Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

A tidy option for data pack rats

Filed under
Web

Millions of PC users have relied on Flash drives or other pint-size hard drive storage units to safeguard valuable files. But those portable drives can be broken or lost. And if you need critical documents--or favorite songs or photos--while on the road, many Internet kiosk computers in places like airports do not have USB ports to plug the portable drive into.

Internet companies like Yahoo and America Online, as well as some smaller competitors, have taken aim at these problems by allowing users to store nearly any kind of file on their secure servers. The stored files can then be retrieved from any Internet-connected computer.

These services--some charge a fee, others are free--are useful for many, but not all, consumers and businesspeople, according to Ross Rubin, an analyst with the technology research firm NPD Group. For one thing, having a high-speed Internet connection is practically a requirement, Rubin said. "One of the key issues with all of these is upload time," he said.

And even with a high-speed link, patience is necessary. Using the online data lockers can be confusing at times and unreliable at others--which is perhaps why some digital pack rats are relying on Google's simple e-mail service for storage.

Gmail, which is more than a year old but still available only by invitation, offers 2GB of free storage. That is enough to squirrel away roughly 500 standard-length digital music files, or just about anything else of importance.

I have backed up critical folders and documents through other e-mail services in the past, but Gmail is particularly useful in this regard. Not only does it offer more storage than most other services, but if you forget a file name, you can find it with Gmail's search function.

There is, however, a drawback. Google's terms of service bar users from e-mailing files of more than 10MB. Since most music files are about 5MB, unless a user is willing to build an online music library on Gmail two songs at a time, the service is not very practical for storing music.

Apart from allowing users to upload much bigger files, storage services such as Xdrive, BigVault, Streamload, Apple Computer's iDisk, Yahoo's Briefcase and AOL's My Storage provide more options, like letting users share blocks of digital files with friends or the general public.

On Yahoo, registered users receive 30MB of free storage--a relatively paltry amount compared with other services--but users can buy more capacity for fees ranging from $3 a month (for 50MB) to $5 a month (for 100MB).

Xdrive users pay $10 a month for a minimum storage account of 5GB, BigVault users pay $36 a year for every 100MB stored, while AOL is testing a service with a small number of users that gives them 100MB of online storage for no additional charge beyond the monthly AOL subscriber fee. Apple's iDisk, which works with both Windows and Macintosh computers, costs $100 a year for 250MB of storage.

In terms of free storage, none of the services can beat Streamload. The company began offering 10GB of free disk space this year.

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

today's howtos

Graphics: Texture Compression, Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL), and AMD FreeSync

  • Unity Continues Crunching More Out Of Crunch Texture Compression
    Unity is one of the big public users of the open-source Crunch DXT texture compression library. While it's no longer maintained by Rich Geldreich / Binomial, Unity has continued advancing this open-source code to further improve the compression ratio and speed. For months Unity has been talking about their promising findings with Crunch. But this is the project that Rich Geldreich, the former Valve developer, previously expressed regret having open-sourced all of it. While he is on to working on better and more advanced technologies at his Binomial startup, Unity is working to squeeze more out of this open-source library.
  • Improving EFL Graphics With Wayland Application Redraws
    Under X, application redraws are tricky to do without tearing because content can be updated at any chosen time with no clear feedback as to when the compositor will read it. EFL uses some clever tricks to this end (check out the state of the art X redraw timing for yourself), but it’s difficult to get right in all cases. For a lot of people this just works, or they’re not sensitive to the issue when it doesn’t.
  • Improved Wayland Application Redraws Coming To Enlightenment's EFL
    Samsung's Open-Source Group has been working on making their Wayland support in the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) even better. The latest Wayland work on the Enlightenment/EFL front has been improving the application redraw process. The EFL toolkit with the upcoming v1.21 release will now be hooking into Wayland's frame callbacks to better dealing with drawing, only drawing when necessary, and doing so without the possibility of tearing.
  • AMD FreeSync For Tear-Free Linux Gaming - Current State In 2017
    If you are thinking of gifting yourself (or someone else) a FreeSync-compatible monitor this holiday season, here's a look at how the AMD FreeSync support is working right now, the driver bits you need to be aware of, and how it's all playing out for those wanting to use this tear-free capability for Linux gaming.

KStars 2.8.9 is released!

Here comes the last KStars release for 2017! KStars v2.8.9 is available now for Windows, MacOS, and Linux. Robert Lancaster worked on improving PHD2 support with Ekos. This includes retrieving the guide star image, drift errors and RMS values, among other minor improvements and refactoring of the Ekos PHD2 codebase to support future extensions. Read more

Security: Mirai, Vista 10, Starbucks, and Hacking Team Investigation

  • Mirai IoT Botnet Co-Authors Plead Guilty

    The U.S. Justice Department on Tuesday unsealed the guilty pleas of two men first identified in January 2017 by KrebsOnSecurity as the likely co-authors of Mirai, a malware strain that remotely enslaves so-called “Internet of Things” devices such as security cameras, routers, and digital video recorders for use in large scale attacks designed to knock Web sites and entire networks offline (including multiple major attacks against this site).

  • Google Researcher Finds Flaw in Pre-Installed Windows 10 Password Manager
    Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy, who has previously discovered, reported, and disclosed several major bugs in Windows and its features, came across a new security vulnerability affecting Microsoft users. This time, the flaw exists in the Keeper password manager that comes pre-installed in some Windows 10 versions, with Ormandy explaining that it’s similar to a vulnerability that he discovered in August 2016. “I remember filing a bug a while ago about how they were injecting privileged UI into pages,” Ormandy explained on December 14. “I checked and, they're doing the same thing again with this version,” he continues.
  • Starbucks Wi-Fi Turned People’s Laptops into Cryptocurrency Miners
    The free Wi-Fi that the Buenos Aires Starbucks offers to its customers was being used to mine for cryptocurrency, and what’s worse, it used people’s laptops to do it. The whole thing was discovered by Stensul CEO Noah Dinkin who actually paid a visit to the store and wanted to browse the web using the free Wi-Fi, only to discover that his laptop was unknowingly converted into a cryptocurrency miner. He then turned to Twitter to ask Starbucks if they know about the what he described as bitcoin mining taking place without customers knowing about it. “Hi Starbucks, did you know that your in-store wifi provider in Buenos Aires forces a 10 second delay when you first connect to the wifi so it can mine bitcoin using a customer's laptop? Feels a little off-brand,” he said in his tweet.
  • Italian Prosecutor Makes Request to Close Hacking Team Investigation
    The damaging data breach that exposed the secrets of an infamous surveillance tech company might go unsolved forever. After more than two years, the Italian prosecutor who was investigating the attack on the Milan-based Hacking Team has asked the case to be dismissed, according to multiple sources. On Monday, the Milan prosecutor Alessandro Gobbis sent a notice to the people under investigation informing them that he had sent the judge a request to shut down the investigation, according to a copy of the document obtained by Motherboard.