The top concerns with cloud storage services

The top concerns with cloud storage services

Summary: A comparison between iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, SugarSync and Box has yielded some interesting issues.


A new survey released by technical support firm FixYa suggests that the top concerns of cloud storage users are the security of a service, storage limitations, file syncing and missing files.

Asking the website's users for commentary on popular cloud storage services iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox, SugarSync and Box, FixYa received several thousand responses, although a spokesperson was unable to confirm the exact amount, according to Computer World.

Cloud Storage - FixYa Report sugarsync google drive dropbox icloud box
Credit: FixYa

"Cloud-based file storage is becoming the expected method for file sharing these days, both on personal devices and in the workplace," FixYa CEO Yaniv Bensadon told the publication. "We hope the FixYa Cloud Storage Report shines a light on these differences so consumers can make an educated decision on which will be best suited for their needs."

The report documents the major issues users face, and what potential fixes are on offer to streamline storage and knock the kinks out of using cloud services.


Popular cloud storage service Dropbox claims over 100 million users worldwide. It is one of the top competitors in the cloud storage market, and its service is compatible with a number of different devices and operating systems.

A force to be reckoned with due to ease of use, 2GB of storage space is offered to individual users for free -- more than enough for casual storage users. However, other cloud storage services including Box and Google Drive offer 5GB of free space; something 25 percent of respondents found irritating.

40 percent of survey respondents stated that security concerns were the top issue when using Dropbox. The firm has experienced some small but not insignificant hacks and breaches in the past, including a situation in 2011 where accounts could be accessed without a password, and a hack this year where spam emails were sent to Dropbox users.

These issues were fixed, but user trust remains strained.

In addition, 15 percent experienced continual file syncing issues, and "laggy" response times annoyed ten percent of the survey participants.

Google Drive

Google Drive, relatively new due to its official launch in 2012, was the next phase in the tech giant's development of its Google Docs platform.

When using Google Drive, the top complaint was missing files, reported by 30 percent of respondents. In addition, 20 percent experienced synchronization issues. 20 percent found that Google Drive's automatic conversion to Google Docs irritating, and 20 percent cited "unknown" errors. The remaining ten percent referred to "other" problems with the cloud service.

"Although security concerns are not as prominent amongst FixYa users compared to other cloud devices, Drive still experiences some general usability issues that need to be addressed," FixYa says. "For the most part, however, these issues can be solved quickly."


SugarSync without Quickbooks support topped the priority list for 30 percent of users. The popular accounting software is a must-have for those in finance, and so immediately a market is lost due to this service flaw. A quarter of respondents disliked storage restrictions, which are based on a 30-day trial or "a five gigabyte free plan buried at the bottom of their sign-up page." According to FixYa, "pricing is higher than other cloud services (iCloud notwithstanding)."

30 percent stated that file synchonization issues -- including a distinct problem with iTunes files -- was their main gripe with SugarSync. FixYa says that iTunes files are "notoriously dodgy", as SugarSync has problems sharing between different mobile devices. 15 percent chose "other".


With the rollout of the Mountain Lion operating system, Apple's iCloud storage took a beating. 35 percent are reporting synchronization issues, whether it is trying to sign up for the service, back up files or syncing apps like the Notes feature between devices.

Many Apple customers are heavy users of iCloud, as it allows easy transition and synchnization between Apple devices. However, 15 percent also reported problems synching non-Apple devices to the cloud. In addition, 15 percent were dissatisfied with the amount of storage available. 10 percent said that "other" issues irritated them.


Box, launched in 2005, found itself in the firing line over security issues. 25 percent chose security concerns as the main problem with the service -- popular with SMBs -- whereas another 25 percent experienced file upload issues.

"While security issues do not appear to be a problem for large-scale business accounts, FixYa users have reported concerns with security for their free personal accounts," the firm said.

Box is a little different than other cloud storage providers, as it is working towards a native, collaborative management platform rather than acting simply as a file locker. However, as Google moves towards the same principle, Box's popularity may soon be in jeopardy.

Problems with backup files were also reported by 20 percent of respondents, as was "laggy response" times. Ten percent chose "other."

Topics: Cloud, Apple, Data Management, Google, Mobility

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  • What about SkyDrive????

    Any discussion of cloud storage without including SkyDrive is incomplete. Period.
    • This is Zdnet

      They prefer to overlook Microsoft in favour of Apple, Google and other companies.
      Tim Acheson
    • SkyDrive on Windows 8 is beautiful

      The integration with Office and Explorer is also seamless and amazing.

      ZDNet misses the mark yet again.
    • Get Your Head Out of the Cloud: Beam It Over Scotty

      How about including anti-cloud file-sharing & storage?
      Paul B. Wordman
  • How about Microsoft's SkyDrive and Amazon's CloudDrive

    I use DropBox, SkyDrive, and CloudDrive.

    I like the way SkyDrive works with my Windows 8 computer but also use the other two for file storeage such as images and audio. DropBox is my favorite but SkyDrive gives me the most free cloud storage with 25GB available (I think that new SkyDrive users only get 7GB).
  • SkyDrive is the best cloud storage platform

    Closely followed by Amazon Cloud Storage
    Tim Acheson
    • Google Drive

      Disagree Tim. For anyone already waist deep in the Google ecosystem like I am (Android, Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Music, Google+, etc, etc), Google Drive is far and away the best option.

      If you are a Microsoft app user, then Skydrive is probably for you.

      It all depends on what you are already the most heavily involved in if you are looking for convenience and simplicity.

      I've tinkered with all of them, and I prefer Google Drive. Easy, simple, secure, clean, fast, near seamless integration with other Google apps and Android...and it's not going anywhere.

