What features does Ubuntu One provide that others services do not have? Can I use Ubuntu One only on Ubuntu machines? What about sharing data/folders with others who do not have Ubuntu One?

  • Note that Ubuntu One was shut down in April 2014. The name "Ubuntu One" is still used for user accounts on Ubuntu related websites but the file storage service by that name no longer exists. Jan 1, 2018 at 10:11

9 Answers 9


Ubuntu One has several advantages over Dropbox and other services.


Like other services, Ubuntu One allows synchronisation of files across machines and does this by synchronising any file you put in the ~/Ubuntu One folder. In addition, it allows you to synchronise all of the files in any folder in your home folder. However, it lacks the ability to synchronise files using symlinks.

A particular feature that Ubuntu One has that is lacking in other services is the synchronisation of your desktopcouch databases. Some applications use these databases to store data and settings. This allows automatic synchronisation between applications on multiple machines. Examples of such applications include Tomboy (which synchronises its notes) and Evolution (which synchronises contacts).

Storage Amount and Pricing

Ubuntu One provides a relatively generous 5GB of free storage compared to 2GB provided by Dropbox and SpiderOak and 1GB provided by Wuala. With Ubuntu One you can add 20GB increments for 2.99 USD/month. This allows flexible pricing that is more cost effective than Dropbox or Wuala. (See Comparison).

Platform Support

The Ubuntu One client is available on Ubuntu and Ubuntu based distributions and should theoretically work on most other distributions. A beta is available for Windows. There are also apps available for Android and iOS.

There is also a rudimentary web interface for accessing and publishing files. The publishing feature allows you to share files with people who don't have Ubuntu One.

This is not as many platforms as, for example, Dropbox so this may be a disadvantage if you use multiple platforms.


Ubuntu One provides a music store and allows music streaming via smartphone applications. The music streaming costs money. Other services do not support this.


The Ubuntu One client is free software, although the server is proprietary.

  • 4
    You can also sync Tomboy notes via Dropbox. Ubuntu One now has a Windows client available.
    – James
    Feb 9, 2011 at 15:03
  • 1
    You've missed one of the main points - it can sync entire folders maintaining the directory structures across all the Ubuntu machines.
    – Oxwivi
    Jul 20, 2011 at 12:29
  • In fact, all your desktopcouch databases are synced unless you tell them not to be. Since this is fairly new stuff, there are relatively few applications that make use of that yet, but it's growing. I think that's probably the coolest feature of Ubuntu One, although filesync is really useful. And yes, you can publish files on the general web and just give people the url. Jul 21, 2011 at 14:18
  • I believe the dropbox client is also open source. Although, like the ubuntu one client, it's useless without the server, which is closed source. May 2, 2013 at 3:59

The paid Ubuntu One service helps subsidize Canonical, which means that (theoretically) signing up with U1 helps improve the platform.


One advantage of using Ubuntu One is that eventually many of your settings will be saved in a CouchDB database and shared between all your machines (should you choose to allow it). You can do this manually using Dropbox or similar services, but with Ubuntu One, it should be more or less automatic.


One disadvantage of Ubuntu One is that you are stuck with a directory "Ubuntu One" (spaces and capitals, ugh) in your home directory that you can't remove. According to the Ubuntu bug tracker, the solution is to remove U1 completely.

Dropbox allow you to put their "Dropbox" directory anywhere. I put it $HOME/.db/Dropbox then have a symbolic link $HOME/dropbox to it.


For me, Ubuntu One has one very significant feature - share/sync any folder inside your home folder, so you don't need to use the main single folder like Dropbox does (I mean a folder which is used for all your Dropbox shares).



The most important thing for me is that I can sync all my config files - outside the ubuntu one folder. Dropbox can't.

And the second thing is that Im supporting Canonical (Im a paid user).


As for security, Dropbox does encrypt the files, but they possess the keys and reserve the right to allow the U.S state to see what you are holding. Since they possess the keys it means that hackers could also get them. Ubuntu One does no encryption. However it is possible to encrypt data on your own machine prior to syncing it with Ubuntu One and it will be safe since you alone would possess the key. There is another service called Wuala that does encryption, while making sure that they have no knowledge of the encryption key. They store the data in several European countries in a peer-to-peer thingy for redundancy, they offer a Linux client and the servers are run on 100% green energy!

  • 1
    Once can, of course, encrypt files on a Dropbox directory in the same way that you would do on an Ubuntu\ One directory
    – jjg
    Jul 20, 2011 at 11:20
  • Another alternative to Dropbox, which stores the encryption key locally on your machine, is Spideroak.
    – bgvaughan
    Aug 1, 2011 at 21:22

Canonical closed down Ubuntu One cloud file services 2014: http://blog.canonical.com/2014/04/02/shutting-down-ubuntu-one-file-services/


Dropbox is cross platform. It has a html folder for hosting webpages. I believe you can only use ubuntu one on linux machines.

Ubuntu one is good for sharing between ubuntu machines; but if you have a dropbox account, you should be good. :)

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