ZumoDrive: Friendly Cloud Storage with Benefits

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.

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