Alternatives to Dropbox cloud syncing: iCloud, Google Drive, SkyDrive
Good news, everyone! iCloud syncing is already available in 1Password 4 for iOS. 1Password will also support iCloud in a free update to the Mac App Store version of 1Password for Mac. We’re working around the clock to get iCloud implemented in the Mac app, now that we’ve started supporting it in the iOS app first. As exciting as this update will be, we are unable to give you a release date.
Additionally, we are enthusiastically investigating Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and whether they can be the fantastic solutions 1Password customers deserve. If they turn out to be a good fit for syncing 1Password data between multiple devices, we will definitely announce it as soon as possible. Subscribe to our blog, follow us on Twitter, and like our Facebook page to be the first to find out if they are a good fit for your 1Password data!
Dropbox does two things that are very important for syncing 1Password data.
- It provides the necessary programming tools (APIs) for all of the platforms that we support: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone 7.
- It provides syncing to truly native filesystems for Mac and Windows.
The short answer to “Have you considered X as an alternative sync solution” is “Yes” for every value of X that people have asked about. We have considered them, and have had to reject them for various technical reasons.
Each item in your 1Password data is stored in its own, separate, file. This is great for syncing in that it means that only the changes need to sync and this can be done by file and folder syncing. This not only makes syncing faster and cheaper, it also makes it much more reliable and robust against potential data corruption. But this also means that 1Password needs to read lots of different files quickly as it runs. Dropbox does fast syncing while storing the local files on the native local file systems, allowing it to function properly.
As an illustration, an alternative such as WebDAV (which we worked on extensively but had to abandon before we moved to Dropbox) provides a file system abstraction layer that is just too slow for 1Password. It can hang when we try to access some file that it hasn’t cached properly. Also WebDAV isn’t designed for updating many files is quick succession. It’s not that WebDAV is bad, but it isn’t suitable for how we would use it.
Everything else we’ve looked at (and we have looked at many things) suffers not only from the same problems we saw with WebDAV, but they also lack usable APIs for all the platforms we need to support. It may be possible, for example, to sync data to an Android or iOS device using SugarSync, Wuala, SpiderOak, etc., but it isn’t possible to sync that data in a way that would make it available to 1Password on those devices.
Both Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive appear to meet a very important technical requirement we have of a syncing system (native file system access), but we need to make sure they satisfy other requirements as well. We're checking out these cloud file storage and sync services to see if they can be an option for syncing your 1Password data file. Although we don't have anything to announce just yet, you can be sure that this is a topic near and dear to our hearts.
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