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Online Storage 2.0: Six Sites Reviewed 142

mikemuch writes "Services like box.net, openomy, and eSnips are more than just places to access your files from the web. Some include media organization tools, Windows shell integration, drag-and-drop uploading, tagging, and social content sharing. ExtremeTech has a review up of six online storage services with Web 2.0 twists."
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Online Storage 2.0: Six Sites Reviewed

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  • Well at least I have the nes advertising slogan worked out......
  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:15PM (#18182106)
    They give you 5 Gig free. It's owned by AOL, but there don't seem to be any realy limitations placed on the user.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by uradu ( 10768 )
      Agree. The only problem I have with XDrive is their totally retarded sign-up mechanism: they require you to register an AOL "screen name", and that system seems to be at least intermittently broken. I've tried to sign up a friend several times using both FF and IE and never received an actual screen name, but it did register his email address each time and did not let me use it again the next time, so I always had to use a different email address, and still no screen name to this day.
    • by kilbo ( 725707 )
      Especially since they complain in the summary about a lack of OS integration which is where XDrive does a really good job and includes 5GB to boot
      • by MsGeek ( 162936 )
        I could use an XDrive backup client for Mac OS X. Sure, the Java/Javascript setup XDrive uses works not just on Mac OS X with Firefox and the Apple JVM, but also in Linux with Sun's JVM. However a client and OS integration could be nice. Especially when it's considered that .MAC gives you less storage space and you also have to pay $99/year for it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I'm a developer at Xdrive, we develop the freaking service on MacBook Pro's, but we can't get an OS X client into the feature list. With Apple poised to make major gains against Microsoft re: Vista, I'm floored that we don't consider an OS X client a strategic feature.

          Please, please, bitch and moan about it. Louder. Your voices count for more than mine.

          Grrr... I was going to provide a link to the community forums website (from http://www.xdrive.com/support [xdrive.com]), but that's broken at the moment. Give it a d
    • xdrive seems to think there's a firewall installed, but there isn't. At least not one that I could find.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by popo ( 107611 )
      Especially since XDrive has been around since 1997, was one of the original web 1.0
      storage pioneers and features excellent OS integration (becoming drive X: on your machine).
      It's also both the slickest and most reliable.

      And it gives you 5x the storage of the new players.

      What these newcomers offer that XDrive doesn't isn't at all clear.

  • by rovingeyes ( 575063 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:16PM (#18182128)
    Now isn't this link much better? [extremetech.com]. Why is it so difficult to submit these links instead? Sigh...
  • I just use a program called Unison and sync up my photos and home videos to an NFS share on another box on my lan, but the idea of off site storage has always appealed to me...

    I wonder what kind of solutions that support Linux users are out there... Just talking about a way for a user like me to do an off site backup without having to burn a dvd and take it off site to a safety deposit box...
  • by Paulrothrock ( 685079 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:24PM (#18182232) Homepage Journal

    I've got 224 GB of storage space and 2.6 TB of monthly bandwidth, along with an image gallery, blog, SSH and FTP access, and email with spam filtering for $9.99/month + $10/year for the domain name.

    • Absolutely. (Score:2, Informative)

      by benevixit ( 754447 )
      For those willing to forgo drag-and-drop interfaces, the shared hosting account is a much better storage deal for the buck. The better companies will provide in excess of 100GB for $5-8 per month with regular off-site backups. Oh, and you get web hosting too.

      In contrast, the consumer market companies in the article generally charge the same amount for an order of magnitude less storage. Maybe there's less competition for consumer storage, or higher marketing costs? Regardless, the discrepancy looks l
      • Re:Absolutely. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by adamfranco ( 600246 ) <adam@adamfra[ ].com ['nco' in gap]> on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @03:07PM (#18184508) Homepage

        For those willing to forgo drag-and-drop interfaces, the shared hosting account is a much better storage deal for the buck. The better companies will provide in excess of 100GB for $5-8 per month with regular off-site backups. Oh, and you get web hosting too.

        No need to forgo drag-and-drop. I use Apache-WebDAV over SSL for off-desktop storage. OS X allows you to connect to a WebDAV share just like you would a samba share, and at that point all applications just think it is another drive. There are also a number of dedicated WebDAV clients that can handle all of the file management and permission-setting.

        Granted, getting this set up the first time was quite a pain and you also have to do the work maintaining your own server. Once up and running though, it works like a charm.
      • by jp10558 ( 748604 )
        Well, Mediamax certainly provides somewhere near that though I don't know about the transfer - that might be better with a hosting account. That is, for $10 a month you get 250GB storage and 25GB transfer, plus they support hotlinking to your hosted files and I've seen people host websites right off of there. Of course, what makes mediamax so interesting is the ease of sharing files with other users so you're not paying for everyone's transfer unless you want to.

