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Virtual Storage and Network Backup – Review

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The following is a update on a previous review I did of virtual storage and backup vendors backup in March 2006. I’ve limited the set of vendors to those offering pure play virtual storage and those focused on pure play network backup. This excludes offerings from the photo sharing sites (Flickr, PhotoBucket et al), hosting vendors (e.g. GoDaddy) and social networks (MySpace and Bebo). I’ve also excluded those who are currently in beta and are not advertising price plans or business models.

Since I did the original survey the whole virtual storage market has exploded with rumours of both Microsoft and Google entering the fray, new entrants raising significant VC and a dramatic drop in prices for the major players.

Full size picture

The companies surveyed are summarised below, this is somewhat arbitrary selection based on Mike Arrington’s original Virtual storage review and my own experience of the space.

  • AllMyData: Pure Play virtual storage with the added benefit of being able to share your own internal storage in order to contribute to the AllMyData storage grid. You get back what you offer on a roughly 10 to 1 basis i.e. for each 10MB of local storage you donate you get 1MB of secure virtual storage. This is a nice plan but it depends a lot on end-user trust. Tricky sell, when the world is telling you how unsafe the Internet is. Still benefits from being the cheapest kid on the block in terms of overall storage costs, regardless of whether you contribute to the grid or not. Their costs are probably dependent on a substantial proportion of their users contributing to the grid. Good luck guys!
  • Streamload/MediaMax: Used to be called StreamLoad but are rebranding as MediaMax. There plan is to be your personal online media host. To this end they offer a whopping 25GB free for all registered users. BUT read the not so small small print. File sizes are capped at 25MB for the free plan (no storing your videos or DVDs please) and you can only download 1GB a month. So don’t expect to stream directly from here into you home wireless network (well not for more than a few hours). The pay-for-storage plans remove the file size restriction and increase the download limits per month to 10GB (premium), 25GB (elite) and 100GB (professional). Hmm, is it cooler to be elite or professional, oh the agonies of market segmentation.
  • Amazon S3: I include S3 purely as a  price mark as it is just and API for developers at the moment. However ,while the ordinary Man in the street can’t use S3 directly, Jeremy Zwadony has collected a great list of S3 providers that you can download and attach to your S3 account. Most are free. The stinger with S3 is the bandwidth charges. Most of the other virtual vendors ignore the bandwidth costs because end-users can’t grok them, but Amazon wants other people to hide those costs for end-users (i.e. people like me). Still for the security of a big name vendor combined with a great price, S3 is hard to beat.
  • Xdrive: XDrive was one of the bad boys in our previous survey coming in at a whomping $100 a year for 5GB of storage. However AOL obviously shook some sense into them and now you can get the same 5GB absolutely free. They also have a nice downloadable client that setups another labelled drive for access just like windows explorer. This is great for windows users, but the absence of FTP, WebDav or other access mechanisms means this client must be installed before you can use the software. This can be a pain if you are away from your own PC, and of course Mac users need not apply.
  • Box.net: One of the first of the “new boys”, first with an API, first with a chunk of free storage (1GB) and recently in receipt of a nice chunk of change from Draper Fisher Jurvetson. You gotta love box.net who just do storage plain and simple. A big cheer for the little guy!
  • iBackup: One of the old school (I was an iBackup customer until XDrive started throwing 5GB chunks around the place like confetti), iBackup’s strengths are in ubiquity of access. HTTP upload, FTP, WebDav, you name it they do it. This means they work real pretty with those lonely in the corner platforms like Linux and OS-X (the Mac O/S). Of course, they just can’t get used to the fact that somebody kicked the stool from under the virtual storage market so their prices (although dropping) haven’t kept pace with market trends. Still I bet they have a whole pile of incumbent customers paying top dollar ($20 per GB per year) who haven’t heard the news.
  • Strongspace: Virtual space for superman surely! Strongspace people are big into security and won’t tolerate a virtual vendor that even considers using ftp. SFTP only Ma’am and you’d better know your gibibytes from your gigabytes. Of course all this security comes at a cost and with prices like $15 per month for 5GB (doh! I mean Gibibytes) maybe they are targetting the DoD as a potential customer. The rest of us should consider a lower priced vendor.
  • iStorage: Now to make StrongSpace look cheap you have to get up pretty early in the morning. That’s no problem for theses fellas. They stayed up all night drinking so as to make StrongSpace look like good value. Each time I do this I have to double check my figures and gasp in awe and the audacity of these bad boys. Oh, hold on, wait a minute, now I get it, THEY’RE HARDWARE MANUFACTURERS. I can just see the meeting where the head of sales say “make sure those software boys don’t undercut our overpriced but lucrative disk business”. Don’t worry buddy, they didn’t.
  • Fluxiom: You are taking the piss, no come on now, this is a satire site! The fact that you price your storage per MB ($36 per MB per Month) should be a giant RUN AWAY sign for anybody who comes near your service! I couldn’t even put you on the graph because all the other vendors disappeared in comparison.

