Cubby, LogMeIn’s answer to Dropbox, is launching out of private beta today and is now available to all users. The service is a late arrival to the crowded online storage space, dominated not only by startups like Dropbox, Box and Bitcasa, but also major players like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. But Cubby hopes to differentiate itself by attracting users who need more than online storage – it’s going after those who could also benefit from a sync solution that keeps folders up-to-date between computers and mobile devices.
The sync feature, called DirectSync, is somewhat reminiscent of what Microsoft once attempted with Windows Live Mesh. Although Microsoft is now promoting SkyDrive over Live Mesh, users with longer memories will recall how Mesh worked: using client software, you could “mesh-enable” folders on your PC or Mac, and those folders and files would then become available on all your devices, and optionally on your Live Desktop in the cloud. On PCs, adding to Mesh was a right-click option.
Cubby is not much different. Using desktop software for PC or Mac, Cubby users can drag-and-drop folders (Mac or PC) or right-click them (on a PC) to add them to their storage space in the cloud, or they can choose to only sync them between their devices, including computers, tablets and smartphones (iOS or Android). Folders that are synchronized, but not stored online, don’t count against Cubby’s storage limits. For PC users especially, it makes for a quicker workflow – you don’t have to change your current folder structure or behavior, you just right-click and a folder becomes a “Cubby.”
Like its competitors, Cubby offers users free online storage to encourage sign-ups – a healthy 5 GB is available for new users. It also introduced a way for users to earn additional storage through referrals, much like Dropbox does today. Through this method, Cubby users can accumulate up to 25 GB of free storage. However, because today’s release is still considered a beta (a public beta, but still a beta), Cubby has yet to reveal its pricing plans for users who need to purchase additional storage – a number which will could help to sell the service as a low-cost or competitive alternative, or turn users off if priced too high. It’s also unknown whether file sync will remain free indefinitely.
Existing LogMeIn or Join.me users can use their same credentials to register for Cubby - a new account doesn’t need to be created. As to how it stacks up, for now, it’s a serviceable alternative to the other offerings already available, although its software lacks a bit of the slickness of Dropbox and Google Drive. Plus, on mobile Dropbox offers nice tweaks, like automatic photo uploads and a photo gallery-like experience for browsing those images.
That being said, Cubby is starting to make some improvements. On its web interface, it has added an at-a-glance thumbnail view option, which works well for photos, for example. It has also added visual indicators of syncs in progress, and has added a number of new action buttons on the web to make things like uploads, linking, downloading, and access to versions easier. (Cubby supports unlimited versions). Users can also provide direct feedback at the new community ideas.cubby.com.
Now open to everyone, users can sign in or register from the homepage here.