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Storage

Ubuntu One For Windows
At a glance
ProductCanonical Ubuntu One For Windows   [Website]
SummaryWindows client for Ubuntu's cloud storage and sync service.
Pros• 5 GB free storage
Cons• Can't share files from all local folders
• Files not automatically encrypted
• Versioning not supported

Typical Price: $0

If you’re looking for cloud-based storage, there are numerous services vying to sell you a monthly or annual subscription. 

In the non-Linux world, Dropbox and SugarSync, compared here, are popular choices.  For Linux users, Ubuntu One, a cloud-based storage and synchronization service, has been available since May 2009. 

Matt initially reviewed Ubuntu One shortly after Canonical, the commercial backer of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, released a beta version of a Windows Client.  Now, with the release of the Windows client, it’s time to take another look at the Windows features.

Setup

The setup for the Windows client is quite simple.  Just go to the Ubuntu One download page and click on the Download now for Windows button.  The Windows client works for Windows XP SP3, Vista and Windows 7.  When you run the 22 MB installer, the setup program runs without any user input and creates a Ubuntu One program group and desktop icon.  The default Ubuntu One folder is created in \username\Ubuntu One for Windows 7 and Vista, and in \Documents and Settings\username\Ubuntu One for Windows XP.

When you first launch the Ubuntu One client, you are presented with a clean, four step screen, shown in Figure 1, to help you finish the setup.  You’ve already finished step 1.

Ubuntu One Setup Configuration

Figure 1: Ubuntu One Setup Configuration

If you already have an Ubuntu One account, you can select Sign In.  If you need to create an account, you can create an account from the sign in page.  Account creation is quite simple.  You merely provide your name and a valid email address.  Ubuntu sends you a confirmation email that contains a 6 character confirmation code as well as a clickable confirmation link.  As you create your account, you are given 5 GB of free storage.

Next, you set up folders for synchronization.  By default, Ubuntu One suggests My Documents, My Pictures and My Music folders and provides a storage estimate for each folder.  You also have the option of choosing additional folders to synchronize. 

As a test, I tried to add a shared folder from a NAS device shown in Figure 2. 

Ubuntu One additional folder setup

Figure 2: Ubuntu One additional folder setup

Here’s where I ran into what I consider a limitation to the product:  You can only add folders for synchronization that reside in the username directory tree.  Figure 3 shows what happened when I tried to add Z:\Droid Backup to my sync folders.

ubuntu1_not_valid

Figure 3: Additional sync folders must be part of the username directory tree

I installed Ubuntu One on multiple computers using several accounts in order to test file sharing.  I had no problems on any of the XP installations, including one installation on my MacBook running Parallels and XP SP3, but I did experience a problem on my Windows 7 (64 bit) computer.  Despite a number of attempts to add folders, the client hung up and became non-responsive as shown in Figure 4. 

Add Folders function non-responsive on  Windows 7

Figure 4: Add Folders function non-responsive on Windows 7

Thus, the only folders I was able to synchronize on my Windows 7 system were folders that I created under the Ubuntu One folder.   Since I only have a single Windows 7 system, I was unable to duplicate this problem on another computer.

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