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Summary:

When I first heard about ZumoDrive, I almost passed it by. I figured that we’ve already pointed out enough file synchronization-type programs using the cloud by now between Live Mesh, Live Sync, Dropbox, SugarSync, etc. Then I saw a few distinctive features that made ZumoDrive a […]

zumodrive-logoWhen I first heard about ZumoDrive, I almost passed it by. I figured that we’ve already pointed out enough file synchronization-type programs using the cloud by now between Live Mesh, Live Sync, Dropbox, SugarSync, etc. Then I saw a few distinctive features that made ZumoDrive a little different. I covered the two main ones in my short video demonstration, but if you missed it, I was impressed by these subtle touches: the ability to integrate MP3 files from the cloud right into iTunes and a way to mark a file for local storage as needed.

Not everyone uses iTunes, so perhaps the integration there isn’t important to you. It really isn’t for me either, but I find it impressive as a demonstration of what’s possible between cloud data and desktop apps. Having said that, let’s take a closer look at ZumoDrive’s service, which is more of an online storage solution than a true sync service.

I’m actually going to start with the pricing model because I find it good and bad at the same time. The good part is that it’s simple; the not-so-good bit is that the simplicity may make it cost ineffective as you need more storage. You’ll get 1GB at no charge to try ZumoDrive, which might be enough for basic data and some media files. If you’re going to synchronize a vast amount of data, however, you’ll pay $2.99 per month for every 10GB block of storage capacity.

So you don’t pay for bandwidth or transfers and the pricing is simple. The downside to me is that there’s currently no discount for higher storage amounts. It doesn’t matter if you want 10GB or 200GB; you’re paying the same flat $3 per 10GB. That’s not a problem with smaller amounts of storage, but even at 50GB, the difference shows. 50GB on Dropbox is $9.99 per month, while that same ten bucks nets you 60GB on SugarSync. ZumoDrive offers you 30GB for that same amount. The service and usability might be worth it to some, but if you’re a “cost-per-gig” watcher, this comes into play.

Like other similar services, there’s a client download and I like that the ZumoDrive supports both PC and Mac devices. In Windows, ZumoDrive sits in the system tray so you can easily access it or check your synchronization status. On a Mac, it quietly sits in the menubar.

One of the nicest touches is how ZumoDrive looks and acts like any other physical, removable drive. It shows as a Z: drive in Windows Explorer while it appears on the Mac desktop as a storage alias.

ZumoDrive in Windows Explorer

A real Z: drive

The virtual appearance of ZumoDrive as an actual drive makes it simple to use. Essentially it’s as if you physically installed a second hard drive or a removable USB drive in your system. You can add files or folders as you see fit and you start out with three default folders: Documents, Music and Pictures. All of these folders plus any other files or folders you add are stored on the ZumoDrive servers. That’s important to note because that’s different from a sync solution; in a case like that, all files and folders would be on all of your devices.

Instead, ZumoDrive behaves more like standard on-line storage, but with benefits. You can mark any files or folders to be kept as a local copy, for example. After all, you can’t access your ZumoDrive without a connection to the web and since the data isn’t synchronized across machines, you won’t have your info without using the offline feature.  You can also access your files in a web browser, so you’re not tied to a particular device. Like many other competing services, you can share files or folders for collaboration. You can even create instant photo albums for viewing on the web.

zumodrive-web

ZumoDrive is positioned well for netbooks because it adds data capacity that behaves like traditional removable storage, i.e.: USB drives or memory cards. It’s not complicated either, although you do have to keep track of what you’re storing locally when you use that feature. The drive mounting is nice but would be more useful if Windows saw it as a network location instead of a removable drive. In Windows 7, for example, I couldn’t save a backup to my ZumoDrive. This might be an issue with the Windows 7 beta, but I thought it was worth a mention.

Long story short: if you’re looking for on-line storage with a nice feature set, ZumoDrive is worth the look. As I said, it’s a private beta for now, but we have several hundred invite codes available to jkOnTheRun readers. Want one? Just hit up the ZumoDrive site and use the code: jkontherun when prompted. Or use this link. Get ‘em while they last!

The ZumoDrive folks are working on a supporting mobile application for both the iPhone and Android platforms. We’ll update you when we hear more on that front.

  1. Kevin,
    Thanks for the review. I want to point out that we are making it so ZumoDrive will appear as a network drive instead of a removable drive soon. Also, we have another feature in the pipeline that will silently watch any folders that you point to; it make those folders available in your ZumoDrive online and on the other devices. That should eliminate the need of periodic backups all together.

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  2. Thank you for this!

    I have been looking to share photos with my mom with something simple she can handle!

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  3. SugarSync also lets you share photos and stream iTunes. Not super psyched about the product (yet), but I do have an annual subscription.

    http://www.sugarsync.com/products/music_photos/sync_music.html

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  4. if i use zumo to keep some of my business private worksheets and documents.. how secure will those documents be to third partys ?

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  5. phatusa, All of your files are transmitted to the server via SSL and then encrypted with AES encryption before we store it in our backend. Only you and people you choose to share with could see your files.

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  6. More options.
    How does this compare with Jungle Drive, which uses the Amazon S3 service to give mountable network drives?

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  7. Sorry, that should be “Jungle Disk”.

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  8. Kevin:

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. After your video tutorial I got an account and it is very cool.

    Just wanted to point one thing out – Based on your write up people may think that you need to manually set what you need locally, but that is not really true. As you use stuff it automatically becomes local till you start running low on space. So you do have to be connected on first access but after that things stay local.

    I use an option that they have that tells Zumo to keep all my documents local. This works well for me as I have less than 250M of docs. Now I always have all my docs on my netbook and I never have to think about when I may need what. I also discovered that they keep old versions on their website.

    With my music I just kept the default settings and I have all the music I have listened to in the last few days locally the rest is in the cloud and will get streamed on demand and then stay local till I start running low on space.

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  9. I’ll have to try this out with OneNote’s internal synching capability. Other services that simply do synching between machines (like DropBox) bypass OneNote’s capabilities and it is possible for data on one computer to be overwritten by data on another.

    OneNote’s synching requires a “shared” drive (like on a network) and ZumoDrive (based on the iTunes example)seems to be the closest to this… fingers crossed!

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  10. “Just wanted to point one thing out – Based on your write up people may think that you need to manually set what you need locally, but that is not really true. As you use stuff it automatically becomes local till you start running low on space. So you do have to be connected on first access but after that things stay local.”

    SamW: that’s a valid point. If you’re web connected and open items on your ZumoDrive, you can lose/close your connection and still have access to the files you opened when you were connected. But as you said, it’s *only* for the files you used while you’re connected. Nice, but sort of limiting and I wouldn’t want folks to think that everything was automatically cached locally by default.

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