What’s an alternative to Dropbox that doesn’t automatically sync deleted files?

Alexis C September 23, 2014
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I want to start using syncing service to have all my student notes synced to my Windows 7 desktop PC, Windows 8 notebook and Android phone (4.2.2), but I have some concerns first.

I’m using right now Dropbox and I don’t like that if I erase a file in the Dropbox web interface the file gets deleted on all my devices or vice-versa automatically when they are connected to the Internet.

I would like to avoid that because I’m a bit “paranoid” thinking that someone may hack my account and erase everything in there and I won’t have a way to recover my files.

So my question would be what free syncing service would you recommend me that will not sync automatically and works under Windows and Android?

Thank you!

  1. Paul Y
    September 23, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Although I have a Dropbox account I prefer Box.com, and I don't use any sync with it (although this is also available via a windows client) I just it use as a cloud storage site either through a web browser or Android app. If you follow their "loops and tricks" they will give you up to 50Gb for a free account which is not to be sniffed at! Only limitation is the maximum file size you can upload - 250MB. As with the above comments, ensure you use a really strong password.

  2. Oron J
    September 23, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I agree with Jan. The purpose of a syncing service is to sync, i.e. add and delete items on different devices/folders etc so that they're all the same. If the service does not delete as well as add files, then you can't really call it sync. So, since your main concern seems to be that a hacker could cause you to lose data, let's look at some options open to you:

    1. Get a backup. A sync service is NOT a full backup. There are online services such as Carbonite or Crash Plan, and there's plenty of offline ones (i.e. onto an external hard drive etc). These are cumulative - they never lose anything unless you explicitly erase them or they have reached a certain time limit (e.g. a year). This would be *in addition* to Dropbox, not instead of it!
    2. Back up your Dropbox account onto another cloud service (you may need software like Gladinet to help you get there).
    3. You could sync your devices *without* the cloud. Either BitTorrent Sync or Wuala would allow you to do that, and BitTorrent Sync even has a "read only" mode where files can be downloaded, but changes to them are not reflected back in the original (although, as stated earlier, this sort of defeats the purpose of sync).
    4. Secure your Dropbox with a really good password. Dropbox does not require entering the password often (once per device is usually enough) and logging onto the web site directly is usually unnecessary, so there's no reason not to have a password such as 2&uic5Q~bB=}EE which would offer you extra security. Even if your account is hacked, however, as long as you can restore access to it you should be able to recover the deleted files (after all, that's one of Dropbox's features).

  3. Jan F
    September 23, 2014 at 6:14 am

    That doesn't really make sense, right? It wouldn't be a syncing service if something you do on one end doesn't get done on the other.

    Is it possible: Maybe? But I am not sure you will get exactly what you are looking for with a syncing service. This request is more like a mix of cloud synchronization plus remote backup.

    The closest to what you are looking for is probably Box.net with its "unsync-on-delete" feature. Basically when you delete a folder on your local computer it does not get deleted from Box.net but only the synchronization to your system will be stopped.

    That's also where we start having trouble with your statement "if I erase a file in the Dropbox web interface the file gets deleted on all my devices". Working on the web interface means that you are working directly with the central storage, the files in the cloud.
    I'm going on a hunch here and say that for pretty much any cloud storage/sync service out there working on the web would mean that the change will occur on all linked devices.

    The problem also is that if you delete a file on the web without it being deleted on the client, the client would simply re-upload it to the cloud storage because it is missing there.

    The best suggestion I can give you is to forget the idea of working on a web interface as you will have more luck finding a service that will allow you to do a one-way-sync (internet-to-computer) than an option that "do-not-sync-internet-to-computers".