Sync: alternative to Dropbox and Google Drive for the privacy conscious

There is no question that cloud services have become essential tools in our professional and personal lives. I have found Dropbox and Google Drive to be indispensable for a variety of reasons. However, I have always been ambivalent at a minimum about using them for the storage of sensitive data. I’ve just never been comfortable with the fact that these huge companies’ employees could have access to my sensitive personal financial and health related documents.

I’ve wanted a service that combined the convenience of file synchronization across devices with encryption that I control personally. I don’t want the company to hold the encryption keys. Why is this important? Because every single employee at the company in question who has the ability to access the encryption keys is at risk of social engineering. If there’s going to be a weak human link in the security chain, I’d prefer there be only one: me.

I appear to have found an alternative that meets my requirements after following up on ProPublica senior reporter Julia Angwin’s article on tips for foiling hackers.

Sync* appears to have nearly all of the features of Dropbox coupled with privacy enhancements and pricing that is in some cases better than DropBox (depending on your needs). I’m starting with the free 5GB account to give it a good test drive.

Now keep in mind, in order to achieve greater data privacy, you need to take on some risk. If the company does not have your encryption password, they will not be able to recover it for you if you lose it. Your data will be unrecoverable. But then—that’s kind of the point.

* This seems to be a case where I actually need to include “dot-com” without irony to disambiguate the service

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