My quest in finding the best Online Backup/Sync software

Finding the best – or even a practical one – turned out to be a harder task than I could imagine.

What I wanted was an online backup tool which I also could use to sync data (mainly my webprojects) between multiple computers. This means I need to be able to sync multiple folders in various locations of the computer, not just a single designated sync folder.

Note that some or all of my assumptions/experiences may be based on my individual environment/situation, for example my hardware (Vista Home Premium SP2, 2.83 ghz quadcore, 4 GB RAM) or bandwidth limitation (10/2 Mbit). Also note that the software/service could have been updated since the publish time of this post so please check the software/service suppliers directly and don’t take my experiences as hard facts.

Mamut Online Backup

I first tried Mamut Online Backup (no/uk) because I got free space there (business relationship). It seems to do everything I want it to do, but seems to use up a lot of memory when performing backups. It also seem to spend a lot of time uploading data to the server.


I already had a Dropbox account but that software only syncs data in the designated folder; it can’t sync folders in various locations of the computer so that’s not practical enough for my needs. Besides I didn’t praticularly like their terms and conditions (We reserve the right to suspend or end the Services at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice).

Google Drive

Had a look at Google Drive but Google’s terms and conditions are even worse than Dropbox where they explicitly state that all content uploaded to their server are theirs to use freely. Note that the line “The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones” could perhaps save you in court. They also have means in some services to remove the content stored at Google. As with Dropbox they also have the neat line “Google may also stop providing Services to you, or add or create new limits to our Services at any time“.

Google’s terms and conditions
When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.


I took a look at SugarSync and they just seemed perfect for me. I even bought a month subscription for 30 GB more storage space for $4.99. Slick, simple design and decent terms and conditions/privacy policy. When I really started using the software I realized they may not be the perfect solution after all. Syncing hierarchical multiple folders was very akward. Let’s say you have a C:/Users/MyUser/Fruits/Apple folder and you decide to sync it. You then decide o’what the heck let’s just sync the entire Fruits folder. So you add C:/Users/MyUser/Fruits as well. You now have both of these folders synced and listed as individual folders. The weird thing is if you had a Pears folder in that fruit folder; you could easily sync it by clicking the “Manage Subfolders” button in the Fruits folder and then check Pears, but you can’t check/uncheck the Apple folder because it’s already synced as an individual folder. If you are like me and prefer to “do it right” and have a logical hierarchy of folders with the uppermost on top you’d need to delete the Apple folder from sync which would mean delete all the data on the server associated with the folder; and then re-add (and re-upload) the Apple folder when organizing the subfolders of the Fruits folder. Phew. It seems very, very akward compared to just check/uncheck which folders you’d want to sync – finished, done, perfect.

Also the memory usage in SugarSync is just ridicolous. After 10 minutes of uploading data SugarSync is already using 500MB+ of memory. At some point it was using 1,2 GB of memory and it didn’t even help to restart SugarSync. I don’t know if it’s a “rare” scenario, but I do know it happens for both Vista (myself) and Win7 users. Simply do a quick google search and you’ll find plenty of cases. As far as I know some of these SugarSync support cases are very recent f.ex. (last reply merely 7 days ago) and

AVG LiveKive

I have to admit I’m a slight fan of AVG’s free anti-virus software. Very easy to use and works great. I’m willing to almost look past the super-annoying toolbar, changing my browser’s search engine and adding annoying text to my e-mails (“This e-mail has been checked by AVG” blabla). All of these issues can be quickly neutralized when you know how to do it.

Anyway, appearently they also have a online backup/sync software called AVG LiveKive. I was enthusiastic at first and this time I’ve learned not to get ahead of myself and buy a subscription just yet, so I downloaded the 30-day trial version. It looked absolutely perfect, a bit messy GUI but I don’t really care too much about that. It didn’t use all of my memory so all that’s left to do is try it.

Of course, there had to be a catch. When navigating to the “Back Up” tab, you first get the options of backing up Documents, Pictures, Movies etc but I wanted to backup (and sync) other folders so I clicked the “Advanced” tab.  Turns out the performance is incredibly slow when trying to navigate through the folders. Talk about falling at the finishing line. It seems to be an issue when you have a floppy disk. I don’t know the technicalities, but the issue can be described and followed here: Yes it also happens on Windows 7 and they have explicitly told us they won’t (can’t?) fix it.

It might be seen as a minor inconvinience for some but what if you have a laptop with a built in floppy disk, what then? Moving on then..


I also checked out SkyDrive because according to the Verge comparison article, SkyDrive supported syncing folders outside a designated folder. Turns out they didn’t.


SpiderOak, what can you say? It has none of the shortcomings as the previously tested softwares/services has/had. Basically LiveKive is the same thing (AVG resells SpiderOak), but in SpiderOak the slowdown bug is nonexistant.

Update 14th of May 2012: I’m currently using SpiderOak and I really love everything about the product and their focus on security. The only catch is that their server is located in America, thus being an European my throughput is fairly low and it takes a long time to upload big files.
No matter how much I would prefer to use SpiderOak I might have to look for alternatives as it’s just not practical enough for me.

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