me as a bait and switch and clearly puts Dropbox ahead of Bitcasa.
Free Account and Storage
Don’t believe what others tell you, when it comes to free space size matters! Dropbox still offers only 2GB of free space. You can earn up to 18GB by referring people but if you are not interested in doing that you are stuck at only 2GB for free but you can link as many computers to that account as you want. You can still do a lot with 2GB but don’t plan on using it to keep all of your files in Dropbox.
Bitcasa starts with a generous
10GB 5GB for free. You can do a lot with a 5GB of free cloud storage. That is probably enough to keep the majority of your documents, a selection of your music, photos and even videos in Bitcasa. The good part of the new pricing plans is you can earn up to 20GB of free space, the bad news is you can only connect up to 3 devices now. Bitcasa just destroyed one of their advantages over Dropbox If you are willing to refer people to Dropbox you can earn more space but Bitcasa wins this round if you just want a free account without doing anything more.
Bitcasa still gives you more free space and you can earn up to 20GB but the limit on only 3 devices makes Bitcasa the loser in this category now.
Dropbox has made their paid plans larger while keeping the prices the same as the older plans. They even upgraded all of the existing paid users to the new plans at the same price. That is great but if you are putting all of your documents, music, videos and photos into Dropbox 100GB can be gone pretty quick and then you have to pay more.
Bitcasa has only one paid plan, infinite storage space. Pay the same as a Dropbox 100GB account and never worry about running out of space.
Bitcasa, effective November 19, 2013 has changed their pricing structure. They still offer an infinite plan but at the incredibly HIGH price of $999.00/year. The other plans are a little more reasonable with 1TB available for $99.00/year and a Pro plan with 5TB for $499.00/year. The 1TB plan is still a better price than any of Dropbox plans but there is a catch again. You can only connect up to 5 devices and only 180 day file version history. Bitcasa had this category won previously with the Infinite plan but the new pricing plans and limits on the number of devices destroyed the lead they previously had.
Dropbox works with a large number of third party web and mobile applications. It makes it easy to access your Dropbox files and add new files using services like IFTTT. This is true of many mobile apps as well. This is a great advantage that Dropbox has over many other cloud storage services.
Bitcasa is still working on their API. Until it is ready you will not see the type of integration that Dropbox currently has.
Bitcasa has now announced an API that could make it just as easy to use with other applications like Dropbox. The launch of the API could mean we might start to see some interesting uses of Bitcasa on services like IFTTT and Zapier.
Sharing large files can be difficult but both Dropbox and Bitcasa make it easy to share your latest photos,
videos or other files that you need to send to family and friends. The steps you take to share the files are different but it is easy enough to do with both services.
Number of Computers
The point of having Dropbox or Bitcasa is to have your files with you on all of computers you own. To make it seemless to move from your home computer to your laptop to your tablet to your work computer and just have your files there. Both Dropbox and Bitcasa let you connect as many computers and devices as you like assuming they have a client or app available.
In light of all of the NSA leaks from Edward Snowden keeping your files encrypted and safe has become more important than ever. No one wants the government poking around in your files whether you have something to hide or not.
Dropbox uses secure sockets layer (SSL) to transfer files to an from Dropbox and stores files at rest using AES-256 bit encryption. Unfortunately Dropbox also holds the encryption key so it is possible for them to view your files. Their rules state Dropbox employees are prohibited from viewing the content of files, so the question is do you trust them?
Bitcasa also uses secure sockets layer (SSL) to transfer files and stores them using AES-256 bit encryption. Bitcasa uses a form of convergent encryption on files to help keep them secure and encrypted. This form of encryption is perhaps better than Dropbox but might not be as safe as using a private encryption key. As ExtremeTech puts it “while convergent encryption is perfectly secure on the face of it, it is more vulnerable than a private key method. Those with files to directly compare could identify a piece of data, and in extreme cases, partial knowledge of a file can weaken the encryption.”
This is the main thing Dropbox does very well, syncing your files between your computers and to their cloud servers. The great part about sync is even if you are offline your files are available and then sync up again when you are back online. You can even sync files to your mobile device by marking them as a favorite. If you edit those favorite files on your mobile they will also sync up back to your main computers.