        Of course, if the above 2.6TB transfer is rea
    • Agreed.

      I get:
      225.3 GB plus an additional 1GB every week.
      2671 GB plus an additional 16GB every week.

      In addition I have a home server.

      3 times a day my laptop rsyncs everything irreplaceable to the server.
      2 times a day the server rsyncs things to other hard drives internally.
      1 time a day the server rsyncs everything to my host.

      My laptop could be run over tomorrow and I'd only lose maybe a few photos at most. My house could burn down tomorrow and everything I really care about (Family Pictures, College Picture
      • Another Dreamhost customer, I see. The great thing about them is that they've got a great backup policy. You should check out the wiki article [dreamhost.com]

        I've been meaning to write the scripts that'll handle all that stuff for me, but haven't really had the time. I've taken to autosyncing my irreplaceables to my iPod whenever it's connected and keeping financial documents in encrypted disk images.

        What I really would like is the ability to mount FTP sites as writeable on my Mac. Rsyncing is fine for backing up, but th

        • Use WebDAV. You can mount a WebDAV server like any other remote file system, and copy files to/from it with ease. If you put your WebDAV directory under your web site's root folder, you can also access the contents via http.
  • by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) * on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:27PM (#18182264) Journal
    Mediamax used to be rather good (very good, in fact) back when it was still called streamload. Unfortunately, last year, they went through a big upgrading and rebranding exercise in August that has virtually destroyed its functionality and reliability.

    The old, usable interface was replaced by a hideous, slow nightmare that, frankly, didn't even look as good as the old version. Files now routinely vanish while being moved between folders, or fail to show up at all after being uploaded. The interface for hosting files for non-members to access has been crippled and passwords or IP restrictions set on such public-hosted folders frequently disappear and reset themselves. Many files uploaded before the conversion to Mediamax have vanished, or remain visible but inaccessible.

    For a month or so after the "upgrade", the support staff seemed to be genuinely trying to fix things. After that, all of the customer interface points were effectively shut down and the company went into full-on spin mode. I can only come to the conclusion that the new back-end for the service is effectively unworkable, but that for whatever reason, either management or the line (or both) cannot admit this and roll back to the old technology.

    I'm on the verge of backing up all my stored content to DVD until I can find another store for it and cancelling my account. I know others will be having similar thoughts. The entire thing seems to be an object lesson into how to run a successful service into the ground.
    • MediaMax has below average Mac support, and gets easily confused with batch transfers. Box can do these, at least, but has weak to poor Safari/Gecko support.

      And none of these has a cool API where one can just write a stream to. It all involves lots of miscellaneous, semi-intuitive file manipulations. All of them should have a method that requires file encryption, unless a file's going to be published freely as none of them USES STRONG PASSWORD ENFORCEMENT. This stuff is rife for a dictionary-attach-afternoo
    • by jp10558 ( 748604 )
      I'm also quite disappointed with the results of moving from Streamload to MediaMax. That said, I haven't lost any files. But the interface is unuseable in Opera now (when it worked fine before) and extremely painfully slow in IE. If any of the other services offer easy sharing and decent space for a decent price I might well switch. But I've yet to see anyone duplicate what SL has for sharing.

      That said, I was going to use them for backup, but their beta app is really beta, crashing every time I close the UI
  • by jeevesbond ( 1066726 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @12:32PM (#18182314) Homepage
    Putting sensitive documents in online storage, on computers not under the document owners control is stupid. The fact these services are met with some success is deeply worrying, why are people not aware it's a bad idea to put so much personal data in the hands of an anonymous corporation?

    But then, I remember MySpace exists... *sigh*
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Stewie241 ( 1035724 )
      In its current form, there are a lot of shortcomings.

      But if one were able to build a client that did on the fly encryption/decryption when uploading and downloading, then you could make it much safer. Of course, you would still not put the most sensitive of sensitive documents there (i.e. don't put your password database there), encrypted or not.
      • by jcnnghm ( 538570 )
        I offer an online storage system to my clients that does just that. I have a SAN with over 5TB free, so offering a few hundred GBs of storage out is no big deal. All files are encrypted on their end before transmission, and we never get the key.

        Even with the source code, I was unable to recover (rightly so) any data for a client that had lost their key. I now offer clients the option of storing the key encrypted on our systems, and then copying their private key onto a usb key for them to keep, in case t
    • by hey ( 83763 )
      Yeah, but most people's documents aren't that sensitive.
      Let say you want to archive your digital photos.
      For average computer users, I'd recommend this kind of thing.
      • Let say you want to archive your digital photos.

