A friend at work suggested I try out a free online storage facility as an off-site personal backup and for sharing files with friends. He suggested DropBox, who offer 2Gb free, plus more if you pursue their viral marketing strategy. I have not tried it yet, but I notice that free storage is quite a popular service these days. My home ISP gives me 5Gb of storage free. BT and Sky in the UK both offer the same, including to non-customers. In fact, all three of these carrier-based free services are implemented by Casero, who can also boast other customers such as Bell, Cox, Telus and more.
In addition to ISPs, many other companies/organisations provide online storage. Specialist services such as Amazon S3 are intended for business users but there are many free solutions for private use. Here is a quick summary of some Permanently Free (to anyone) online storage services as of Jan 2010:
- Adrive 50Gb. Free version does not permit concurrent access.
- Badongo No storage limit. Restricted download capacity for shared files.
- Box.net 1Gb. 25Mb individual file maximum.
- divShare 5Gb. Offers autotranscoding of media files.
- DropBoks 1Gb. 10Mb individual file maximum.
- DropBox 2Gb. Supports backup and file sync.
- IDrive 2Gb. Includes file/folder sync.
- in.solit.us No storage limit. Includes WebDAV support.
- MediaFire No storage limit. 200Mb sharing limit for individual files.
- Megashares 10Gb. Restricted download capacity for shared files.
- MegaUpload 200Gb. Pause of 25 seconds before published files will download.
- Mozy 2Gb, with their own file sync s/w.
- Omemo. Spanish open source project. Peer-to-peer virtual hard drive. No space limitations.
- Sky 1Gb. Manual upload/download.
- SkyDrive 5Gb. Windows Live service.
- SugarSync 2Gb.
- Yuntaa 1 Gb. Includes file/folder sync and versioning.
Free services are usually funded via advertising and/or commercial premium versions with more features and fewer limitations. Some services are described as free, but in reality they are trials of the commercial service. This can be a tricky model to sustain, and as a result these services can be short lived, so don’t be surprised if the links above are no longer valid. New services appear regularly, some of which may result from acquiring a high-profile free service, some being merely me-too copycats. Despite what they may claim, your data is only important to them so long as the business is viable. If they go bust, who knows what might happen to your data. Encryption (before uploading) is advised.
The limitations mentioned in the list may only apply to the free versions. The paid versions of many of these services will offer additional features, such as automatic file/folder sync, versioning, unlimited download capacity etc. I’m not going to summarise the commercial solutions here.
Meanwhile, the Google GDrive seems to be still just a rumour.
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