Web-based file storage

Have you ever suffered a loss of important data as a result of a disk crash? Or do you find the management of backups a pain? Either way, you might want …

5th May 2007 at 9:03 am

Have you ever suffered a loss of important data as a result of a disk crash? Or do you find the management of backups a pain? Either way, you might want to consider storing key files with an online service.

The files would then be accessible over the web from any machine and by anyone with the appropriate authority.

There are at least a hundred providers and fees start from free. Search for ‘”file storage” online’.

If you clicked that link, you’ll have seen that Box.net is currently the top hit in Google.

The key elements of an online storage deal are storage capacity, price, maximum file size and monthly bandwidth.

The free version of Box.net lets you have up to 1GB of storage, a file size limit of 10MB and a monthly bandwidth restriction of 10GB.

It then charges monthly or annually for its other two plans: 5GB storage at $7.95 per month or 15GB storage at $79.95 month. Annual prices are about ten times the monthly prices. Both plans have a 1GB file size limit and allow unlimited bandwidth. The more expensive plan offers a kind of workgroup option in which up to 20 people can share and collaborate through their online documents.

Such services do not absolve you from personal responsibility, but they do provide some peace of mind as well as flexibility with regard to where you work and how the files are accessed. It also takes some of the bandwidth impact away from your own servers.

As a business, I’d be inclined to go for a paid-for service on the grounds that such companies are likely to be in the game for the long term.


Footnote: I’d suggest a read of the small print before setting your strategy. Here are a few key extracts from Box.net’s terms but I expect all storage companies’ terms are similar:

Box.net is in no way liable for loss of customer data.

… you, the customer,acknowledge that you forfeit the right to hold Box.net accountable for any and all technical errors, including lossof user files (customer data).

In the event that Box.net concludes offering data storage services,Box.net users will receive the option to have their stored files sent to them in CD or other format selected by Box.net. Box.net does not guarantee length of service.

…Box.net does not provide any warranties respecting its services,and specifically disclaims any warranty of merchantability orsuitability for particular purposes.

You agree to indemnify and hold Box.net harmless from and against any and all claims, costs, damages, losses, liabilities, and expenses(including, without limitation, attorneys’ fees and costs) resulting from or in connection with your use of Box.net services or breach of this Agreement.

In the event that … Box.net is found responsible to any Box.net user for any reason whatsoever, Box.net’s responsibility shall be limited to the amounts actually paid by such user for Box.net’s services, and shall not include punitive damages or consequential or resulting damages of any nature.


David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World. http://freeformdynamics.com

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  1. Brett Hollis says:

    Interesting indeed. Talk about absolution from ANY and all failure to provide service. I must copy these terms :))

    But seriously, if anyone is looking into things like remote backup and storage, there are a number of elements that should be considered. Among the many are:

    Where is the data stored? Is it secure? Are the premises guarded? Is there fault tolerance? Backup? What happens in the event of a disaster? Who has access to the data? Is it encrypted from the time it leaves your computer (via a software program installed on your computer or securely encrypted website area)?

    All of these things are important. We (www.fibre.net) offer a service similar to these for small businesses who want to back up data online. It CAN be expensive, but it’s the value of the data to you.

    In relation to the article, if you really want, say 4GB of storage to have anywhere with you at any time, I’d get a 4GB memory ‘stick’ just in case.

  2. Amazon charge $0.75 per month for 5GB or $2.25 for 15GB. But their terms and conditions are a lot worse, allowing them to delete your data deliberately for any reason or none at all, or to demand access to your encrypted data to ensure that you aren’t storing anything sexist. And if they start to replicate your data across continents for security (instead of merely across the USA), you could go to prison if anything lands up in the UK.

  3. Mehmet Baker says:

    I’ve been using Box for about a year and have recently found a UK based provider at ewedrive.com that offers online backup (and with some notable differences to Box).

    The main difference is price. Ewedrive has a pay-as-you-go approach or you can unlimited space for a fixed fee.

    They say they don’t limit file size (which was one of the unfortunate things about Box on their Free plan with files limited to 10MB each max).

    Overall been very impressed with the ease of set up and use of Ewedrive BUT be warned they are very new to the scene but worth watching out for.

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