Virtual Storage and Network Backup – Review
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.
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 aÂ 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.
Next week, Network backup vendors.