Online data storage

Online data storage is shaping up to be the next big thing in web-based services. Maybe I haven’t been paying attention but before I discovered Strongspace a few months ago, I wasn’t aware of any services like this. Now, in the time elapsed since then, half a dozen others have popped up and more are being talked about.

There seem to be two components to these services: off-site backups and secure on-line file sharing. This is nothing we didn’t have years ago with Xdrive and the like, but no one seemed to care back then, probably due to services like this not being practical via dialup. Now that high-speed internet connections are commonplace it’s come back around for another try.

Currently, in addition to Strongspace and Xdrive (which I had no idea was still around until just now), there’s the recently opened Box.net, and in varying stages of development are Fluxiom and Omnidrive. Plus, as we just found out the other day, Google may have their eye on this too with their yet-to-be-officially-announced “Gdrive“.

Despite my talk of needing off-site storage, I don’t know that I’d actually pay for a third-party service for this. I could always roll my own I suppose: if I want a web based file browser and an interface for sharing, there’s the unfortunately-named Webcolon, which is a do-it-yourself alternative to paid, hosted services like this. When released, it will provide file browsing, plus an interface to create user/group accounts so you can share files with, and allow uploading by, other people. Honestly though, while this is an interesting idea, I have trouble coming up with a use case for myself. Remote backups, on the other hand, would be nice. My only requirements for this are SSH and rsync, so it’s nothing I can’t already do with the gigs of space I have with my Dreamhost account, and yet I don’t for some reason.

So is this something people really want? Some people want it, sure, but enough to support all these companies offering these services? I guess we’ll find out. Someone at the 106 Miles meeting this week said that her approach to this market is not to offer it as a service to end users, but rather to sell multi-terabyte server systems with branded web and desktop client software to other ISPs and hosting companies so they can offer the service to their own existing customers. Now that’s a good idea: it doesn’t matter if end user demand for this type of service ever materializes, because her customers are the companies who don’t want to be miss out on a potential revenue stream if their users flock to Gdrive.

Comments

Avitania says:

I meant to reply to your earlier post on the subject, but never ended up doing so! I recently resigned from Streamload (http://www.streamload.com), having spent three years working there — they’re in the online storage space you’re talking about. If your main concern is just backup, and you won’t need to download or share the files, SL offers 25 GB of free online storage with their Streamload Mediamax service (http://mediamax.streamload.com). Unfortunately, no SSH uploads or rsync for now, but it’s coming. You can only download files smaller than 10 MB (up to 500 MB/month) with the free option, so if you’re just planning on uploading files and not retrieving them often, this might work out for you. If you do need to retrieve your files, 25 GB of download bandwidth starts at $9.95 (upload bandwidth is unlimited for both free and paid accounts). Feel free to email me if you need more info.

I’m interested to see what Gdrive has in store. I don’t think massive online storage for offsite backup is what people really want. There are lots of options for that in the market, anyway. But now that people are able to create their own huge content (AVI files from digital camcorders, gajillion-megapixel photos, awful songs created in Garage Band), the desire is to share and have access to those files wherever and whenever. So for SL, at least, it’s more about being able to “move” media rather than create a place for people to simply store it.

Fuck, man, I totally swallowed that blue pill…