        As a parent I take photos of my baby daughter in the tub having a bath (no bottom shots or anything) because I think it's cute. I don't take pictures of her naked because I'm a perv, I take it because bath time is so damned cute. I wonder if that can get into the wrong hands if I upload to one of these companies.

        That'd really kinda suck, and might even land me in trouble if the wrong person were to read something bad into that that really shouldn't be read.
    • So don't use it if you don't like it. What's the point of commenting on a topic you're not interested in just to say that it sucks?
      • What's the point of commenting on a topic you're not interested in just to say that it sucks?
        I never said I wasn't interested.
  • Does anyone know of a service that will allow me to rsync across ssh to an encrypted partition?
    That would be useful.
    • not quite (well, not unless you get yourself a hosting account with ssh access and run rsync yourself), but there is mozy.com which is very similar (if you do go mozy, please use my referral link [mozy.com]). It's a backup service really but it sends changes over the net periodically, and has a web interface to restore files. Everything is encrypted and you can specify your own key.

      If you do go the rsync-yourself route, try BackupPC [sourceforge.net] which is a web frontend to a rsync server, you can get your files from it over the web
    • Re:ssh rsync? (Score:4, Informative)

      by VE3MTM ( 635378 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @01:10PM (#18182832)
      How about http://www.rsync.net/ [rsync.net]?

      I have no affiliation with them, and I've never used their service, but it sounds like what you asked for.
      • by Kludge ( 13653 )
        I would mod you up if I could.
      • by bigberk ( 547360 )
        rsync.net is a fantastic service. I use them for my home and business backups, it is (as implied) ideal for using rsync but the drives also map. With the open source developer discount I pay around $5 a month for 5 GB of space. Reliable service and expertly maintained, highly recommended.
  • ...but close: getindi [getindi.com]. More of a "share stuff with the groups I'm in", e.g., your softball team, church choir, etc.
  • As a Mac user, I am used to paying a little more :-)

    Seriously, the .Mac service for $99/year is a good deal: 1/2 gig storage, nice integration with OS X and Backup, and apparently fairly unlimited bandwidth (I use .Mac as a mirror for some of my downloads).
    • I recommended .Mac to my parents and they're very happy with it. My dad set up a web page for his band with audio clips and a photo gallery all by himself, and he and my mom have email and a backup system.

      My only beef is that you can't get the Backup program without buying .Mac. I've already got a web host, but would love to use it to back up my system to my web host, which I talk about a little bit above your post.

      And, probably because of .Mac, I can't mount an FTP drive as writeable without jumping thro

      • You can mount FTP drives as writable with jumping through hoops? Better than my current state of not being able to do it at all. Care to elaborate?
        • I've not tried it, but I believe there is a FUSE FTP filesystem. You could always use that with the Mac FUSE driver.

          10.4 got the ability to mount WebDAV folders over HTTPS, so you might find that a better solution.

          • I've used Mac FUSE with SSH, but haven't tried FTP yet. I'll poke around and see what I can find out. Thanks.
  • How come these reviews never mention Apple's .Mac service? That's what I'm currently using, and I'd LOVE to find an alternative, as iDisk seizes up Finder all the freakin' time, but I have no clue which of those services integrate with OS X. But even a basic review showing how .Mac compares to the other options would be nice.

    Does anybody have any advice for Mac-compatible (preferably Finder-integrated, like .Mac) online storage?
    • Anything that allows you to access your files over NFS or SMB will integrate quite nicely, as OS X can mount both those file systems as read/write. SMB is how I get my Mac to share files with my Windows machine, and it works flawlessly. Unfortunately, I have't actually found any such services on the web yet. Note that I haven't really looked much either.
  • Many moons ago when I left Uni I dumpped all my data on to a "free" online storage location, knowning that for a month or so I'd be netless, and unable to move my data any other way.

    A month later and it was no longer free, and all my content was "pay up in 60days, or we will delete the lot".
  • Why is there no services using Webdav (AKA Web Folder for Windows)?
    It is quite simple to setup (Apache + webdav module). it is a built-in feature in all OS (except Windows 98 IMHO). You can use HTTP Basic Authentification or something more secured with SSL. And your app will be fully integrated with your client's OS.

    I have developped a large extranet service based on this technology. Pretty simple. You can choose either 100% JAVA based application (and using TOMCAT and all) or Apache 1.X (or 2.X). You don
    • If you want to use WebDav with Windows XP SP2 it has to use authentication over SSL or Windows Authentication otherwise XP blocks it on site. The only way around is through changing a registry key which isn't an apropriate solution for most users
  • Has anyone used Amazon's S3 service? [ http://www.amazon.com/gp/browse.html?node=16427261 [amazon.com] ]

    We're considering using it for yet-another offsite backup of some of our records, in an encrypted form.

