Yandex operates Russia’s most popular search engine, with a 60% national market share. Since the company’s founding in 1997, they’ve followed a similar path to Google, breaking out into e-mail, mapping, music, news, video, even releasing their own browser and taxi booking service in 2011.
Yandex.Disk is the company’s cloud storage platform, released in beta a few weeks prior to Google’s own launch of Drive. Since then, Yandex.Disk has been tough for external cloud services to beat in Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey. So does Yandex.Disk have the home field advantage, or is there something to its popularity? Find out in our review below.
- Easy to use web client and software
- Office Online and desktop integration
- Built-in web photo editor and album support
- Easy and full-featured sharing
- Strong social networking integration
- Full-featured desktop screenshot tool
- File transfers encrypted with SSL/TLS
- Cheap storage upgrades
- Supports iOS, Android, Windows Universal, Mac, Linux, and WebDAV
- Protected from U.S. intervention by Russian privacy laws
- Uploads limited to 2 GB on web and 10 GB elsewhere
- No password option on shares
- Limited sharing configurations
- Does not save or restore file versions
- Slow download performance outside of Europe
- Occasional throttling on frequently downloaded public files
- Data privacy laws primarily apply to outside governments
- Yandex does not disclose whether files are encrypted on-disk
- Official Linux support limited to a command line tool
Yandex.Disk is certainly a solid service in its own right, offering many of the best features of its Western competitors within a clean and well-designed user experience. Heavy users and those outside of Eastern Europe will be annoyed at the upload restrictions, occasional throttling, and slow download speeds, and the security conscious might be a bit wary about its lack of security disclosure. However, if you’re looking for a non-U.S. based cloud service with a killer feature set, Yandex.Disk is worth a try.
Yandex’s web client is packed with features, yet is surprisingly easy to use. This is thanks to drag and drop support throughout the interface, three different interface views, and an intelligent use of named buttons and drop-down boxes rather than cryptic icons.
The ever-present “Upload Files” drag and drop box is a nice touch and so is the useful upload interface. I liked that sharing toggles and export tools are built into the uploader, which streamlines the workflow.
That said, it’s a bit disappointing that the web interface doesn’t support entire folder uploads. Uploads are restricted to 2 GB per file, which is a common 32-bit restriction, but a 64-bit browser will not bypass it.
Entire folders and multiple files are downloaded as ZIP files, but you cannot download multiple folders at once.
The web client offers a small thumbnail preview and a full sized viewer for nearly any file type I could throw at it. Part of this is thanks to their integration of Microsoft’s Office Online suite, which offers full web-based document creation and editing of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.
Yandex.Disk does not support version restoration at all, which is a huge oversight for a service otherwise offering so much. If you, or someone you share a file with, makes a file edit you don’t agree with, there’s no way to revert it.
Yandex includes an amazing array of multimedia features and support throughout their service. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the strongest elements of this service.
Their web-based photo editor is one of the most impressive I’ve ever. Most people would be able to get away with using only the web-based editor for their needs, which is something that’s pretty hard to say for any other cloud platform.
Yandex.Disk users can organize their photo collections into albums, much like their Western competitors. Creating an album is as simple as collecting a few pictures, creating an album cover, and clicking a switch to get your sharing link. Album presentation isn’t anything special, but it’s simple and effective.
Speaking of albums, Yandex.Disk includes an easy import tool to bring your albums from Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and YK over to the service.
Yandex supports almost every format of multimedia that I could throw at it, including MKV and DNG, although the latter requires a small conversion prior to viewing, and cannot be added to albums.
Music files can be played within the web client via a player on the right-hand side. It’s nice to see this built-in functionality, as most of the industry is removing the feature or shunting users off to another service for playback.
Finally, the web client also supports playing video files, including MP4, AVI, and even MKV files. I liked seeing the option to rotate the view, in case you’re working with a strange angle.
Sharing is immensely easy in Yandex. Every single folder, file, album, video, etc., has a big “Share Link” button that can be turned on or off, with a handy link next to it. The service supports direct sharing to Facebook, e-mail, Google+, Twitter, and even a QR code.
Shared links to files and folders can be viewed publicly by anyone who has the shared link, regardless of whether you have a Yandex account or not.
Folders can be shared as collaborative invites as well, but only to other Yandex users. No matter if you send full-edit or read-only access, the recipient will be able to access and download the files in the web client, mobile apps, and even the desktop client. Read-only users will not be able to add files or make changes to that folder in any interface.
It’s also interesting to note that should the people you share with download a total that equals twice the size of your stored cloud, Yandex throttles further shared file downloads to 512 Kb/s for a full 24 hours.
