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JustCloud review

We take a look at the professional cloud storage solution that claims to be simple, fast and unlimited...

Cloud sitting on laptop with memory stick
Price
Home version from £7 (inc VAT) per month; £10 (inc VAT) per month for unlimited backup. Business: £20 (inc VAT) per month for up to 5 computers; additional costs for more computers. Enterprise £50 (inc VAT) per month for up to 20 computers
  • Good looking web interface; Integrated sync service
  • Confusing options; Limited sync; Unresponsive support

Online backup services are cropping up everywhere, giving consumers and businesses much greater choice in the types of solution they use.

What then, does JustCloud - the latest, UK-based, competitor to the likes of Backblaze and CrashPlan - have to offer? It promises unlimited offsite backup for a flat monthly fee. But does it deliver?

As with other remote backup services, JustCloud offers a simple-to-use Windows, Linux or Mac desktop app that automatically uploads your important files to the cloud.

When it's first launched, you choose the folders to back up – JustCloud suggests likely candidates, but you're free to choose your own – and then works in the background, uploading your chosen files and folders to its servers. It's flexible here, as there is no restorations on the file type you can upload and you can specify those to ignore in the app's settings. You can both limit and throttle upload bandwidth and only backup with the computer has been left idle for a set period of time.

The fully automated backups are speedy enough and protected by 256-bit SSL encryption during upload and storage. Unlike rivals Backblaze and CrashPlan, however the backups aren't continuous. Instead JustCloud offers scheduled backup at defined intervals or times.

The web interface is good-looking, with a neat overview window showing important backup information including how much data has been stored and a graph showing. The view in the File Backup browser can be configured to display in either thumbnail or list views and in the latter options to download the file appear next to the file's name. JustCloud supports versioning – a godsend if you accidentally overwrite a file or view past versions of the file. Unusually you can also share backed-up files from the web interface, either privately with specified email contacts, or through a public URL link that can be generated on demand.

To restore a file is as simple as it gets: you simply click the file name in the browser. That said, restore options aren't as varied as others: there's no option to download a collection of files in one zipped or sent to you on disk.

One advantage of JustCloud is that it offers more than the basic single-PC backup and restore features of its rivals. It also promises Dropbox-style syncing across multiple PCs and devices too. Drop a file into the Sync Folder in the JustCloud app on your computer and it's automatically available from the matching Sync Folder on the JustCloud web app or on your mobile device – JustCloud offers clients for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry.

In principle that's a great way to share files, but in practice it's disappointing. First, although it can be upgraded, the basic paid account is restricted to 1GB of sync space – significantly less than that offered for free by Dropbox and a fraction of that available in Google Drive or Microsoft's OneDrive.

And, for this money, you get fewer features than any of these rivals. JustCloud doesn't integrate with the desktop nearly as well, so you can't save files directly to it from other desktop apps, or adjust a file's shared status from your desktop. The web-based interface lacks polished, as you can't organise files into folders as you can in Dropbox. You can't preview a Word file: clicking its icon in the web's Sync folder instantly downloads the document to your desktop sight unseen. By contest Word files can be previewed in Dropbox and many file formats can be opened and edited in Google Drive.

But at least the web's Sync folder shares the same features as the backup folder, which means you can share files in exactly the same way.

The JustCloud service comes in a variety of options with a complicated array of add-ons – and a pushy approach to selling them. An inexpensive-looking Home version – licensed only for personal use – is crippled by the absence of features that come standard with rivals, such as support for backing up attached external drives. It also lacks the storage space of the more expensive Unlimited Storage option, coming with a measly 75GB as standard.

Business users too will be ultimately disappointed. Both Business and Enterprise versions of JustCloud offer the right mix of features, including hourly backup and administrative control for multiple sub-accounts. But the allocated storage space is parsimonious: the Business version starts at 100GB of storage space for up to five computers, though this can be upgraded. The Enterprise version offers 500GB storage as standard to be allocated among up to 20 computers. That compares poorly to the likes of Backblaze, which for $50 (approx £35) per year per computer boasts unlimited storage.

Perhaps more damning for any potential user of the service is the level of support. JustCloud doesn't have phone-based technical support – something that on its own might dissuade some potential corporate users – and we found the company slow to get in touch through other means.

Verdict 

Versatile and good looking, but a confusing array of options and disappointing support means we'd look elsewhere for cloud backup.

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