There are a host of other services emerging as we speak. OmniDrive and MyFabrik to name two and of course if Microsoft and Google make good on their network hints then we could be in for some craic. Expect more upheavals in the near future as the Virtual Storage Vendors try and morph into network backup vendors and vice-versa.

The full table of price comparison data is available.

Virtual Storage Prices Oct-2006

Next week, Network backup vendors.

Written by Joe

November 3, 2006 at 8:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

27 Responses

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  1. By the way, what’s your recommendation then?

    Darren

    November 3, 2006 at 10:11 pm

  2. It depends. If your a windows person and use only one machine then XDrive is pretty good. If you need to get your data whereever you are then I used to quite like iBackup. If cost is a factor them one of the S3 things might work best. I guess the question is what do you want to do?

    For many people network backup may be what they are actually looking for, but thats for next week….

    Joe

    November 3, 2006 at 10:18 pm

  3. Hi, I am the CEO of Omnidrive. We are launching next week at the Web 2.0 conference. Omnidrive will let you aggregate your storage from different computers and web apps into a single place – so you can read/write your files from different web apps (flickr, zoho, etc.). We will offer free accounts that will give the user 1GB of storage and allow you to have 5 ‘sources’. The pro accounts will let you have an unlimited number of sources and will give you 10GB in the Omnidrive cache for $40 per year. If you would like to try it out before we go live next week, send an email to beta@omnidrive.com and I will send you an account.

    Nik Cubrilovic

    November 4, 2006 at 4:18 am

  4. I should also mention that I got included in the Box.net beta, and it’s worked very well for me. I dig their interface.

    Darren

    November 4, 2006 at 6:15 am

  5. Nik,

    I’m already registered for the beta as Joe-at-joedrumgoole.com. Perhaps you could press an expedite button internally ;-).

    Joe

    November 4, 2006 at 10:32 am

  6. Joe – sent! It is an invite to the old release, your account will be upgraded to the new release before we launch on Tuesday. Email me if you have any feedback/questions – hope you enjoy it

    Nik Cubrilovic

    November 4, 2006 at 2:46 pm

  7. If you need some trusted service to backup your critical data, try a pioneer service like IBackup (www.ibackup.com). IBackup has a proven track record of delivering the best service among all the online backup and restore services. PC World has recently rated IBackup as the `best all-round backup service’ in a review of such services.

    IBackup’s online backup services include applications for interactive and automatic scheduling of backups with compression and encryption during transmission, incremental/full backups, synchronization, advanced logging and reporting. You can also backup open files with IBackup. IBackup supports backups for UNIX and Linux based computers using rsync. IBackup accounts are compatible with most FTP clients on most platforms providing a powerful flexible tool to transfer files.

    To make things easy for you IBackup have a cool application called ‘IDrive’ (www.ibackup.com/IBDrive_new.htm). Using this, you can map the online account as a local drive on your computer and work on the documents or data as if they are on your PC. Installing and using it is very easy and it has 128-bit support. Backup your music or video files in your account and then hear or watch them with a media player with ‘IDrive Multimedia’ and create playlists or fast forward songs.

    With ‘Web-Manager’ you can share these files by creating sharable links and emailing them to your buddies and partners. The `Private Share’ feature allows an IBackup account holder to instantly share portions of the account with another IBackup user. The shared data becomes immediately available to the shared user and it integrates seamlessly with the shared user’s account.

    Sancho

    November 7, 2006 at 1:31 pm

  8. Sancho,

    yes, ibackup is good (and I alluded to that in my review) but unfortunately S3 has set the price point for online virtual storage at 15 cents (USD) per gb per month. That makes IBackup ten times more expensive. That is not a strong competitive position to be in.

    Joe

    November 7, 2006 at 2:23 pm

  9. Besides the sites mentioned above I was introduced by a friend to another American company, Bytek Systems. They seem to be operating in this on-line storage market as well, offering 2GB for free. The GUI is very cool and allows for web publishing, blog, mobile phone integration.