The Yandex.Disk desktop software is basically a single sync folder and a sync engine like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive. This folder downloads your files, uploads new ones, and syncs you with your cloud. Like Dropbox, you get a notification box for recently changed files and events.
The software supports selective sync, proxy controls, and a photo/video auto-uploader, which will pop up a query when a device with pictures is plugged in. Thankfully, you can turn off this behavior in the settings.
You can create shared links through the desktop software, but only public links. There is an option to “Select and share folder” but it will re-direct you to the website to create the invite link and determine access options.
It’s becoming more and more fashionable for cloud providers to offer a screenshot tool. While Yandex offers this capability, it’s also one of the most impressive implementations I’ve seen. I liked that screenshot hotkeys are fully customizable and the neat editing tool that pops up after you take one.
It should also be mentioned that Yandex.Disk not only supports Office Online, but it is also integrated into Microsoft’s desktop suite as an automatic saving option.
On the downside, there are no bandwidth controls, and there is an annoying upload limit of 10 GB on a single file. Granted, you won’t find many 10 GB files in the wild, but media files are getting bigger and bigger all the time. Any restrictions of this sort are annoying.
Yandex.Disk offers desktop software for Windows and Mac. It also supports WebDAV, so your files can be accessed on any operating system that supports this protocol. Unfortunately, Linux support is limited to a command line tool.
Yandex offers mobile apps for iOS, Android, and even Windows Phone.
The mobile apps aren’t anything special, but they get the job done. You can upload, download, and move around files within the interface, as well as share public links to files and folders. Unfortunately, full-edit invitations are only available to the web interface, but you can accept new sharing invites.
Unlike the web interface, Yandex doesn’t offer any built in media players, but they do offer a decent number of settings to customize the app’s behavior. In the Android and Windows Phone apps, you can set a PIN lock, change syncing behavior, set up camera photos for auto-upload, and even clear app cache.
The iOS app only offers a couple of these, unfortunately.
The apps also support the ability to set files with offline access. This will download the files to your device and update the server with changes once you have internet access again.
Yandex’s server cluster is centered around Russia, Ukraine and the Balkans. Unfortunately, that means those farther away will see slower overall performance. We tested this service from the West Coast of the United States with an ISP rated at 50 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up.
|Max Upload Speed||7.88 Mbps|
|Average Upload Speed||5.67 Mbps|
|Max Download Speed||16.0 Mbps|
|Average Download Speed||4.55 Mbps|
Obviously, downloading files from the server will be slower for us in the United States. Upload speeds were about where they should be for my connection, but if you have faster upload speeds, you might see a bottleneck. Those within Europe should get better performance.
Yandex doesn’t offer up any security whitepapers or even talk about their security policies other than to say that they use the “latest technology.” I have been able to verify that all logins, connections and transfers are encrypted. Their servers support the TLS standard up to version 1.2 for transfer encryption and also perfect forward secrecy. But it’s currently unknown if files are encrypted on the server.
I’ve reached out to the company, and have not yet heard a response.
Privacy-wise, Russia’s data privacy laws offer adequate protection against NSA seizures, for now. If Russia determines that the country that data is going to does not offer “adequate protection of personal data,” then the data requestor needs to obtain written permission from the owner of the data. Currently, the United States is considered untrustworthy in this regard.
That said, I’m not entirely convinced that data on Russian servers is protected from the government itself, unlike other European countries with strong data privacy laws. You can check out Russia’s data privacy laws here and a deeper analysis here, but they primarily apply to 3rd parties, external nations, and outside corporations. Russian legal authorities can override the requirement for explicit consent.
Yandex’s pricing is pretty good and quite fair. You get 10 GB of space for free, plus 512 MB per referral.
|Add’l 10 GB||$1.00||$10.00|
|Add’l 100 GB||$2.00||$20.00|
|Add’l 1 TB||$10.00||$100.00|
Beyond that, you can buy storage in chunks depending on your need. For $10 per year, you get an additional 10 GB, or an astonishing 100 GB for what amounts to $0.20 per GB. Those top up plans are way cheaper than most of the industry, and may be a good option for many who don’t need a full 1 TB of storage.
If you need more, you can buy a full 1 TB for $10 per month or $100 per year, which in line with the industry standard.
Yandex’s support options are a bit lacking. The only obvious amount of support is an FAQ page with some answers to a few common questions. Their “Contact Us” page is found hidden on the bottom of Yandex.com, but e-mail is the only option available. While there are contact numbers at this page, these are sales contacts, rather than support.
|Average Upload Speed||5.67 Mbps (5 Mbps connection)|
|Average Download Speed||4.55 Mbps (50 Mbps connection)|
|Free Online Storage||10 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)||Russia|