Monday, December 08, 2008

My Take on Web Storage

More and more I am starting to think that my local computer is really the weak link in storage of my data. For this reason I've put a lot of thought into this web based file hosting thing. Here's what I've come to so far.

I use Dropbox a lot. The wonderful thing about it is that the files are actually on your local machine, so you can access them without an internet connection, which is only really important with a laptop. Some people say this is a weakness because it takes up local space, but that never bothered me and I like not relying on the network to get to the files. Whenever you change anything in any of the local files it is synced up to Dropbox so you can get to it from their very slick web page or through any other computer where you have the Dropbox client installed. No manual intervention, it just notices that the files changed and up it goes. Very cool. It also has file history so you can go back to previous versions of files and recover deleted ones.

You can get a free forever account with 2GB of storage but you can pay for more.

I've heard about but haven't use it. It doesn't have the local files that Dropbox has. Here's someone else's good comparison between the two.

Another one that I really really like is This one is my favorite because they don't actually keep your files. You go out and get an amazon s3 (simple storage service) where your data is hosted and encrypted by amazon's very cool cloud disk in the sky. Jungledisk just organizes it like a filesystem for you and provides automated backup software etc. You just buy jungledisk software once (you can try it for free) and that's it. Upgrades for life. And you pay amazon for the storage, which is pretty cheap ($0.15/GB/month).

This solution really is nice because you are trusting the 800 lbs amazon gorilla with your data, and not some random fly by night company. The jungledisk file access parts are open source so you will never not be able to get your data.

So I like Dropbox's implementation but jungledisk gives me the warm fuzzies. The amazon s3 prices are still a little steap for a full out backup solution as my 2 year old is one of the more well documented individuals ever and the pictures are piling up. Of course, I have to back it up locally with multiple disks, so maybe I'm just kidding myself with how much it really costs.


SeanLindoNU said...

This is Sean at Thanks for mentioning us in your post. Beyond the storage factor, Box's service is all about using and sharing the content you have online, so I would encourage you to check it out. In addition to the ease with which you can access and share files and folders with anyone, we have a lot of popular third party applications from Zoho, Picnik, ThinkFree and other providers that tie directly into If you check it out, I'd love to get your feedback sometime.

Tom said...

Although it's Mac-only, you might want to check out It's priced for unlimited use, where "unlimited" means basically the size of your local hard drive - since it doesn't support backing up external storage devices with that pricing plan.

That said, I've sadly given up on all online backup solutions. If your storage needs are modest, it's trivial to manage yourself with a spare disk and some software. I've really liked FolderShare (acquired by MSFT) which synchronizes folders across the web - Mac and Windows. Not only does it keep your data such that you can use it on two computers, but that's also free redundancy.

I also have a media collection (movies, music, etc) approaching 2 TB which I'd really like backed up, but none of the online storage solutions are cost effective. Even Amazon's pricing doesn't reflect the decreasing price of storage. It should either get cheaper over time, or should automatically grow, otherwise their pricing structure basically becomes more expensive over time relative to the cost of drives.

Tom said...

My bad - Mozy is Mac + Windows. And I didn't realize that Dropbox did sync too. Wow, my comment sucked.

John Russell said...

That's ok Tom, your comment about Amazon hard drive price inflation was right on, that makes up for the rest of the drivel. Seems like their prices should be dropping. I think there is a minimum size where amazon would be worth it though. maybe 5GB of stuff or so makes a lot of sense to keep it on s3 for ~$15 a year.

However, I'm right there with the ridiculous amount of media so its not better than two mirrored drives.

2TB though, geez. Do you just store a movie of your life in real time?

Tom said...

I've been ripping all of my Netflix movies uncompressed (VIDEO_TS folders) to an Infrant (now Netgear) ReadyNAS. At ~700MB each, storage has a way of disappearing.

Tom said...

Of course, by 700MB I meant 7GB. I should really use the "preview" button more often.

Jason Kolb said...

I dunno, I store a ton of stuff on S3 and it runs me about $10/month. If you break the cost of an external hard drive ($300'ish) down over its useful life (4-5 years) it's only a few bucks a month less for local storage, and you still have to deal with backups.

John Russell said...

I don't think its quite that cut and dry. $10/month is about 65GB of storage. I currently have twice that and growing with pictures every month. $300 is pretty outrageous a price for an 80GB drive. There is a western digital 2TB external (1TB if you want RAID) for $250. Now I don't need all that space, but the price is hard to beat.

Of course, Amazon provides much better data security than I ever could in my house, but $20/month and growing is still steep.