Online Sync Storage – a digestible options list

Want to sync about 30GB of data from your computer to an online sync service for backup purposes?

Happy to pay but not through the nose?

Here’s a quick summary:-



Price £GBP Storage
Copy 15GB 5GB US$99 £62 250GB
DropBox 2GB 0.5GB US$99 £62 100GB
Ubuntu One 5GB none I think US$30 £19 20GB
SpiderOak 2GB 1GB US$99 £62 100GB
Box 5GB none I think £42 £42 100GB
Google Drive 15GB none I think $60 £38 100GB
Sky Drive 7GB couldn’t find easily so ignored intentionally blank

And here’s my thoughts:-

· I couldn’t easily find the necessary info re Microsoft Sky Drive quickly and easily so they’re off the board

· The rest are easily installed on multiple platforms and feature apps for your smartphone so you can grab files anywhere.

· DropBox is the best for usability as it’s now got LOADS of other apps that work with it. High scores on simplicity too.

· If you’re worried about file security then SpiderOak is unbeatable, due to their no-knowledge setup.

· Google Drive is cheapest and is pretty good, except it’s difficult to put away the worry about what they scrape from your files.

· Ubuntu One looks good for the price but is smaller – and appears to be unexpandable. Off the board for this exercise.

· If you’ve got lots of friends that are happy to join, you can quickly get a great quota free from Copy.

· Box is great value. And it’s well thought of in business circles in the USA. So it’s recommended.

So to pick a winner, it comes down to Box and DropBox. And since DropBox wins on connectivity with other functions (e.g. the ability to automatically take photos off your phone and sync off into the cloud), I’m going to give it the gong.

Box is second. SpiderOak is third for me because of SpiderOak Hive (more info).

The one I use most myself is DropBox, with a little SpiderOak as well for the personal and business files that I just *don’t* want breached.

For more in-depth options have a look at as recommended by Gary Smith @fl1bbl3

What’s your backup plan? If you don’t have one, get one. Or ask someone that can help make one.

In the event of fire, theft, flood or frying disks you’ll be glad you did.


London apps for iOS

Here’s a useful set of apps for iOS suitable for use when visiting London Village.


The Underground is easy to use, well mapped, and exceedingly well apped. Many more apps are available than this short list.

Tube Deluxe £0.69

Tube Map Pro £0.69 there is a free version available, but notifications of line closures and delays makes this one top value.

TubeWalker £0.00 combines walking, tubing and sightseeing (recommended by Gary Smith)


An Oyster Card is best for jumping on and off buses – cashless swipes and easy to topup

Bus Checker £1.99

Absolutely worth every penny if you bus a lot. Shows bus stops in locales, next bus arrival in real time, and pings you when your stop is approaching.

Bus Mapper £0.00 not used this myself, but it popped up in a search, and it’s well rated, and it has live info.


Most international travellers arrive in London by air, so knowing flight arrival and departure times and location of shops at the airport is very handy

Heathrow £0.00

Gatwick £0.00

Stansted £0.00


If you have mobile network on your iPad or iPhone then offline maps may not be needed, although wifi hotspots are plentiful in London.

CityMaps2Go £1.99 offline mapping for bandwidth free wandering (recommended by @CliveAndrews )

Connected apps include

CityMapper £0.00 not only for maps, but TfL trip planning as well, including all modes of public transport. Very good for route planning. Network needed.


XE Currency £0.00 Avoid rip-offs at the plentiful exchange bureaux by knowing the listed rates of the day in your own currency


Hailo £0.00 Taxis are the most point to point means of public transport in London, especially when luggage is added, and the knowledge of the drivers is world renowned.

This app gets the cabbie to come right to you (thanks to Richard Cudlip for recommendation)


Boris Bikes £0.00 since these cheap numerous rentable bikes appeared in London, usage for short trips has taken off. There’s not many hills, and getting around by bike is very enjoyable. And helmets are not compulsory!! NB The wind may ruin your hairdo. Carry a brush.


