Aug
26
2013

[Review] MultCloud

Logo for MultCloudMore and more people are taking their files online and storing them on storage services all across the internet. The reasons they do this are various, but often it's to allow the same file to be gotten at again when on a different computer; to share documents with colleagues or friends; as a backup in case the local computer fails, or just to clear up space on their own computer by using someone else's storage.

As the desire for online storage increases, more and more companies are setting up their own storage services offering different amounts of space and features. Some users are taking advantage of this by signing up to multiple services, to increase their storage by combining what's available from all the sites; and sharing their files among them based on which service they feel is most useful for each file. MultCloud – formerly DropInOne – is designed with these people in mind by allowing them to connect to several services at once, to remove the need to switch between lots of websites. But is it worth your time?

What is it?

MultCloud is a free online service offered by Aomei, which allows people to connect to several popular Cloud Storage providers from one website and get access to all the files on them in one place. Currently, MultCloud supports these services:

  • Amazon S3
  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft SkyDrive
  • SugarSync

It should be noted that while MultCloud will allow multiple accounts from each service to be added to a single MultCloud account, only one SugarSync account can be tied to a MultCloud account due to SugarSync's licencing restrictions.

Pros

  • Conveniently access files from all these services in one place
  • Easy to register to MultCloud and set up each account
  • Easily upload to and download from each service
  • Supports typical file operations such as Copy, Cut and Paste, renaming and deleting files (all found via right-click)
  • Share files directly from MultCloud via link

Cons

  • Website only – no native client software available
  • An overuse of the Times New Roman font on the "Add Cloud Drive" page and on labels around the wider interface is not very appealing on the eyes
  • Right-click options not obvious
  • Can't bulk cut, copy, paste or download files
  • Can't interact directly with search results – must right-click and choose "Link to" to go to the drive they're stored on before you can do anything with a found file

Full Review

Before you can start to use MultCloud, you first have to register an account with MultCloud directly. This is to make sure access to all the storage services you connect to using the service are protected by a single address and password. Registration to MultCloud is simple, just click the "Sign Up" button on the site's homepage, fill in a short registration form giving a username, your email address and your desired password twice, click "Sign Up" again, then wait for an email back from the service asking you to confirm registration. Most people will be up and running after just ten minutes.

After logging in to the service for the first time; or in future logins after clicking the "Add Cloud Drive" button – thoughtfully placed on the left of the interface – MultCloud will ask for details of at least one storage service for it to connect to. The available services are listed on the top of this page as tabs (clearly labelled with both logos and names of the services in question) – simply click on a service, and MultCloud will show the steps required to connect to it.

For Box, DropBox, Google Drive and SkyDrive, this setup is simplicity itself, as MultCloud only needs to know your Display Name on those services. MultCloud will then take you to the authentication screen of the service in question so that you can verify with them that MultCloud is allowed to access your files. Because SugarSync's ToS make it so that only one SugarSync account can be associated with a MultCloud account, setting up a SugarSync account requires MultCloud to know the email and password as well as the Display Name for the account you want to connect MultCloud to; but as a result, the extra authentication step is NOT required.

Amazon S3 is the most complicated, as setting this up in MultCloud requires you to give details of the Display Name, Bucker Name, and the Access and Secret Keys associated with your Amazon Storage Bucket. You will also again have to verify MultCloud's access with Amazon.

Once you've successfully added a service, it will appear on the left panel of the interface underneath the "Add Cloud Drive" button; as well as on the Home dialogue (shown each time you log in from the second time onwards; or by clicking the house icon). Further services will be added underneath the first entry.

MultCloud’s "Address" bar (left) and search bar (right). The curved arrow to the left reloads the current view; the house icon goes back to the list of services you’ve connected to MultCloud.

After connecting your services to MultCloud, there are two ways to find your files. By clicking on a Drive, all the files and folders on the service will be shown, in a style just like you were looking at a folder in your computer. You also have a search bar in the top-right of the interface; using this search bar, you can search multiple services at the same time for a specific file. By clicking the arrow in the search bar, you can choose which services to include or exclude from the search. Unfortunately, files found in the latter way can't be interacted with directly – no checkboxes appear for downloading the files and all the right-click options aren't shown. To interact with a file found via searching, you must right-click the file and select the "Link to…" option that appears – which then takes you to the folder it's stored in. This prevents interacting with files stored across multiple drives at the same time, limiting the usefulness.

When viewing files on a single service, however, there are quite a few things that can be done. Individual files can be cut or copied; then pasted to a new location by right-clicking the files to work with. Individual files can also be renamed, deleted or downloaded through this same right-click menu. It's not immediately apparent this right-click menu exists – although it's mentioned in the "How to use" page linked on the login screen, it's not mentioned on MultCloud's interface itself – which is disappointing and could lead to people failing to notice these features, as I almost did myself.

Another way to download files is to click the checkbox that appears next to them on the file listing; then clicking the large "DownLoad" button at the top of the page – however, MultCloud does not currently support bulk downloads and will disable the button if multiple files are checked. This is a little disappointing and I hope a method to allow this can be implemented in the future. Talking about buttons, beside the large download button at the top lies two other buttons. The first is "Upload", which lets you save a file TO a service through MultCloud. Multiple files in one upload ARE permitted. The final button is "New Folder", which explains itself. New Folder is also offered by right-clicking on any file or folder, bringing the available options to a full circle.

The final right-click option is a "Share…" option. MultCloud gives its users the interesting added feature of being able to share files directly from any of their Storages through MultCloud itself, regardless of the service the files are actually hosted with. Selecting this "Share" option from the right-click menu on any file will open a sharing dialog:

The Share dialog allows you to send an email – containing a link to the file – to any number of email addresses you specify. At least one email is required to share a document. Once a document is shared (by clicking the Share button on the dialog), a link to the file will be generated (the same link that appears under "will be shared at:"); make sure only people you want to have the file see this link, as anyone with the link can download the file. Cancelling out of this dilaog will cancel the share – even if you copy the link and then cancel the dialogue without sending an email, MultCloud will report that the file has stopped being shared.

In the extreme top right is the logout option; and a cog labelled with your name. Clicking the cog gives accesses options to change your name, registered email and password.

There isn't much to say about MultCloud – the website does exactly what it intends to; and for the most part is very simple. On a personal note, I'd like to see more effort go into MultCloud's design – with less use of Times New Roman; and a choice of colour schemes, while not necessary, might also help to give the service a more personal touch, which will make people feel more comfortable when they're visiting the same service to find all their files in one place.

Conclusion

MultCloud is a very nicely desined website which does exactly what it intends – bring all your different Cloud Storage accounts into one place. Setup is simple and working with your files easy; though it's not immediately obvious that most of the options only appear on right-click. However, MultCloud's overall usefulness is hampered by its single-file approach to downloading and managing files; and by only supporting six of the major storage services. Additionally, the interface does have a few ugly areas. If you're a person who has multiple accounts across Amazon S3, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive or SugarSync; regularly download files to work on locally; and want to be able to grab all the files from a single location – you could do much worse than Aomei MultCloud; but perhaps adding more services, an improved design and a look into native client software – so that you can use it directly from your computer instead of having to visit a website, since many of the above services already provide client software of their own – would truly help to make this a killer service.

MultCloud Homepage

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Acknowledgements: Some imagery from Aomei, used with pe more...
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