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Canonical Ubuntu One review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £20
inc VAT

A must-have for Ubuntu users, particularly if they work across multiple platforms, but One still lacks common features, such as version control

Canonical is best known for Ubuntu, which is widely regarded as the easiest-to-use version of Linux. Ubuntu One cloud storage and synchronisation is an integral part of recent Ubuntu distributions, but it’s also available to Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS users. If you’re an Ubuntu Linux user, Ubuntu One is completely integrated with the Unity desktop.

Ubuntu One main interface

It’s also linked to the Ubuntu One Music Store, where the music you buy is stored online without affecting your total storage limits. Ubuntu One’s basic 5GB package is free, but it’s easy to fill this up, so you’ll most likely want to add more storage. Adding more storage costs around £1.99 per 20GB added, per month.

If you want to stream the music you’ve bought or uploaded via your browser or mobile, you’ll have to subscribe to the Music Streaming package (around £2.60 a month), which enables streaming and increases your storage to 20GB. Even free accounts have the option of syncing purchased music to all their devices, though.

The default Ubuntu One folder is always in sync across every computer that you install the software on. When you install the client you can choose whether you want to automatically sync your music purchases, but you can also opt to keep any other folder on your PC in sync, provided that folder is in your user’s folder. With a little tinkering of where you store files, that means you can use Ubuntu One to back up important pictures or documents in real time or use it to keep saved game files up-to-date if you play on two different machines.

Ubuntu One sync folders

Once you’ve finished the initial setup of the One client, it’s easy to add and remove folders from your share. It’s also easy to make them accessible to others via the share tab. You can search for files you’ve synced online by keyword and then generate links to them at the click of the button. There’s a slightly odd auto-completion feature that shows you file names that match your keywords as you type, but doesn’t allow you to select from them until after you’ve hit Enter, but that’s very minor gripe.

The Devices tab lets you see a list of all the systems that are associated with your account and the settings menu allows you to limit your upload and download speeds, and control a couple of extra options such as automatic login and synchronisation from the computer you’re using and the option of automatically synchronising any folder shared with you by someone else.

Ubuntu One is purely oriented towards synchronisation, so there aren’t any options for scheduling backups, although you can set up an Ubuntu One shared directory as a target for other backup software. Even though you can add folders from anywhere on your computer, it lacks some fairly common features such as versioning. It’s also worth noting that your stored files are not encrypted, although there’s nothing to prevent you from encrypting them yourself.

Ubuntu One folder selection

The web interface looks a bit basic compared to rivals such as Dropbox and SugarSync, but it’s easy to navigate and makes it simple to download files and share them with others via the Publish option. A music player lets you play any tracks uploaded to your share or bought via the Ubuntu Music Store (currently only available under Ubuntu Linux) directly from your browser. OGG and MP3 files streamed perfectly, but the player couldn’t read our FLAC audio tracks. There’s also a photo gallery and contacts book. The mobile apps can be used to automatically upload photos from your phone or tablet and give you access to your files.

Ubuntu One is one of the cheapest syncing services around. Its ability to work across Linux, Mac and Windows is unusual, too. Dropbox can do, but its paid-for packages cost more and it lacks Ubuntu One’s music streaming. If you already use Ubuntu, then an Ubuntu One account is a must-have, thanks to its convenient integration with both the operating system and the Ubuntu Music Store. However, it needs more features before it can really compete with rivals such as SugarSync.


Price £20
Rating ***

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