Minus - More Storage, Less Hassle
Tested version: 3.0.14
Latest version: 1.1.2
Requires Android: from 2.1
You can chuck those hard drives straight out the window because in this day and age it’s all about cloud storage. In the last couple of months, there’s been a massive trend to store your precious data on virtual servers such as Dropbox and Sugarsync for around-the-clock access. But both Dropbox and Sugarsync have a significant drawback: the free storage space is limited and just isn’t big enough to accommodate all of your songs, pictures and documents.
With Minus you now have an alternative to paying for extra storage: this cloud service gives you 10GB for free right off the bat. Get an extra 1GB for recommending the service to a friend with 50GB being the ultimate storage limit.
Is Minus as good as Dropbox and Sugarsync? Or is this a case of quantity over quality? Find out in today’s test.
Features & Use
The great thing about cloud synching is that you can expand your smartphone’s memory by uploading files to the virtual cloud instead of your SD card. Unfortunately, cloud services like Dropbox have a limited amount of space, meaning that you risk exceeding your limit and thereby losing precious files. So it’s a welcome change to see an app that has enough space to make cloud-synching more care-free.
With the help of an online cloud you can expand your Nexus S 16MB internal memory, for example. That way you can store your most important files on the cloud and download them to your phone at your convenience.
This may seem like a totally ridiculous concept to SD card fans who are used to simply switching out memory cards. But for people with tablets and phones without expandable memory, cloud storage is a potential lifesaver.
Minus takes a slightly different approach to cloud storage than its older sibling Dropbox. Whereas the desktop version of Dropbox allows you to automatically synch entire folders (along the lines of Apple’s iCloud service), with Minus you have to manually drag & drop individual files to the cloud. That gives you the advantage of having better control over exactly what files and data gets uploaded to your cloud, something I had problems with using Dropbox.
Let’s now turn our attention to the Minus App for Android smartphones. As a truly cross-platform service, Minus is available for Windows 7 and iOS devices as well and works on all three major computer operating systems: Windows, Mac and Linux.
The app makes a good impression in terms of functionality, although the whole thing is a bit too minimalist and spartan for my taste. You have the option of uploading pictures and videos right after you take them. And then there’s always the possibility to browse through the folders on your SD card and select individual files. During the test I tried uploading music, pictures and APKs – and all of them got uploaded in a flash. I was then able to access and download them through the Minus client on my tablet and PC.
Once you’ve got some files nested in the cloud, you can access them easily and edit the folders by clicking on them.
In the folder menu, you can share a link to your individual folders or individual files via every thinkable social media service, including Twitter, Facebook, Gmail etc.
Most importantly, you can label your folders as private or public in the folder menu.
When something is set as private, you can only share the link to a specific folder and file. All other pieces of data will remain inaccessible. Just like in Dropbox, you can share individual files without displaying them on your profile.
Your profile, located at www.minus.com/username displays all your files and folders that have been deemed open to the public. This is a great option for sharing stuff with large groups of people, especially with student groups and collaborations.
Unfortunately, the Minus app lacks a couple of important feature that would improve the web interface and desktop version of the cloud service. It would nice to see an optional automated synch service, just like the one from Dropbox, that would allow you to effortlessly backup important folders.
Another missing aspect is the so-called feed, filled with pictures and other uploads from your Minus friends. For some odd reason this feature is missing in the Android version, but works fine on the iPhone app.
Finally, I think Minus could use a “collaborate” feature that would allow several people to upload and gain access to common folders for working together.
You can tell that Minus gets a lot of things right while leaving other things a bit raw and unpolished. Getting 10 GB of storage for free is a treat as is the opportunity to expand that all the way to 50 GB. All in all, it’s definitely important to keep an eye on the development of the Minus app in the future. Personally, I can say that Minus will remain on my Desire for a while, helping me with my synchronisation needs.
Screen & Controls
Minus is very easy to use and the graphical elements work well with an Android phone. On the whole the app has a very minimalistic touch and limits itself to the most important features. That doesn’t mean that the app looks cheap or dinky, it’s just part of their general image.
Compared to the iPhone version of the app, the Android version has a much more ornamental and intuitive way of deleting files.
Speed & Stability
Minus gets some things right in the category. Although the app starts up quickly and files get uploaded really fast to the server, but multiple synchronizations can suck up the time every now and then. Things could have been better!
A helpful support team, up to 50GB of storage, no ads and a free Android app. I don't say this often, but Minus deserves all the points in terms of quality vs. quantity. Good job!
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