Jottacloud is the new version of the Norwegian online backup service Jotta. With their 2012 rebranding came new features, a syncing engine, and a renewed interest in security and promoting the European privacy laws that protect them.
In the post-Snowden world, the privacy afforded to these European companies is appealing for those looking to move from U.S. based companies like OneDrive and Google Drive. So how good of a replacement is it? We put it through our paces to find out.
- Automated/Scheduled backup for unlimited devices
- Cloud sync folder
- NAS / Network share support
- 5 GB of storage for free
- Cheap unlimited storage upgrade
- Protected by Norwegian privacy laws
- 256-bit AES encryption on server
- RAW/DNG file support
- Software support for Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, and Windows Phone
- New website has rough edges
- Buggy desktop software
- Limited and simplistic sharing
- No collaboration features
- Slow download speeds outside of Norway/Europe
- Support options are lacking
Jottacloud’s slow performance outside of Europe, weak sharing options, and rough software is elevated by a great collection of security and privacy protections and a well-priced unlimited storage option. None of the cons are bad enough to be unacceptable, but I’d still only recommend this to a small niche of users who are technical enough to deal with bugs. Yet, Jottacloud may be the “good enough” cloud service for those who want cheap and private unlimited storage with backup support.
Jottacloud started as a backup service, and those roots still exist in the desktop software. The backup functions work great as a result. Literally any folder accessable to your device can be set up for backup. Yes, that even includes network shares and network-attached storage (NAS).
With Jottacloud, backup is more akin to a cloud sync than a traditional folder backup. File updates will be immediately synced, and files deleted from the backed up folders will also be immediately deleted from the server. Thankfully, if a file is accidentally deleted, it can be restored easily. Navigating to the “Restore” tab will reveal the deleted files within their original file structure. Older file versions can also be downloaded or restored within the “recent changes” area of the restore tab.
Deleted files are kept on the server for 30 days and the last 5 versions of files are saved.
Backed up files can be viewed and downloaded within the website. Since Jottacloud supports unlimited computers, these backups will be stored with the name of the computer and file structure given to the backed up folders. Each computer’s backup will be kept separate and will not interact with the other computers.
Confusingly, backups will only sync one way. Although you can upload files and folders to your backups on the website, these additions will not sync back down to your computer automatically. This makes a bit of sense as a backup rather than a sync folder, but it’s still weird that the files on your PC could mismatch with the files on the web.
The desktop software offers a lot of customization within the settings. You can set backup schedules, select granualar bandwidth controls, and even select the amount of downloads and uploads allowed at the same time.
That said, the desktop software was a bit buggy. There were more than a few occasions when the software would either crash or the sync engine would simply stop working. This can be remedied by quitting and restarting the software, but you may end up waiting while it resyncs with your backup.
Sync and Archive
Jottacloud’s sync folder is a new addition for Jottacloud. Files added, updated, or deleted from within that folder will sync to the server and be pushed out to all of your devices.
It’s painfully obvious that sync is a new addition, as there is no mention of it within the software. You can only access it through your file manager or by right-clicking the taskbar icon.
Synced files can be viewed, managed, and downloaded from the web client as well. Unlike Backed Up Files, changes made to the Synced Files on the web client will be pushed to devices as well.
Files that are backed up or synced can also be moved to the “Archive” file through the website. Files moved to the Archive from Sync folders will be deleted from all connected Sync folders. If moved from a backup, the files or folders will be kept on local machines but removed from the cloud backup.
However, this function is only accessible from the website and you can only archive files that have already been uploaded to the server.
Jottacloud supports sharing single files or entire folders through generated links. None of the links require an account for access, but unfortunately, the only options offered for sharing are an on and off toggle.
Once the link is opened, the recipient can view photos and PDFs within the web viewer and can download any of the files provided.
But not all of them. Jottacloud’s current website design is brand new as of October of 2015, but it still seems to have some glitches that need to be fixed. One of those glitches is that the Download all button above doesn’t work. Neither does downloading multiple selected files.
