Online storage: metered billing will kill it

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I’ve been using Drop Box Free Edition and so far am quite happy. It took the place of a “virtual” thumb drive — you can access your data almost anywhere, and you don’t have to worry about loosing the flash-drive.

Of course there are perils — if you log in from some virus-infected Windows machine I am sure your online password will be swiped and then suddenly some guy in Transilvania will suddenly have all your online-storage files. Kinda like what if someone swipes your thumbdrive while you’re riding the bus…

But that’s not the worst problem with online storage. It’s speed and cable and telco companies’ lust for per-byte billing and giant bills for users. What’s the point of online storage if it takes days to actually back-up your computer? Most of the connections in US (except for those few lucky FIOS customers) are severely asymmetrical, with download being about 5-7x or even more times the upload bandwidth. And if cable company gets its wish of billing for “usage” then backing up half of your machine online will pretty much exhaust the whole data allotment.


From the other online storage providers:

Jungle Disk from Rackspace — an interesting concept but kinda weird and (I guess) buggy. The software itself costs $2 a month, but they allow using Amazon online storage as repository, so you effectively pay two separate tiny bills — one for the software that masks S3 service as “local disk” and another for used space on Amazon’s cloud.
Their ads all over the site claim N Gb free, but the truth is you can’t sign up for Rackspace storage cloud. If you try, you get 500 error and a message that all new accounts signups are suspended.
There’s a thread on the forum where this error has been documented, and you can see that Rackspace keeps pushing out the availability of their cloud. Supposedly a giant overhaul, everything will be faster and more efficient, and tiny little unicorns will back up your drive again. Sure, I’ll believe it when I see it (that’s another issue — if your online backup/drive provider is having hiccups, what do you do?). Plus is that you can actually access your S3 storage without any extra layer of software, so you’re never totally cut off from your files.

Then there’s Crashplan. While they don’t provide “drive” interface, they do automatic backups onto cloud storage. So far seems working well, reliably uploading all the changes on a regular basis. Given they allow “unlimited” storage, I understand why they don’t really want to provide virtual drive. Their servers do go down for maintenance every once in a while, but I haven’t seen any major outages yet.
But… once you stop subscription, you’re done. Files will be gone forever.

Regardless of which one you prefer, there’s certainly a value in online backup/drive solutions. Just as long as providers won’t squish them dead…

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