    Check out: http://www.diino.com

    Otherwise I am a fan of Xdrive.

    Mr Mac

    November 8, 2006 at 7:51 pm

  10. […] Arrington asks “What ever happened to GDrive?” especially now with SkyDrive and a host of others offering large online storage for peanuts. Well its no biggy if you stop for a second to think past […]

  11. http://www.backupanytime.com allow free online backup for masters students and half price for life for grads. I dont know if the course content is relevant. The idea is that we will convince our employers to go for the commercial pack. They offer unlimited retention and client side encryption management. Not bad if your a student…..

    Pareto

    pereto molword

    January 17, 2008 at 9:22 pm

  12. I got a backupanytime account as a fresher last year. I quit college since and am moving to a new course next year. I called backupanytime as I reckoned the backup account was related to my student number at nuig as was concerned it could come up as a red flag. They told me not to worry as their reason for offering free backup to studens was we would get familliar with the system and use it commercially through our employers in the future. Neat!

    jim goode

    February 12, 2008 at 1:32 pm

  13. ibackup is ok for non critical data. If you need a comercial solution which involves client data, you should not be backing up your data outside of Ireland. This I learned at a data protection conference last month. I suppose it adds up. I wouldn’t be comfortable if an Irish company was backing up data pertaining to me outside of Ireland or ourside of data protection regulation.
    So, can anyone tell me the names of a few Irish online backup companies who do not send data outside of Ireland? I found a few and wow did they want me to pay for the privilidge…..

    Nancy

    nancy

    February 19, 2008 at 12:50 am

  14. Hi Nancy,

    Hosting365 are about to launch a new online storage / backup service in the next week or so.

    Feel free to email stephen AT hosting365.com for more.

    Stephen McCarron

    February 19, 2008 at 9:56 am

  15. Host with a hosting company. Backup with a backup company. They are two entirely different markets. I wouldn’t host with a backup company or vice versa. Not a smart move by 365. A real example of prostituting the product. Why do they think they are differenct to all the other companies who failed in online backup….

    nothanks steve

    March 19, 2008 at 3:48 am

  16. Hi ‘no thanks’

    We’ve been selling backups to our customers for the last 4 years and are currently backing up more than 1,000 machines. Offering online managed storage is also something we’ve been doing for years, we’re now just offering a more cost effective ‘on demand’ type service at http://www.hosting365.com

    Stephen McCarron

    March 20, 2008 at 10:31 am

  17. I agree with the earlier poster. Host with hosting companies and backup with backup companies. I run a small I.T. business and encourage clients to use an Irish based online backup company. From my experience, hosts do not actually backup, they mirror whereas online backup companies have to backup daily. So, nothing wrong with a host for cheap hosting but if they start offering online backup without a clear written guarantee they will backup as against just a mirror server service, get out.
    Stephen, do hosting365 actually backup? Give me some details and if so give me some pricing….
    I have approx 130 clients, about one quarter of which backup online with three differnet irish online backup specialists. I reckon I could move them all and in time the remaining non online backup clients but I dont think hosting companies backup manually. That would require your servers to stop and cause hosting and mail problems…
    Karl

    Karl

    karl

    April 7, 2008 at 12:35 am

  18. Hi Karl,

    Register365 is our shared hosting brand – http://www.hosting365.com provides managed, data centre hosted IT services. We host entire comms rooms and virtual datacentres for clients, so our business is a lot more than just website hosting.

    We do offer backups solutions, however, given the number of your customers, we can deploy you an Ahsay based Backup platform, which you can sell to your customers and increase your margin and revenue.

    Ahsay is the platform used by almost all of the local backup providers (some of whom we host). We can quote you a simlpe monthly fee for the kit and storage, as well as the ahsay licenses if you wish (we are an Ahsay partner and reseller) and you can improve your bottom line.

    Email stephen-AT-hosting365.com if you want more info, and I can have our Channel Sales Manager give you a call.

    Stephen McCarron

    April 7, 2008 at 11:22 am

  19. Stephen, I think you missed Karls point. He explained (in his words) that he would not backup with a hosting company and left a question lingering about the actual daily manual backup procedure (iF ANY) which hosting companies use for client online backup data. You either did not read the post correctly or chose to see his opinion as weak and his question as rhetorical because you did not answer the question and offered him onine backup with your hosting company. I think is should be obvious to you that I too have less respect for hosts when they start offering opnline backup because I dont believe that all hosts come from a backup critical background and would have great concerns about availing of online backup from them. I represent the it needs of a corporate level non it company. I backup online in the UK with a company using asigra and when our Irish host (not you I hasten to add) spammed me regarding their new Ahsay based online backup service, I moved host.