Trying to do so will result in the above confusing page, which would result in users and recipients presumably re-trying several times before giving up. A general rule with web design is that if it doesn’t work, turn it off, otherwise confusion turns to frustration and a bad user experience.
File Support & Multimedia
Jottacloud supports any file type you can upload, including encrypted files and volumes (tested with Veracrypt). However, the only file types you can interact with on the website are photos, videos, and PDFs.
Unfortunately, this addition offers very little functionality, but I appreciate that RAW files (.DNG) are supported in the photo gallery, especially given the option for unlimited storage.
Jottacloud supports iOS, Android, and Windows Phone / Windows Mobile 10 with some highly differentiated mobile apps. Blackberry OS and BB10 is not supported. I like that each app is built to make sense along with its platform’s design aesthetic. It shows the company cares about the individual experience, rather than cutting and pasting code.
All three apps support camera roll auto-upload, the service’s simplistic sharing options, and will let you view and interact with your backups, sync folder, archive, and shared files. The iOS app will also let you view Microsoft-format documents in the app, but editing will require a separate app.
I was most impressed with the backup controls within the Android app, which not only backs up photos, but also contacts and messages as well.
Security and Privacy
Jottacloud is based out of Norway, which has its own Personal Data Act (PDA) preventing any third party from legally accessing your data without your explicit permission. Jottacloud follows up by securing data in-transit to and while on the server with 256-bit AES encryption.
This forms a pretty strong backbone of security, but Jottacloud does control all encryption keys, meaning it’s possible for the company and employees to access data. For the utmost security, we still recommend encrypting data personally before uploading.
However there are some weird holes. Sign up e-mails are not verified, and not necessary for login. That along with the lack of two-factor authentication opens up the possibility of a hacker using social engineering to crack an account or even create an account with your name and e-mail.
Locating a cloud service entirely out of Norway is great for privacy, but also leads to inconsistent download speeds. I tested this service on a network that ranges from 50-70 Mbps (megabits per second) downloading and 5-10 Mbps uploading from the West Coast of the United States.
|Average Upload Speed||6.19 Mbps|
|Maximum Upload Speed||9.83 Mbps|
|Average Download Speed (Web)||2.91 Mbps|
|Maximum Download Speed (Web)||6.39 Mbps|
Upload speeds are where they should be. While upload speeds are primarily dependent on your network speeds, they are a good indication of overall server health.
Download speeds will vary based on your physical proximity to Norway. If you happen to be on the other side of the planet like I am, your downloads will be awfully slow.
If you use the desktop software, you can tell it to run as many as 6 concurrent downloads or uploads at the same time, which will improve performance dramatically. Speeds aren’t where they should be, but much better.
|Jottacloud w/ 6 Downloads Enabled|
|Average Download Speed (Sync)||15.0 Mbps|
|Maximum Download Speed (Sync)||16.9 Mbps|
Jottacloud offers two pricing tiers for individuals, and a scalable plan for businesses. Offering 5 GB for free is fairly standard amongst the rest of the industry, but you can also get another 2 GB of space if you activate camera roll backup on your mobile device.
But Jottacloud is one of the only cloud providers offering unlimited storage today. At $100 per year, it’s a pretty good bargain.
|Storage||Monthly (Euro)||Monthly (Dollar)||Annual (Euro)||Annual (Dollar)|
Other than a rather simplified knowledge base, and a question support page, there is a firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address. There is no telephone support or any guarantee of turnaround time for requests. This is a pretty small operation, though.
|Average Upload Speed||6.2 Mbps (5-10 Mbps connection)|
|Average Download Speed||15.0 Mbps (50-70 Mbps connection)|
|Free Online Storage||5 GB|
|Mobile Apps||Android, iOS, Windows Phone|
|Keep Deleted Files||30 Days|
|Back Up to Local Drive|
Sync and Share Features
|Public File Sharing|
|Data Center Location(s)||Norway|