Copy vs Dropbox

Posted on Posted in Techy

Update 28/08/14: Since Dropbox announced they give you 1000GB for $99 a month, not much point considering Copy or anything else.

I’ve posted in the past comparing Dropbox to Google Drive and SkyDrive (now OneDrive) and my conclusion was that Dropbox was the best in terms of stability and reliability, and therefore the first choice for important files and documents. At the time, I used SkyDrive for additional storage because their 100GB plan was cheaper that an extra 100GB of Dropbox storage.

However, since then, Dropbox doubled their storage and pricing has changed for everyone, including Google Drive’s crazy $10 a month for 1TB of storage. There’s a good comparison table here.

So, where does Copy fit into all this? Copy has by far the best free referral programme out there. They give you 5GB of free storage for each referral – that’s huge! I have some files that take up a lot of space, but wasn’t willing to pay $10 a month to backup, but would definitely put in Copy if I’ve got enough free storage space. I’m also starting to build up a lot of video files at work, which will quickly put us outside the 100GB Dropbox plan.

So, I signed up for 2 Copy accounts, one for personal files and one for work and began testing it out. My thoughts below aren’t a comprehensive analysis of the system, just my observations on my interactions with it.

Website and Apps

Copy has a nice clean interface. It’s simple, not always entirely intuitive, and is perhaps a little lacking in features. Their Windows app installs nicely and works well enough. Their Android app doesn’t use the Android accounts feature so after not using it for a few weeks, it required me to login again – very annoying if you only use it once in a while. Dropbox stays logged in all the time (potential security risk but I think you can put a passcode on it).

Syncing

Copy indexes and analyses your files quite quickly. Probably quicker than Dropbox in my opinion, but then I have a lot more files in Dropbox to analyse. It also syncs quickly, but uploads seem to be capped at 250kB/s (21.6GB per day) which is a pain if you’re uploading a lot of files. I’ve just uploaded 200GB and it took me about 10 days. Obviously even double that would make a big difference when uploading large files.

This thread indicates that as of June 09, 2013, Copy’s number one priority was to increase upload speeds. That obviously hasn’t happened.

Not a deal breaker for me, but easily is if you want to be constantly updating large files and need them to sync quickly.

Support and Business Model

The syncing speed issue for me highlights a bigger problem. Over a year ago, they said their number one priority was increasing upload speeds, and that apparently hasn’t happened. I’ve contacted their support centre 3 times and in every case, my tickets have automatically been closed without being answered. I’m yet to receive a human response to any of my questions.

All of this gives me significant doubts about their business model and their ability to compete in this market. I wonder if they’ve come along with too good a referral model to reasonably sustain, without having the infrastructure to compete with Dropbox. Dropbox has spent a lot of time and energy pushing their business offering and are aiming to be the place to store files – they want to be the platform that people use. Those are big goals, and they have a solid business strategy in place to achieve that.

Copy on the other hand, appears too good to be true, with no clear business model to back it up. Perhaps they’ll get enough paid plans to support the free ones, but I’m just not convinced.

Cheating the Referral System

The other compelling reason I don’t think Copy will get enough paying users is because you can pay $5 to have someone cheat the referral system and load you up with 500GB+ of free storage. I did that on both my free accounts and have 550GB+ on each.

I’m aware that the bogus referrals could be removed at any time, so I wouldn’t be putting important files up there, and I’ll be keeping local backups of them. I did it half as a test to see if it would work. Dropbox have limits on the amount of referrals you can acquire and again, it’s making me think Copy is too good to be true. I can’t see how it can be sustainable as a business.

While writing this, I noticed that the Copy referral page says “Earn 5 GB for yourself and for up to 5 people with your referral code.” and then “Invite people using this referral form and earn 5 GB, for a maximum of 25 GB.” That indicates they may have a limit on referrals – not sure. The Fiverr deals are still up and I can’t find anything in their documentation about this change.

Fair Storage

Copy has a policy called fair storage. When you have a 2GB file shared between 2 accounts, it counts as 1GB in each account as opposed to 2GB in each as it does with Dropbox. Sounds great – sounds fair – I like it. Dropbox sucks on this point.

However, their storage calculator doesn’t seem to work correctly. I have 2 free personal copy accounts, both of which are part of a ‘Company’. Companies are free for up to 5 users and the storage is based on the personal allowance. IE it shouldn’t get you anything other than a folder in your Copy account with the company’s files kept separately from your own.

Account 1

Shared files in company: 30GB

Personal files not in company and not shared: 225GB

Usage: 70GB

Account 2

Shared files in company: 30GB

Personal files not in company and not shared: 0GB

Usage: 0GB

There’s something seriously wrong with the usage calculator there! I’ve never seen that on Dropbox – the usage is exactly the same as the files.

Conclusions

I’m using copy to share large, non-important files. I’ll probably be keeping local backups of them and they won’t change very often. Unless they make improvements in their business model, I don’t see Copy being around in 5 years time and therefore don’t recommend it as a stand-alone backup/sync tool.

The fact it syncs data between systems means that if Copy shuts down, you should retail your data, so that should mitigate the risk to some degree.

Dropbox on the other hand, is still my service of choice in this arena. It’s just so reliable. I feel like my data is safe with Dropbox.

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