Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Free Online File Storage

I've been a fan of online storage for many years. The simple benefits are that they provide a means of backing up personal files and also making those files available from anywhere. Some services will allow you to share files or folders with other users so it becomes another way of distributing files that e-mail systems can't cope with. With broadband speeds ever increasing, it makes using these services even faster as well.

NB: I'm not going to cover image hosting services here. Although you could store images in any online storage service, there are some specifically tailored to suit sharing out or publishing image collections and I'll get to them another day.

Here are some of the better known free storage providers…

BT Digital Vault - 2Gb Free

Offers a free, basic service with 2GB of storage. Pay £5 a month for the full package and you'll get 20GB and a Backup Manager application that will automatically backup any new or updated documents on your system. The Backup Manager isn't yet Macintosh compatible but they're working on it. Be aware that, if you’ve subscribed to the free Basic service, your files will be only kept for 90 days from your last visit.

Box.net - 1Gb Free

Offers 1Gb of storage for free and you can share your files with any other Box.net user. Sign up for a premium or pro account and you can also get more space, public and workgroup sharing and blog posting. They're working on PC and Macintosh applications to allow automatic file synchronization. The only negative I can see is that the free service has a file size limit of 10Mb.

XDrive - 5Gb Free

Get 5Gb of space for free that you can share or even publish online. You can also allow others to access and even edit your files. Their Desktop Software for Windows allows your XDrive storage to be mounted as an external drive and schedule automatic backups and there's even an interface to allow access from PDAs. You'll need an AOL or AIM account to get an XDrive space but they're free too.

MediaMax - 25Gbs Free

Offers 25Gbs for free with options to upgrade to a range of paid services with up to 1000Gb of storage. It comes with a pretty good set of tools for uploading, sharing and hosting files, music, photos and movies and you can send e-mail links to facilitate sending large files to others.

While 25Gbs is the largest free offering I could find, there are a few limitations for free accounts. You can only download up to 1Gb/month and you can't download any file larger than 25Mb. Same goes for e-mail links.

myDataBus - 5Gbs Free

Another good looking free storage provider, offering 5Gb for free and the only limitation I could see was a 500Mb limit on file size. All files are virus scanned, it comes with group collaboration tools and you can share music, photos, videos, etc. as well as mail links to large files.

There are a host of others offering lower capacity free storage so here's the best of the rest that I could find…

There are even a couple of services offering unlimited free storage but with some conditions worth taking into account. Here's a couple as an example…

KeepMyFile - Unlimited Free

A completely free service that allows file and image hosting but with some major limitations. Uploaded files have a maximum size of 20Mb each with image formats limited to 2.5Mb. They make no guarantees as to file availability and reserve the right to delete or disable access to any file without notice and if a file does not get accessed over a period of 40 days it will eventually be deleted.

MediaFire - Unlimited Free

Offers unlimited uploads with no file size limitations and unlimited bandwidth restrictions on downloading. However, it is fully ad-supported so be prepared to be bombarded with ads while you're using it. They make no guarantees as to availability and reserve the right to change, suspend or discontinue all or any aspect of the services at any time.


Niven said...

There are much better online storage and backup services than the one you have mentioned above. One among them is IBackup, a highly rated service.

You can do quick and safe backups of files and folders with their application IBackup for Windows. IBackup has a slick and user-friendly interface with which you can do easily select files and folders for incremental and compressed backups. This will also greatly reduce your network bandwidth by transferring only portions of file that were modified or changed.

You can easily restore files and folders backed up from ‘Snapshots’ of files maintained in your IBackup account. IBackup also performs backups of open files and individual mailboxes to your online account. Access your data in IBackup while on the move using handheld devices such as Blackberry or Treo using ILite. It has the ability to stream and play multimedia content like audio or video files while you are on the move for supported devices. Just install a music player on your handheld device.

Using IDrive (www.ibackup.com/IBDrive_new.htm) you can map your online IBackup account as a network drive on your computer. IBackup’s browser-based application ‘Web-Manager’ can automatically sense the presence of these images and display thumbnails of backed up images in a 'Media Gallery'. In the Media Gallery you can shuffle between images and also watch a slide show of the images stored in a particular folder. You will find this useful for presentation of your business documents/images. You can even share an entire folder containing images with friends and family by creating sharable links and emailing them top others.

For added security, you can use IBackup Professional. In this the encryption is based on a user-defined key so that the data stored on IBackup Professional servers cannot be decrypted by anybody other than you. You can also restore up to 30 prior versions of files backed up, including the most recent version of the data files. The backed up files are stored by default in the encrypted form using AES 256-bit encryption.

Allan Ogg said...

Agreed, there are better solutions out there but the ones I've listed are free and LBackup isn't!

At almost $10/month for 5Gb it's actually quite expensive and if you want to use that snapshot facility the price rises to almost $15/month.

Neil Winton said...

If you don't mind taking a slightly tangential approach to the problem there is a way of creating unlimited(?) free online storage space by using
Gmail Space.
This is an add-on for Firefox that will allow you to use your gmail storage as an online harddrive. This will give you roughly 2.5GB free storage... per gmail account.

I have several gmail accounts that I have created, but only two of them are 'real' email. I use the rest as online storage. The key to keeping tabs on what is stored where is to give your new gmail account a suitably memorable name, eg: [yourname]workfiles (at) gmail.com or [yourname]holidaypics (at) gmail.com, etc...

Using this method, I have almost 15GB of free online storage at my disposal... (and admittedly only about 100MB actually backed up!)
Worth thinking about!

Allan Ogg said...

Thanks for the suggestion on using GMail for space Neil. I already use GMail Space and have also tried the stand alone apps gDisk for the Mac and Gmail Drive for Windows. Multiple accounts may well be a way of increasing your storage but you could easily do the same with any of the other solutions.
I can't help thinking that taking advantage of a free service in that way will eventually come back to bite everyone.

Dorin-Bogdan said...

Pixilive is a free image hosting service. Upload your pictures, images or videos and share them easily with your friends, family, or on Forums, messenger mail, Blogs, Avatars, etc.. This service is completely FREE!!

Image types: jpeg, jpg, png, gif, bmp, tif, tiff
Maximum file size for Images: 5 MB
Video types: avi, mpg, wmv, mov, mpeg, mp4, flv
Maximum file size for Videos: 10 MB
Unlimited storage hosting period.
Unlimited bandwidth
No registration required

Upload,copy codes and paste!3 easy steps & it's free!

Allan Ogg said...

Another free, unlimited storage provider has eneter the arena - AnyHub
No sign-up is required, file size limit is 10Gb and current plans have restrictions on retention or volume.

James Kirby said...

Thank you for this useful list for online storage. I will choose the best online storage for me. But for now I am also using the one of the best online storages which is the Mimedia. Thank you for sharing anyway.

Allan Ogg said...

James, thanks for that. The post is a bit dated now and I already have a MiMedia account.
Might be time refresh this.