    Marrion

    April 20, 2008 at 5:45 pm

  20. Hi Marion,

    Sorry if I missed Karls point, but my point was that hosting365 is not just a shared hosting company. Just 25% of our revenues come from hosting shared websites (now under our register365 brand) – with the balance from our growing managed services business. We host transactional systems for people as diverse as KLM, Tesco, Carphonewarehouse, the Irish Credit Unions and the Irish Army. Security, Enterprise Grade infrastructure and critical backups and disaster recovery are things both us and our customers take seriously.

    Asigra is an excellent product, if costly, we used to use it ourselves before switching to Ahsay for most customers.

    Stephen McCarron

    April 20, 2008 at 10:32 pm

  21. Switch from Asigra to Ahsay? No offence intended but in software terms that is about as big a downgrade as is possible. Effectively from a Bently to a Lada (not just metaphorically but more or less in money as the jump is from 150k to 1k)
    You are backing up 1000 systems? Not in Ireland you aint. The market is circa 4000 computers using online backup spread over circa 28 providers. Are you tellin us you have 25% of the market? Come on, say so please…..

    Fergal

    May 6, 2008 at 6:12 pm

  22. Hi Fergal,

    Perhaps you’re confusing ‘servers’ with ‘computers’. Perhaps the Irish ‘backup’ market is 4000 machines, but in our datacentre in park west alone we host nearly 3,000 machines, and backup just under 1,000 of those using our Ahsay platform.

    I’m very familiar with Asigra (we used to be Central Data Bank partners) and, to be honest, I don’t see any significant benefits over Ahsay, other than it being horribly overpriced.

    The Irish ‘backup’ scene is a little ‘sensitive’ if I were to take the tone of your comments to heart 🙂

    Stephen McCarron

    May 6, 2008 at 8:23 pm

  23. Hi Stephen
    I can understand the attraction from a cost point of view of an individual using a hosting company for data backup. However, for the point of view of a business, surely an Asigra solution from a specialist online backup company like central data bank has to be superior to a host company Ahsay solution. I know what you mean by sensitive. I read through the posts. (:

    Declan Power

    June 29, 2008 at 5:39 pm

  24. Other than the differences between the software tools, it’s also important to look at the architecture and hardware behind the backups. I’ve seen many ‘specialist’ backup providers storing data on inexpensive SATA drives, in standard servers, etc. Whereas, with our scale and cost base, our backups are stored on a redundant SAN cluster, all Fibre Channel, with hardware replication to a second site. I would wager few if any of the specialists could do better / come close.

    Stephen McCarron

    July 11, 2008 at 3:38 pm

  25. Stephen, while I havent visited many ’specialist’ backup providers” I’m in no doubt that some are storing data on inexpensive SATA drives, in standard servers, etc. sitting in offices. Most backup providers in Ireland are using Ahsay and when I say most, I would reckon 95% (Keepitsafe, Datahaven, Host-IT, Strencom, Bondi-Group etc). and most will tell you they are the biggest providers in the country. Take Arion Backup they claim to have invested in infrastructre in 2 data centres when in fact they just resell for Keepitsafe. Databackup.ie state they backup into 2 data centres, DEG & WebWorld. WebWorld is an office in an industrial estate which databackup.ie happen to share. I dont think you could call this a data centre. My point is you get what you pay for, it’s also important to look at the compines selling the services.

    Yvonne

    July 23, 2008 at 12:30 pm

  26. Yvonne 🙂 our company name is coming out of your mouth on various blogs so much I am beginning to think you are the newest member of our PR team 😀

    You should really let people know what company you represent, we might give you a job or buy you out, its obvious the competition is getting to you

    As regards our backup network, we are as transparent were we are located as our pricing is !

    You can review it on our website
    http://www.databackup.ie/?view=ourbackupnetwork

    In regards to Webworld we have been doing business with them years, we love them, they have been chosen by many other of the key backup providers aswell as a co-location provider.

    Web World offer various levels of redundancy , if you would like to arrange a tour with me Yvonne let me know

    Tom from DataBackup.ie

    July 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm


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