    The prospect of being able to use a simple API to update and download backups seems like a great idea to me, but I've yet to find any decent service reviews.
    • Ya, I'm surprised as well; I guess because it's a service with a low-level interface (rather than some nifty Web 2.0 UI).

      I am considering writing a small app to manage an S3 account to store our digital photos. It's cheap, and unlike all the small, new companies listed in the ExtremeTech article, unlikely to be going anywhere soon. They also state a 99.99% up-time, and I suspect they could hit that mark pretty easily.

      I also want the ability to be able to sync a local directory to a remote one (only upload w
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I haven't used it myself but it sounds like you want s3sync.net.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by StanS ( 31710 ) *
          I've been using s3sync to upload/download stuff to Amazon's S3 service for months. It works great. I even use it on Windows (since it's a ruby program, it works anywhere).

          There are many graphical managers as well, I use jetS3t [amazonaws.com], which is a java based gui client.

          The huge added bonus (for me) is that with S3 it's trivial to make something public (with or without authentication), or even have it host a torrent.
  • by Valdez ( 125966 )
    A few more readers need to tag this as slashvertising


    If you submit a link to an article you wrote under the guise "[Website] has just [posted] a new [review of thing]"... where in fact [you] were the one doing the posting of said [review] under the employ of said [website]... you should be stoned.

    Or modded down.

  • Can someone tell me what the point of using these sites for backup purposes is, when you can buy a frickin' flash drive with 4 times that much storage, take it with you anywhere on your keychain, and never have to worry about monthly bandwidth restrictions or trying to upload a 1 GB backup over a crappy broadband connection?


    • by sammyo ( 166904 )
      Just what I was saying to my cubemate, look at this it holds all
      my files, wait, it was right on my keychain. Oh no, if I don't
      find that darned bit of plastic I'm doomed...
    • Personally the data on my servers is worth a hell of a lot more than the servers themselves (years of work). Any local storage backup, including USB drives would go up in flames with the servers in any disaster. This is why automated offsite storage is important. No, I'm not going to go to the server room and grab the USB disk to take with me every day, and then try to remember to plug it in at night. Also, I already have a USB keydisk that I carry around, and it certainly isn't used for backups. No, I'
  • This article concentrates on the interface and sharing, but I want to know answers to these questions before thinking about using them.

    Are the data encrypted on the server? If so, how?

    What prevents a server operator from stealing my data on the server?

    How long are the data kept on the server?

    How are they backed up?

    What kind of guarantee do they give regarding to these?
  • eSnips is riddled with searchable MP3s
    http://esnips.com/_t_/metallica [esnips.com]

    It's only a matter of time before we hear about them in the news
  • The amount of bandwidth and storage they offer at such low prices, I cannot understand how they offer what they do for the price. Perhaps I am being a bit too cynical.
    • by wwmedia ( 950346 )
      lowest price bandwidth is 8-10$ per mbit with cogentco after 1gbit commit 1mbit / month flatout ~ 320GB so yea do the maths
  • Stashbox (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Benski ( 12045 )
    http://stashbox.org/ [stashbox.org] is an up-and-coming storage site. Includes the incredible useful and usable Shup [stashbox.org] screencapture and file upload utility. It can even upload to sites other than stashbox.org

    It's still a work in progress, but the site and tools receive frequent updates.
  • was I the only one who reflexivly covered my groin upon seeing "eSnips"?

    Almost an engrish.com worthy name.

    Could be worse, I suppose, or maybe eUnichs or eBobbitizing was already taken.
  • I'm already paying for an always-on broadband connection at home. For no additional cost, I can access as many "Gigabytes of free storage" as I care to hook up to my home system, and I don't have to worry about some corp reading my private documents, either. I don't understand why more people don't do that (or, to put it another way, why there isn't a piece of software that makes doing it easy enough for everyone and their mother). Dynamic IPs are tricky, but the workarounds aren't that hard to come up w
  • Run your own (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Plug ( 14127 ) on Wednesday February 28, 2007 @04:50PM (#18185964) Homepage
    I spent quite some time looking for a way to run my own web-based file transfer site so accountants could stop e-mailling 10MB data files to each other.

    The best I've seen is Boxroom [rubyforge.org], an OSS Ruby on Rails application for web based file transfer. With the Mongrel web server it does upload progress, recent versions have had in-file search added, and my employer is currently sponsoring the implementation of virtual hosting in it.

    I would like more people to know about this program - it's very cool, and more developers on it would be certainly be appreciated by all of us who use it!
  • iSCSI target (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Gothmolly ( 148874 )
    I have a machine at home running the Linux iSCSI target, and the iSCSI initiator on my laptop. Mount it up just like local storage. Can even swap to it.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern