Wuala: An Alternative To Dropbox With Security In Mind

Update: Wuala is shutting down and won’t be available after 15 November 2015. We don’t recommend this service anymore.

Dropbox is great, but it is not the best. While we love Dropbox for its versatility and cross-platform compatibility, we also hate it for its inability to secure files in the cloud. We have to either live with it, and leave our files vulnerable in the cloud, or make the extra effort to encrypt the files before syncing them online. Alternatively, we can switch to another cloud storage app that places security as the top most priority. Wuala is one such app.

Wuala is a cross-platform compatible cloud storage app that allows you to sync your local files to the cloud and access them from another computer. Wuala encrypts all your files before they are uploaded to the server. In the server, each file is split up into many different pieces and stored in multiple places, so you can be assured that they are secured. In addition, your password is never transmitted, which means that no one – not even the employees at Wuala – can see your private files.

Download and install Wuala on your computer. On the first run, it will prompt you to create an account (or sign in to your existing account if you have one).

wuala-signin

Once you are logged in, you will see your dashboard with several folders (Document, Music, Photos, Videos). Unlike Dropbox, Wuala does not integrate with your filesystem. Instead, it mounts itself as a drive in your system.

wuala-folder

You can get it to sync with any folder in your computer. To do so, click on the “New -> Sync” option and select the local folder that you want to sync.

wuala-sync

It also works the other way – syncing your Wuala document to your local computer. You just have to select the folder and go to “File -> Synchronize with this computer“.

There are several sharing options in Wuala. By default, all your files and folders are marked as Private. No one, other than you, can view your files. You can, however, change the file permission to Share or Public. For Share option, you can share your files with your contacts, either via email or web link. For Public option, the file/folder is publicly available for everyone.

wuala-sharing-option

The Preferences section of Wuala is pretty comprehensive, covering everything from your account detail, connection speed, cache size, filesystem integration, notification and many more options.

wuala-preferences

When you sign up for a free account, you will receive 1Gb of storage space. To many of us, this is too little. If you need a lot of online storage space, and at the same time, you have plenty of free space in your local hard drive, you can trade your local space in exchange for online space.

It works like this: you need to first specify the amount of hard disk space you are willing to trade (say 100GB). Depending on the amount of time you are online (for example, you are connected to Wuala 70% of the time), you will be given a free online storage space equivalent to the product of the hard drive space you are trading and the time you spent online. In this case, you will have access to 70Gb (70% * 100Gb) of online storage space.

wuala-trading

Alternatively, you can refer your friends to use Wuala and earn up to 3Gb of storage space. Lastly, there is always the premium plans that allow you to buy storage space for a annual fee.

Wuala comes with plenty of features and it is really an enjoyment to use it. Personally, I like its security feature and the ability to choose the folders that you want to sync. The only gripe is the 1Gb storage space. Most online storage services offer 2Gb (some offer up to 5Gb) for their free account. Upon comparison, Wuala’s 1Gb storage space is really pathetic and unattractive. With competitors like SpiderOak and Ubuntu One, this could really make a lot of differences.

Wuala is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone and Android.

6 comments

  1. So when you choose to make a folder public so you can share it with others, does that mean the files are no longer encrypted (or they are only encrypted for the private folders)?  How does the other person read the files if they are encrypted?

    • For obvious reason, if you make the folder publicly available, the files within the folder will not be encrypted. 

  2. interesting, though I’m not sure I understand the difference between sync and backup on wuala. Why would you ever just back something up instead of sync? or is the sync stuff not stored on the cloud?

    • To me, backing up means storing important data that you don’t want to lose. These data could be the system files that are essential for the functioning of your computer, but you won’t need them all the times.

      Syncing means the changes you make to a file on one computer is reflected on another computer.

      • Ah I guess, I’m choosing between livedrive and wuala.

        Wuala
        Pros: Linux client and meant to be more secure because encryption before sending off, but if files are being stored on other peoples computers as opposed to on there servers what stops ppl using brute force to hack there way in?
        Cons: Need clarification on security statement above and cost

        Livedrive
        Pros: Cheap!
        Cons: Files stored on server then encrypted, have to use sftp mount on linux (no linux client)

  3. Good review – there are a few recent changes though:
    You get 2GB of space with the FREE version, but now there is no
    restriction to the number of computers you can sync/backup (from 2).

    It gives you the ability to upload and sync any folder on your computer.

    It is the only service that offers such a broad device and OS support
    with apps for iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry, Symbian and WinMo.

    On the Free version the upload/download is faster than when reviewed
    Also if you use the below referral code you get 500MB extra on top of
    the Free 2GB or 16GB extra on any of the paid-for services!
    http://db.tt/7UuDW32
    Hope it helps someone.

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