The Cloud £0.00 This provider is very common in London. This app includes a profile that you can install so that the device will login automatically whenever you’re in range. No pesky repeated logins. A map shows nearest locations (network needed for this function).


When you’re travelling with iOS, you’ll be logging in and entering email details a lot to maintain accounts and connectivity. Consider having a gmail (or similar) set up right on your phone or iPad so you can pick-up the necessary “confirm your account – click here” emails. Maybe even use a junk one that you can ignore and discard when you get home, to avoid getting all the follow up spams. The Gmail app is very good and easy to activate.

Twitter is a great way of getting travel tips, alerts and advice. Here’s some recommended follows





What apps would you recommend if your mate was London bound?

Texting from iPad

You can’t send texts from an iPad right? Oh contrare!! I’ve discovered a workaround of sorts that might be useful, dependent on other gadgets.

I won (yes I won!!) an iPad Mini from @TechTVuk and have spent the last few evenings setting it up as half a Work iPad and half a Family iPad, so that the parents and children can all enjoy the new device. But not everyone in my contacts has an iDevice(!), so iMessage-only may be a bit limiting. So I started installing some other apps that I use and recommend for calls on iPhone.

To set up Viber & Vonage I needed a device to which an SMS could be sent in order to login. Enter my @ThreeUK mifi. Text sent to mifi. Code obtained. App set up. Very straightforward indeed. And Skype was of course easy too. (no text code required).


I can now send texts via three different apps on the iPad, plus iMessage as well. Skype Vonage and Viber. Happy face.

My grateful thanks to the good folks of @TechTVuk for awarding me the new iPad Mini. They do creative video for technology companies. Tell them @pedrostephano sent you.

NB picture shows the text I had sent to my iPhone. Setting it up this way didn’t work. But via the mifi did – and it’s exclusive and thus separate to my iPhone which is the way I want it.

Update – learned that Viber also has an app for desktop in both Windows and Mac variants, as well as the mobile platforms.

Data abroad

Our holiday to Europe last year, with many connected devices present, was spoilt somewhat by lack of internets, firstly caused by Three UK failing to unlock my device in the promised timeframe, secondly by the hunting of SIMs that could give data (then replacing them!) and thirdly by public wifi (eg German McDonalds) not allowing foreign devices. Yes, I couldn’t believe that either. But twas true. So this year, I’m starting the solution hunt early.


First knock was on the twitter door of @BenSmithUK of – here’s  our convo with TruPhone and MaxRoam getting mentions.

Best recommendations? Have an unlocked device for abroad. Buy SIMs before leaving.

Thanks Ben.

“Sorry can you repeat that?”

Regents Park taken on iPhone by @PedroStephano on Flickr

“Sorry can you repeat that?” is the most often used phrase in mobile phonecalls today*  but there is a better way. Access to wifi means you can make calls via apps that use the internet for calls. Here are my favourites:-

Skype – this multi platform app can be used on phone or computer, and does audio calls, video calls and texts (instant messages). Integration with Facebook is a feature so you can easily import all your contacts. Get it from iOS app store or Google Play app store or Skype website (PC Mac Linux)

Vonage – this Canadian VoIP company does home phones, business phones and mobile apps all over the internet. Their home phone is seriously good, while the app offers audio calls and texts, and has recently added video calls (which I haven’t tested yet – mental note done) grab it for iOS or Google Play or check out their website

VIBER – does all of the usuals – audio calls and texts (but no video). Main claim to fame is that it’s free and available in many countries worldwide so saims to compete with the dominant WhatsApp for texting abroad. The app imports your contacts then checks to see if they are on Viber, and also pings you if they join. You can have it for iOS or Google Play or check the Viber website for more platforms and options.

Judging? I use Skype most because it’s most familiar, and like Vonage most for reception, call quality and user interface. Viber comes a respectable third and is worthwhile having purely as an alternative. But this is just three – I’m sure there are more. Suggest your favourite below.

*citation needed