Wualas weak spot

Wuala.com is very special in many aspects. It is the only cloud storage concept which uses a well-known P2P technology combined with social network features like groups, commenting, tagging and starring. The underlying BitTorrent technology is well-known in terms of security and reliability, so they call it “secure online storage” because your data is always encrypted. Even the local cache! A unique feature compared to other services.

The collaboration concept is a typical Web 2.0 social network, where you can invite friends to groups, share your content with others and search public available data. You can also access your files with your web browser to read them but not to store them 😦 They even implemented the Mac time machine feature, where you can go back in time and watch your files how they changed.

The performance is fine for a typical end-user and the pricing competes with Amazon S3. They provide a Desktop client which works on almost every mainstream desktop operating system (Windows, Mac, Linux) and is very user-friendly and easy to use. The local filesystem integration works also on all platform and is really well done (beside some urgent needed bug fixes 🙂

The company behind started from a university spinoff in Switzerland and was recently bought by LaCi, a well-known french brand for external hard disks.

Everything looks fine but something bemused me. The “secure online storage” is the distinct feature of Wuala compared to Amazon S3, Dropbox, SkyDrive, Google Drive and Co but also it’s weakness. It isolates Wuala from the rest of the world. When you follow the Web 2.0 hype you see that the interaction between social services is where everyone goes, the services and customers. Let’s give some examples.

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Ideas for Wuala workarounds

Hi Thomas,

thanks for the honest answer which fits my impression. When your product offers the customer a feature you must expect they will also use it 🙂 For a normal customer like me, a wuala file share will be treated as share and I expect the same stability and reliance.  Nevertheless there are possible workarounds as first improvements:

  • file shares are allowed to be slow: implement a throttle into the FSI when uploading or downloading to many files at once. You have already one in your wuala client. Reuse it.
  • a file share can be read only: In case you can’t guarantee in offline mode that write operations are 100% save that means they will end up some-when in the wuala cloud, switch the FSI to “read only” when offline. The user will understand that although he won’t be happy.

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Amazon S3 Clients

Had some spare time to google actual versions of Amazon S3 clients which are still supported and hat new versions in 2010:

  • http://www.jungledisk.com/ – very good client but uses DRM to protect the software. Mounts your Amazon S3 account to a local share. Clients for Windows and Mac available. Don’t work behind firewall when jungledisk.com is blocked 😦
  • http://www.s3fox.net/ – good and simple firefox plugin
  • http://tntdrive.com – Mounts your Amazon S3 account to a local share. Windows only (32/64bit)
  • jets3t – that’s a famos java framework for S3 to backup your data. Has also a simple Java Applet client Continue reading

Stability of Wuala client is a pain

I’m using the wuala client since one week with the idea to migrate all of my relevant data to the wuala cloud. Additionally I’m sharing some local space and bought some additional space to support the wuala team.

From the concept view I’m very pleased with wuala.I really like the client. The idea and usability of the wuala client is very good, simple to use and yet powerfull enough to tweak some performance. Integration into the host operating system as local share works also fine.Working offline is also cool and performance also. The client performs fine as long you play around with less files.

Now comes the but. A very big BUT. In case you store some GB of data with 10.000 and more files you get a mess. I had since last week about 6 Java exceptions killing the client and some crashes without even an error message. This is not what I excpected.

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Local Backup of Online Wuala files

Hot topic with high attention to the user is still BACKUP! There are many comments to the corresponding wuala tickets with a lot of assumptions. What is not clear to me is what they really want and why. I’ll try to write some arguments with a narrow solution.

While Wuala is a very promising cloud storage service they don’t give you a promise that you will never loose your files. This is fine for the given price tag, as long as I can take the precaution myself in case I care. When using Wuala as cloud storage backup for local files you are fine, because Wuala offers already a “Backup to the cloud” feature.

In case you just want to store your data in the storage cloud you have bad luck. Unfortunately there is only a manual, error prone way to backup your data. What’s missing is an automatic feature which keeps a local shadow copy of your cloud files up to date. There are several ways how to implement this:

  • “Enhanced local Cache”: Wuala has already a “local Cache” feature which could be enhanced so you can flag directories to be always locally cached
  • “Enhance Backup”: the existing Backup feature could offer an additional option “Backup Cloud folder to local folder”. That would be the best solution in terms of the greater flexibility to add safety features, e.g:
    • check by random the checksums of several files in the local backup folder to replace the backup copy with a new one from the cloud and inform the user when the hard disk starts to degrate. This would be an incredible feature and easy to be understood by customers.
    • the local folder could be a fileshare in your network

With such a simple feature, Wuala could compensate the missing “promise” to guarantee your data.

Amazon S3 and Wuala hard facts (II)

In my first post about Amazon S3 and Wuala I just made a very simple technical comparison about both services. Due to the great response I provide you with a deeper review.

Compare Price

Comparing both service for their cost is tricky, because their pricing concepts differs in many aspects. Especially the fact that you can trade your local storage for free cloud storage flaws every comparison.

Amazon S3:

  • first 50 TB / used storage per month 0,150 USD per GB
  • PUT, COPY, POST or LIST 0,01 USD per 1.000 requests
  • GET and all other requests 0,01 USD per 10.000 requests
  • up to 10 TB / month outgoing traffic 0,150 USD per GB
  • Third party client software for desktop integration cost something, e.g. JungleDisk 3$ per month

Wuala:

  • First 1 GB are free (send me a comment and I’ll reply with an activation code for 2 GB)
  • You can invite friends and get additional storage
  • You can share local storage to the wuala cloud and get additional storage
  • You can buy storage (see list)
  • Traffic is included Continue reading