When Bitcasa came out of beta in February this is the main feature that was removed. Bitcasa does not provide for the syncing of your data between computers, they provide a cloud based hard drive that you can access from multiple computers or other devices. If you are connected to the Internet you have no problem, but if you are on your laptop and need access to a file in Bitcasa you would be out of luck because their are no local copies of files. Mobile devices can favorite files, much like Dropbox, and they are downloaded to the mobile device, but editing them on the mobile device does not automatically sync the edited file back to Bitcasa. You would need to manually upload the file again.
While Dropbox excels at file sync, it is limited to syncing only the data in the Dropbox folder. There are some exceptions to this but for the average user if the file or folder is not on the Dropbox folder it is not copied/backed up. Forget to copy it to the Dropbox folder and you are out of luck.
Bitcasa offers a better backup feature. They call it mirroring, and it makes a copy available in Bitcasa for you to access. Files in the mirror are read only from other locations, but changes done to the original files are copied to the Bitcasa mirror version. You can mirror any folder on your hard drive. It is not as full featured as other cloud backup applications but it does offer the ability to backup all of your files no matter where they are on your computer.
There will be some that say Dropbox is ahead in mobile access but in my use of both apps they are pretty close. Both apps will copy your photos and videos to the cloud automatically. You can favorite files and have them download to your device. Dropbox is a little ahead when you edit a text file because it will automatically upload the changes, but that is perhaps the only edge I could find and it is not enough to push them ahead in this category.
Dropbox has put a lot of time and energy into their web portal and you can manage and do a great deal of things just from your web browser.
The web portal for Bitcasa has improved greatly since they were in beta, even since they have launched, but it still has a way to go to become as useful as the Dropbox web portal.
Perhaps because Dropbox has been around longer and I have used their web portal more I prefer it over the Bitcasa one.
And the Winner Is?
It is hard to believe but Dropbox could now have a serious competitor in cloud storage.
Bitcasa was giving Dropbox some serious competition but with the announcement of their new pricing plans Bitcasa has all but destroyed their chance of taking over the cloud storage lead. While the Bitcasa free plan and 1TB plan do offer more storage space than Dropbox the limits on the number of devices seriously damages the usefulness of Bitcasa to become your hard drive in the cloud.
Whether you choose Dropbox or Bitcasa for your cloud storage service will really depend on a few things. How important is sync to you? If you cannot live without the sync feature then Dropbox will be the service you lean towards although there are other options to sync your files on your local computer or take a look at BitTorrent Sync. The other killer Dropbox section is the API access they have. So many applications can use Dropbox that it makes it hard to not have a Dropbox account.
Bitcasa certainly has come a long way since they started in 2011. Their idea to become your infinite hard drive in the cloud is great for those people that have a lot of data and want to be able to access it where ever they are.
Which service do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments.
If you want to compare Dropbox and Bitcasa side by side here is a table with many of their features compared.
|Free||Yes – 2GB With Referral Plan To Get More||Yes – 5GB With Referral Plan To Get More|
|Size||100GB, 200GB, 500GB||1TB, 5TB, Unlimited|
|Restore Options||Web||Web, Client|
|Multiple Computers||Yes||Yes – Limited to max 5.|
|Support Options||Web||Web, Email|
|File Size Limit||No – Must Be Smaller Than Your Storage Limit.||No|
|Bandwidth Throttling||No – User Adjustable.||No|
|File Versioning||Yes||Yes – Only 180 days|
|Windows Mobile App||No||No|
|Review||Read Dropbox Review||Read Bitcasa Review|
For the record, I currently have both a Dropbox 100GB account and a Bitcasa Infinite account. More and more I find myself using Bitcasa in my day to day work while I use Dropbox more for their API access. I find the two compliment each other very well. You also might want to know that I am an affiliate for Bitcasa and have been and may be one for Dropbox again at some point in the future. Update: While my Bitcasa Infinite account should be grandfathered in with Bitcasa and the new plans I doubt I will keep it. I just don’t think I can trust them after the plan and pricing changes they have announced.