(Update 09/2017: Jungle Disk is a much different company in 2017 than when I wrote this article. Think of this as a snapshot in time, but don’t let it influence you if you are evaluating them many years later – everything has changed. Jungle Disk lives on with new owners and new products.)
At the beginning of 2010 I wrote several articles about JungleDisk, which was at that time the most attractive online backup service for small businesses. The software was not glamorous but it was functional, and new features were being added that had potential – the company had introduced a rudimentary system for syncing files among computers and setting up a mapped drive in the sky that could be accessed from multiple locations, and was working on centralized management for servers.
Shortly before that the company had been acquired by Rackspace, which seemed like a natural fit that would be good for JungleDisk’s development. Rackspace is a large company dedicated to cloud and managed hosting services for enterprises; quickly JungleDisk added the option to back up files on Rackspace servers instead of Amazon servers. The press releases said the obligatory things about how good everybody felt about the deal: Rackspace was taking on Amazon and there was going to be “an arms race in features, stability, and performance.”
And then things began to slow down.
JungleDisk had lively support forums but as time went on there were fewer and fewer posts from company representatives. Frequently no answers were forthcoming about problems with the service. Bug fixes were issued less often. Major updates were promised and not delivered, and after a while there weren’t even any promises.
By the end of 2010 the landscape had changed. Dropbox had run away with the prize for file syncing; JungleDisk’s attempt had been half-hearted and buggy and wound up abandoned. Other consumer backup services – Carbonite and Mozy in particular – were polishing up their software and their web sites while JungleDisk sat stagnant.
In 2011 JungleDisk looks like an orphaned product. The last post on the company blog was in May, announcing a minor point release that seemed to cause more problems than it fixed. The support forums have gone dead, other than occasional lonely voices asking for some acknowledgement from anyone in the company that the products still have a future. The company set up a Twitter account, then let it go almost completely dead after May – except for a single post last week that says: “Happy Turkey Day!”
The software looks increasingly dated and rough around the edges compared to the competitors. It’s clumsy to set up and clumsy to use. It was difficult to puzzle out the procedure to recover data for a client a few months ago after a server crash – it worked eventually but it was slow and unintuitive.
A few months ago I discovered that JungleDisk backups had stopped working at all on my own server. A bug caused it to stop working correctly for one of my clients shortly thereafter. There have been months of reports of problems being posted online with no response from the company. (See the comments to the May blog post, which continue through this week.)
I’d like to encourage my clients using JungleDisk, and anyone else in the same position, to take me up on my offer to use the Bruceb Cloud Backup service for online backups. It’s far more expensive than JungleDisk – but:
- It works.
- It’s very, very easy to restore files.
- It has a big company standing behind it that is pouring resources into keeping your data safe and improving the service.
- I stand behind it, fanatically interested in making you happy with your technology.
Be safe. Back up your files. Call me if you’d like more information about online backups!