FlipDrive is a New York-based company that’s been in the cloud storage business for at least eight years. It’s a relatively small player in this sector having under 100 staff and a modest $16.5m turnover.
Can FlipDrive punch above its weight and compete with the big players to offer something unique to a small but clearly loyal customer base?
Many of those assumptions you might have about a cloud storage service, and what features they normally provide, you can throw out of the window with FlipDrive.
Because this is one of the few solutions with no client application to link the computer or mobile device to the service.
Instead, all file transactions are done through a web interface.
A design choice that by definition rules out the possibility of live synchronisation of any folders or files on the client device.
And, you can only drop files on to the web interface, not folders, amazingly.
After you have uploaded files, then you can create folders on the FlipDrive space, and move the files to those folders, but it makes even the earliest versions of Dropbox seem sophisticated.
It can show you scaled down versions of pictures, but the web interface can’t play MP3 files or do anything remotely clever with files.
Tag more than one file to move to a folder, and it just takes the first, ignoring the rest. Or, sometimes it just doesn’t move anything, for a little variety.
The underlying issue here is that by design web pages don’t have free access to the files on your computer unless a security flaw is found. And therefore, without using a plugin with security credentials, any permanent connection between files stored on the computer and those out in cloud storage was always going to be impossible.
We could bore you with all the other ways that this facility fails to live up to what its competitors are offering, but if you want file versioning, local encryption, or anything like that you should look elsewhere.
As a service, FlipDrive stretches the definition of SaaS (storage as a service), possibly beyond breaking limits.
As we’re already eluded, the FlipDrive interface is purely a web page and not a very sophisticated one at that.
What’s slightly odd about the FlipDrive web solution is that there are hints that it was meant to be so much more, because alongside the file storage parts in ‘My Drive’ are also other subsections for Photos, Contacts and Bookmarks.
If, as we did, you’ve already uploaded some images to My Drive, you might be confused not to find them in the Photo section already, because they won’t be.
Photos that use the photo section don’t appear in the general drive space; you can’t add images that you’ve uploaded to there as it is something entirely separate.
However, it does have a few benefits in that you can put notes alongside the images, and you can also ‘bulk upload’ a folder, something My Drive can’t handle.
If the Photo tool made us scratch our heads, the Contacts and Bookmarks are even more confusing, because they’re built for the person who doesn’t have a contact list already or doesn’t save bookmarks on their browser.
There is no mechanism to link either of them to other sources of that information, but then you probably guessed that already.
I’m not sure what the thinking was that created these sections, but without external connections to other services they’re not much use and could distract someone from using an interoperable service like those run by Google and Microsoft.
A quick surf through the FlipDrive website reveals that security isn’t something those behind it considered important, because it hardly gets a mention.
The only secure aspect to this facility appears to be the HTTPS connection that the web interface uses because files aren’t encrypted in transit to the storage, or while they’re on the server for that matter.
That leaves only your password to guess or have by default on a mobile device to deliver nefarious access to your files. There isn’t any two-factor authentication or alert when a new device accesses the service using your account.
From a security viewpoint, FlipDrive is for those who are highly optimistic or inherently lucky.
For those wishing to test out what FlipDrive has to offer, FlipDrive offer a 10GB free account that isn’t time limited in any way but only allows files of up to 25MB.
Again, there are limits of 1GB on how big files can be on then Personal account, but Pro and Business allows any file sizes.
If like us, your reaction to this business model is that these options seem remarkably small by current standards, you’ll also be disappointed in the pricing which isn’t proportionately scaled.
Personal costs $5 (£3.85), Pro $10 (£7.70) and Business $20 (£15.41) per month, making FlipDrive one of the most expensive per GB cloud services around. For $10 (£7.70), or less, most of the big competitors give you 1TB, so FlipDrive offering 10% of that capacity seems entirely unrealistic.
When you combine the high cost with the lack of features, any real stab at security or the ability to sync, FlipDrive manages to complete almost all the boxes you don’t want to be ticked.
If you can’t find a better cloud storage solution than this one, you’re not looking very hard.
Did we mention that it is slow?
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