LaCie Wuala review
Wuala is an online storage service from LaCie, a company better known for its external hard disks and DVD writers. While most of its competitors have separate services for backup and general purpose online storage and file sharing, Wuala is designed for both.
You can get a basic service with 1GB storage for free, but to get all the features you'll need to pay. We tested the cheapest plan, which is €19 a year for 10GB storage. If you need more room, you can either pay more or, unusually, trade free hard disk space on your computer for more online storage. You need to be online for at least four hours a day to take advantage of this, and you can set the amount you want to share through Wuala. The amount of online storage you get back for free is the amount of disk space you've shared multiplied by the time you are online. Four hours is 17% of a day, so if you shared 100GB hard disk space for the minimum time you'd get 17GB online storage for free.
You can upload and download files to your online storage using either the Wuala program or Windows Explorer, but the Explorer integration still requires the program to be installed. There's no web interface to access your files - you have to install a Java app, which works on Mac, Windows, Linux, Android and the iPhone. If you make a change to a file, the entire file must be uploaded again, rather than just a small segment, which would be annoying on very large files such as videos.
The program is also used to pick files for synchronising. Unlike a backed up file which is only stored on one computer and online, a synchronised file can be stored on multiple computers as well as online and changes made on one computer are automatically reflected in the other copies. It's a subtle distinction that isn't well explained in Wuala's documentation. Unfortunately versioning isn't available for synchronised files, only on backed up files. Versioning is a useful feature that allows you to revert to a previous version of a file in case you make a change you wish you hadn't.
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