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Strongspace for Basecamp? Not if you can avoid it.

I am about to move and most likely rid myself of the box that currently hosts my Basecamp SFTP file server, and since I’m a big fan of paying my way out of having to do sysadmin work, I figured I’d give Strongspace a try. Bad idea.

So the core problem with that idea isn’t really with Strongspace, it’s with Basecamp: It doesn’t let you move the files. I scp’d all the existing files over to Strongspace, then updated the settings in Basecamp, but then Basecamp insisted on pointing all the old files over to the old server. Bah!

Also, Strongspace is really slow. It least it was for me today. What am I paying for, exactly?

Then there’s the problem of users. Your Basecamp users, will have to have another set of accounts. You can’t use HTTP auth or anything like that. Bah!

But the final straw was that then because of Basecamp sticking with a URL forever, I’d essentially be locked-in to Strongspace. No thanks. I’m canceling.

Now if only I could get my $8 back, but no, they don’t do that either. No “try before you buy” with Strongspace. Bah!

Bottom line: Use your own server, or find a friend with a server you can use. Anything is better than this.

2 comments

Justin French

Hi Lars, Justin from Strongspace here. Unfortunately, everything you say is more or less true. Strongspace was originally conceived purely as an SFTP solution for Basecamp customers, but when it became apparent to us that there were some severe limitations in how the two applications could talk to each other, we branched out into a more open idea for what Strongspace could do. You say "I'm locked into Strongspace", and I say we gave you SFTP and web browser based access so that you could always access your files without specifically relying on Basecamp. You can also download your files off Strongspace any time you like and close the account. Sure, they're "locked" in Basecamp's interface, but that's true for *any* SFTP server you choose -- be it a friends server, or another SFTP service -- given the current Basecamp set-up. In *my* experience with Basecamp, the files are only relevant for a few months anyway. But we're obviously talking with 37signals about how we can improve this. Basecamp users make up about half of the Strongspace customer base, but they account for about 90% of our support tickets, so we're quite motivated to find a better solution. We're also motivated to make Strongspace a better file sharing and management tool _in general_. It's a free-standing product that also happens to support Basecamp file uploads in the best way we could find given the tools and limitations at hand. Sorry for writing a comment that's longer than your original article!
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Hi Justin, thanks for the super-fast response. That always commands respect, and I appreciate it. I'm a little surprised to hear that 37signals haven't been more accommodating, I thought you guys were a little closer, given that "David is a principal":http://textdrive.com/people/ over in Textdrive land. Regardless, on the lock-in issue, with a domain owned by myself or a friend, I have the option of setting up a redirect, so the old URLs still work. With Strongspace I don't. It still puzzles me that Basecamp don't offer a storage quota within the product, like they do for Backpack, but I guess you wouldn't particularly like that :) The number one thing you guys should do is make it perform better. And if you want me as a customer, see if you can find some way to make it compelling even for people who have their own servers. I have no idea how, really. But I was at least willing to give it a try, so there must be something to pursue, no? As Gladwell teaches us, we don't really know our own preferences :)
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