- Online file sharing services like Dropbox and Google Drive and Box are terrific, but there is one major concern we all share or should share. And that is, how well do they respect our privacy? And the answer, mmm. Is there a better online file sharing service that does offer privacy? Perhaps, I may have found it, it's called Sync. I'll show it to you today on Dotto Tech. Steve Dotto here, how the heck you doing this fine day? It is good to be talking to you today about online file sharing services. Now I'm a huge fan, we've done multiple videos on a variety of different tools like Dropbox and Google Drive, I love the functionality and the convenience that online file sharing services provide for us. But I've always had this little voice in the back of my mind. Sometimes it's a loud voice that says Steve, exactly how secure is your data on these services? And I'm speaking about privacy, how private is your data on these services? And I kind of have ignored this voice for a long time, but no more because I have found a solution that respects my privacy online. It's called Sync, and it is a Canadian company. It's like me, it lives here in Canada, and their prime directive is to respect our privacy. Well, their prime directive is probably to actually be an outstanding file sharing service like the others technically allowing us to store files, share files, access our files. But, overriding all of this is the issue of privacy. And is it a big issue? I think it is. I'm gonna put a link here if you want to just jump to the demo and see exactly how the tool works, but before we do that, for the rest of you, let's have a wee conversation about privacy. Now the folks at Sync have summarized things for us quite nicely in a white paper where they talk about privacy. And they tell us exactly how the different main services respect our privacy, and you can have a quick read through this, I'm not gonna dive too deeply into it, except that things like this should probably concern you. Take a look. This is Dropbox's own terms of service, currently on the website as of the beginning of April 2019. Let's read this paragraph, it's right up at the top. We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it when you ask us to. Our Services also provide you with features like photo thumbnails, document previews, commenting, easy sorting, editing, sharing, and searching. These and other features may require our systems to access, store, and scan Your Stuff. I say again, to access, store, and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do these things, and this permission, it gets better, extends to our affiliates and trusted third parties we work with. We have the right to scan Your Stuff, to look through it, and at our discretion says Dropbox, we have the right to extend that courtesy to our affiliates and other third parties we work with. Does that cause you pause? It caused me pause when I really thought about it. And most of the other services do the same kind of thing. Where's the big difference with Sync? Sync doesn't allow anybody to see any of your data. We'll look at the technical aspects of how it all works and how it works as a file sharing service in a few moments, but the key as far as this demo here is concerned is Sync encrypts your data at source. As soon as you upload a file to Sync, it's encrypted. And only you have the decryption key. So even if somebody else gets ahold of your data, it's useless to them because they don't have the encryption key. That's number one. Number two, Sync servers are located in Canada, where we have very powerful privacy laws. And they respect all of those laws. So other nations asking for access to your information, even if it's totally legit in that nation, doesn't carry any weight here in Canada. So the answer is no no no, not today, go looking elsewhere for this person's data. Your data, your stuff, is secure with Sync. And at the end of the day, that's the bottom line. All of the services are gonna do a good job of uploading and downloading files and allowing you to share files with others, but I don't know of any other service that's going to protect your privacy the way that Sync does. Is it worth having a look now at the tool? If you're still with me, let's have a wee gander at Sync. Just one quick disclaimer before we move ahead, is I have signed up as an affiliate for Sync myself. I like the service a lot, so if you use one of my links that's in the description below or in the blog post, you will be using my affiliate link and should you purchase it, I will be compensated. Thought you should know that. Should you purchase it, I say thank you very much. Let me take you on a quick tour through Sync itself. So Sync being an online file sharing service has a couple of different aspects. We have the web-based version of it that we can access through a web browser, but we can also install a desktop application or an application on each of our devices that allows us to access all of the data we share. You're probably familiar with these sort of file sharing services before, you've probably used Dropbox or Google Drive or another service and Sync is gonna have some remarkable similarities to those services because they all work in essentially the same way. And here's how the model works. On your local desktop, you have a folder that has all of the files that you want to sync, that you want to have access to online. Any files you drag into that folder are gonna be automatically synced or copied to the online servers that then allow you to access those same files from other devices. That's essentially how online file sharing works. Now you can designate some of those files as shared files so that you can share them with others, so with a simple web link they can then access or download those files themselves. And that gives you some really nice functionality as far as sharing your data and basically managing all of your different processes that you have with your team or family. So that is essentially how the system works. Now again, the difference with Sync is, as soon as you upload a file, that file is encrypted so the file that's online is useless to anybody unless they have the decryption key which you have or anybody who you are sharing the file with has access to as well. Now there's two different ways, there's more than two different ways, there's probably three or four different ways that you can manage all of your different synced files. So the first is, let me just close, actually I'll show it to you in the browser. You can open up your Sync account in a web browser, in any web browser you can log in, and you have access to manage your entire Sync account here from the web browser. So I have all of my administration files now stored on Sync and that's actually my things like my tax documents and things, other documents that I would never have considered storing online before, but because of Sync's encryption, I now feel comfortable with the entire process. And then I'm also using Sync for sharing our videos, because I get a lot of storage with Sync, so with my team members, as we're editing videos like the video you're looking at right here, we're sharing all of our files back and forth with Sync. It's got very fast upload and download servers, and so we're finding it to be a really good tool for sharing our video editing files. So