Web Storage review: the World Wide Hard Drive

Running a computer without a hard disk isn't easy, especially when it comes to file storage options. But a proliferation of new Web 2.0 options has made it a lot easier to keep your files stored and organized online without needing specialized software or a technical knowhow. Web storage options fall into basically two categories: storage centric and sharing centric. it's obvious that if you're looking for a hard drive replacement, storage centric is the way. There are a whole host of services for you to try out, here's a short list: AllMyData, Box.net, eSnips, Freepository, GoDaddy, iStorage, Mofile, Mozy, Omnidrive, Openomy, Streamload, Strongspace and Xdrive.

Now, not all of these are suitable for the purpose of a hard drive free system. For example, Xdrive's free version gives you 5GB of space, but lasts only for a month. For me, paying for storage is not something I'm ready to do at the moment. Then there is AllMyData, which brings ideas from file-sharing to web storage: you get webspace only if you give a part of your own hard drive for others to store their files on. Not only can i not use this service, but I don't think storing your data on computers that aren't dedicated to file storage is a good idea. Streamload on the other, takes the word "storage" very literally. Everyone gets a whopping 5GB of space for free, but there's a catch, your bandwidth is limited. In the free version you can only download 100MB a month. So it's good if you want to stash away your whole hard drive, but doesn't quite cut it for a hard-drive-less machine. I'm currently using a service called Openomy, which gives a free 1GB of storage and uses a simple tag system to organize your files.

The leader of the pack, in my opinion and for my needs is Omnidrive. It gives you 2GB of space, with no bandwidth or file size restrictions and has an open API, allowing you to integrate it into your applications. But what takes the cake is a technology which allows you to open, edit and save back a file to their system, without actually downloading it onto your hard drive. This is a great feature to have if you've lost your hard disk. I haven't tried it out yet, because it's still in private beta, but one of their support staff got back to me after i asked for an invitation and told me that i'll get an invite in a few days. I'll check it out then and i sure hope it lives up to expectation.

There is one more storage option that deserves mention: Gmail. For many people Gmail's huge 2.5GB inbox is far too much for just simple email. There are a number of tools out there that allow you to use your Gmail account to store files. However I wouldn't recommend this unless you're desperate or just can't help experimenting. It's not that I doubt the quality of the tools, but rather that Google has been known to make random changes to it's code internally and one of those changes might break the tools you're using, And why go to all that trouble when there are far simpler and more reliable options out there? But if you are interested in Google's file system, then go take a look at this article. Hope this has been informative, and if know about anything that can aid my quest for hard-drive free computing, do leave a comment.

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Yahoo! Now you can Google your Notebook!

As the title shamelessly screams, this post is about Yahoo! and Google Notebook. Yahoo has released it's new homepage to public use, and it's a nice change from what it had earlier. However I can't help thinking that it's just a tad more cluttered than what it was before. Personally I don't really use Yahoo! at all. I've almost never used it's search and I only used it's mail briefly. The use of AJAX is quite nice though, but it would be nice if you could customize it, like Netvibes, or even personalized Google homepage. Yahoo! has always been somewhat of an oddity for me, I never really understood why it was around, or what it was used for. I mean, Google's used for searches, Flickr's used for pics, but what's Yahoo! used for? Yes I know it's a portal, but I never really found a use for it and so you could say that I am a bit indifferent to what happens to it.

On to Google. Now that's a company that I see a lot of. Firstly I use Gmail, and firstly as well, I use their search everyday. And my first blog was on Blogger (though I quit that in six months). Now I like Google, despite all the hype about privacy loss etc. etc., for the simple reason that they give me free software and services that really are quite good. But of late, Google has been a bit disappointing. Blogger hasn't had any real improvements (like categories or stat tracking) for ages, the main page deserves a bit of an overhaul and many of it's newer products seem distinctly half-hearted. Take Google Notebook for instance, It appears to be a direct competitor to Del.icio.us, it lets you "bookmark" content on the web, add your note to it, categorize it and save it. But there is no tagging system and you can't place content in multiple categories. Like I said before, half-hearted. Another similar example is Google Calendar, which loses hands down to more mature apps like Kiko or 30boxes.

Maybe it's about time that Google stop rolling out new products and take more care in improving and integrating existing ones. It is beyond me why Google is so keen to roll out clones of existing popular services, when it would be easier to just integrate existing services with ones that Google already has. For example, wouldn't it be great to have Gmail, Blogger, Del.icio.us, Flickr and your calendar app, say Kiko, all seamlessly integrated into one great Web 2.0 interface? Google, slam on the brakes and give your policy a good look through.