      And with Google Drive, the only MS Office files that count against your allotted space, are files that you do not convert to Google Drive type files when uploaded. If you convert everything, which it can do automatically if you tell it to, your storage is essentially unlimited. That rarely gets mentioned and is a big deal.
  • Cloud Storage

    Is security of Cloud Storage an issue? How easy would it be for government agencies to stealthily hack into the systems. Is common sense going out the window by not storing files in house!
    • Security

      Security is every users individual concern. If people use a little common sense they won't put unencrypted personal information or business information online that they don't want anyone else to ever see.

      Generally the government has to have a warrant or National Security Letter before these companies will hand over data sets, though as you mention it is quite possible that a government or other entity (Anonymous, LulzSec, etc...) could get the information by more nefarious means. If you have data that you don't want to risk this way the simple answer is it doesn't belong on a computer at all; unless that computer will never be attached to a network, we can leave that stuff for the people wearing tinfoil hats.
    • Cloud Storage

      Be careful, they'll be calling you a tinfoil hat wearing idiot if you dare to speak like that. You gotta love it how your concerns are turned into name calling insults just because you have an opinion that can be backed up with literally hundreds of reports that data harvesting activity are in fact taking place on a daily routine bases by the alphabet soup agencies. When I see the word "Tinfoil Hat" come from an author the first thing that comes to mind is "there's a ball game on the TV and I need to drink to excess, scream, yell and act stupid" and that is all that is important to said writer(s). Or they derive their livelihoods from said activities in which case dis-info is their business. So someone that uses words like "tinfoil hat" must be a drunk wife beating game worshiping stooge. Stereotyping works both ways.

      "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect."
      - Mark Twain
    • encrypt

      Like 88Fan says, if you have sensitive information then encrypt it (Truecrypt is free and easy to use). I always assume my unencrypted cloud data is readable by someone; if that bothers me then it means that piece of data needs to be encrypted. Hell, I even encrypt sensitive data stored locally. The cloud doesn't really change anything in that regard.
  • so many choices...

    I have 25GB SkyDrive, 50GB Box, and 5GB Google Drive that are all free.

    The SkyDrive account I use for syncing a few folders between systems with personal files (nothing that contains identifiable data sets), and the 25GB size is grandfathered in; new accounts are only 7GB if memory serves me.

    My Box account I use for sharing data with friends and colleagues. It was obtained when they did their 50GB for life with Android earlier this year. It does have file size limits, but those are easy for anyone to deal with.

    My primary Google account with it's 5GB Drive I use for backing up my phone and a couple of double encrypted files with critical information in them. I still laugh that Google has the appearance of having reduced the amount of storage they give people for free, though the reality is that they give us unlimited storage for anything we create natively (or convert to) with Google or Android. The 5GB is just a limit on non-Google documents and such.
  • This is the system you want to handle your data?

    In addition to security, storage limitations, file syncing and missing files, you can add vendor lock-in, increased bandwidth costs, down time due to failures, hacking, governmental seizure of data, and, as pointed out in another blog today, increased usage of electrical supplies by those big cloud servers.

    All of the cloud servers mentioned had customers complaining of synchronization issues and “laggy” service. In addition, one had “…some small but not insignificant hacks and breaches…” Google Drive had 30 percent of the users complaining of missing files!

    This is certainly a different picture than the one being painted by these cloud providers, who would have you believe that all is rosy, you’ll save tons of money, gain a completive edge on your competition, and be taking part in the wave of the future.

    Beware the cloud!

  • I may be looking at Skydrive but use Google Docs for now

    I have multiple users (12) that log into my Google docs account to pickup files on their iPad 3Gs using ReaddleDocs for iPad; works great. Manage uploads from one computer and setup each of the Board members iPads with the server location and all they need to do once they get the email that the "Board Book" or file is ready, is to tap on it in Readdledocs and let it download.

    The biggest issue I have found so far is that any user can accidentally cleanout the server upload location from thier iPad before the others have downloaded the file. Can you say oops?
    • Security is not an issue

      The only thing we place there is "Public" documents anyway that the Board members need, everything else is sent to them encrypted via email.
  • Cloud Storage is concerning a lot of small and mid-sized IT firms now

    Its a very nice article. The major concern every one can see is the cloud storage whether its a small or a medium size business or even an enterprise ot talking about public cloud services. dinBackup our cloud storage netapp based service provides a full proof disaster recovery solution which could be availed by a lot of small and mid-size businesses:
  • Ubuntu one missing as well

    I was shocked to see Ubuntu one missing from the list as well.
  • Syncplicity

    Syncplicity offers 2GB of cloud storage and does backups on the fly once the first main back up is done. It is not a file sharing Cloud server but a real-time backup cloud service. No more making backups at the and of the day. Just let syncplicity do its thing until needed. No, I don't work for them I am just a user who likes it. ;-)
  • Spideroak

    Spideroak offers data encryption, so files on their servers are protected from snooping. 2 GB is free for home users, and then modest cost for upgrades. They also offer a business oriented option called Spideroak Blue.
  • Time to consider Huddle as an alternative to consumer cloud services?

    It's important to consider the differences between "consumer" services like these and business cloud services that address far more complex needs (e.g., data security, data governance, regulation and compliance, reliability and uptime, cross-firewall data transfer, scalability, etc.) and are directly tied to business operation and bottom lines.

    For ultra-secure cloud content management and collaboration for businesses, Huddle is the way to go. 80% of Fortune 500 organizations use it; the UK central government uses it; NASA uses it; central intelligence agencies in the US have chosen it...the list goes on.