those are the purposes that I'm using it for. But you can see here that I can manage them all from this web browser interface. But I also when I installed Sync downloaded a desktop app. Now it appears here in the toolbar in the very top of my Mac, and it'll be the same in your Windows world, and this is where we can actually choose to open the folder and control all of the different aspects of Sync through the desktop app. Now the folder that we see here is the folder that is gonna be synced to the desktop, from the desktop to the cloud. So any files that I drag and drop in here are going to be then shared onto the online service and from there I can manage exactly how I want to use those files and to work with those files. We also can go into the Preferences and determine where our local home folder is stored, so you can choose to put it on an external drive or in a different location, so whatever's convenient for you, for your own process. And you can manage all of the other account settings such as changing your password, checking if you have large files that are being uploaded or downloaded on the progress of those files, and then the Advanced features you can go in and you can determine exactly which files are gonna be synced to the online service and which ones are just gonna be stored locally. Now where this is important, or is important with other services is if you were to say just take your entire Documents folder and store it in the Sync folder, which a lot of people do. If you did that, there might be some files that you choose not to sync to the Cloud. That would have been for those other services because of privacy concerns, or it might be because of size concerns, because you just don't want to have these large files being transferred back and forth. You can determine all of that from this panel. Privacy concerns are increasingly relevant, and the services that you sign up for and choose to trust, you've always gotta be careful as local laws change in your community, in the community you live in, that reflect the services that you are working with. And here's one of the areas that Sync really shows some of its strengths, is it is currently compliant with all of the different privacy laws in the world including GDPR, and all of the other privacy legislation that is occurring at least in the Western world that we know about at this particular point. And recognizing philosophically how Sync approaches privacy, I think you can feel very secure that moving ahead, as countries create new privacy laws that Sync is gonna be one of your best opportunities to be in compliance, and you're not gonna have to change your systems when the laws change with you or with your clients, with other people who you're dealing with. You and I both know that there are so many good services for providing online file sharing and backup, and they all work really well. Sync is their equal, technically, with all of the other services, but it does two things that none of the other services do. The first thing it does is it protects your privacy aggressively. The second thing it does is it allows you to pay in Canadian money, which means you will actually end up saving money. Those are pretty two compelling reasons to have a good solid look at Sync. Now here at Dotto Tech, we make technology easy so you can do more, and I hope that you found our video today to be useful. And one thing that I really look forward to is your comments and suggestions below. If you've got other products that you want me to take a look at, let me know in the comments and tell me what you think of Sync or your online file sharing service. Till next time, I'm Steve Dotto. Have fun stormin' the castle!
Online file sharing services such as Dropbox and Google Drive are terrific tools that are indispensable for many of us, however, we should all be conscious of what these services do with the information that we upload to them.
Our privacy might not be as private as we want when using these services, and it's important as customers, consumers, and clients to demand stronger privacy protections as more of our personal and professional life is stored online every day.
Is there an alternative to the big name services which will also protect our privacy?
I think so, it's called Sync (affiliate link) and we're going to take a look at it together!
Private…Until It Isn't
Before we look at how and why Sync is a more secure alternative to the most popular file sharing and storage services it might help to look at an example of what it's competitors say about your privacy.
This is an excerpt from the Dropbox Terms of Service, pertinent sections underlined.
“We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it when you ask us to…These and other features may require our systems to access, store, and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do those things, and this permission extends to our affiliates and trusted third parties we work with.”
Dropbox defines “Your Stuff” as including all content, files, messages, and contacts stored on Dropbox. This means that not only can Dropbox access and scan your information but that DropBox can share your data with affiliates and third parties, whose identity is not publicly available.
Dropbox says “Your Stuff is yours” and that their terms don't give them any right to the information you upload, but giving themselves the right to access that information undermines the very principle of privacy.
Effectively, your privacy is yours until it's theirs.
That's not good enough for me, and I don't think it is good enough for many of us, so let's see what separates Sync from the rest of the pack.
Sync and Respecting Your Privacy
Sync does not allow anybody to see any of your data. How?
Sync encrypts your data at the source, which means it is encrypted the moment it is uploaded to their servers. Oh, and those servers are located in Canada which has some of the most strict and robust privacy laws in the world. Sync is compliant with every Federal and Provincial privacy regulation in Canada, as well as US, UK, and GDPR laws.
Nobody can access your data without your encryption key. Not Sync themselves, and certainly not some shadowy unnamed third party.
That's more than good enough, that's great.
You can access Sync either through the desktop app or through your browser. The desktop app allows you to customize your experience by determining where the files will be stored, perhaps on a Network Attached Storage Device or just on your desktop hard drive. It also makes it very easy for you to decide which files will be synced to their server. You can uncheck any folders any time and they will no longer be available on the server making it easy to determine what you share and when you share it.
There are a lot of options for file sharing and storage services and they all work very well. Sync is their equal in every way but does 2 things which the others just do not do; it aggressively protects your privacy, and they actually allow Canadians to pay in Canadian dollars which saves us money!
Whichever service you use just be sure to read up on what your rights are, and importantly what the service can do with the information you upload to them. As long as you're comfortable with that, that's great!
Until next time,
Have fun storming the castle!
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