Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

A tidy option for data pack rats

Filed under

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

Android 6.0 Marshmallow review

Android, Google’s mobile operating system, has matured a lot over the past year. It’s running on 1.4 billion devices (up from 1 billion last year) and its most popular app store, Google Play, has more than 1 billion active users. In the last quarter, IDC estimates that Android held 82.8 percent of the global smartphone market. As its newest iteration, 6.0 Marshmallow, rolls out, Android’s going incredibly, undeniably strong. Read more

At the Heart of OpenStack Evolution

As it matures, OpenStack's parallel to Linux is clearer. Linux emerged 20 years ago as a somewhat exotic challenger to proprietary operating systems. Today, it is one of the most popular and widely used OSes. However, Linux still exists in a market of mixed use. It's likely that OpenStack will be subject to the same effect, becoming a viable option among a number of cloud infrastructures. Read more

GParted Live Gets the Latest Updates from Debian Sid

GParted Live, a small bootable GNU/Linux distribution for x86-based computers that can be used for creating, reorganizing, and deleting disk partitions, has been upgraded to version 0.23.0-2 and is now available for download. Read more

MATE-Desktop 1.11 Released, Working Towards MATE 1.12

MATE developers are currently working towards MATE 1.12. MATE 1.12 is expected to have full support for GTK3, initial support for Wayland, support for GNOME Account Servers, full support for systemd's logind, xf86-input-libinput driver support, and various other changes. The work-in-progress items can be found via the MATE-Desktop Roadmap. Read more