Online Storage Solutions

I am a big fan of backups ever since my office building had a fire one afternoon. An electrical short in the office directly below mine caused the fire, and I fortunately wasn’t there when the fire started – I had left the office to run an errand. But when I came back and saw the fire engines circled around my office building, my heart skipped a beat. Yes, I had done plenty of backups of my data, indeed just that morning I had made one. And my backup was sitting right next to the computer on my desk! A lot of good that was going to do me now, to be sure. Fortunately, nothing in my office was harmed, and I learned a valuable lesson.

The first rule of backups: make a habit of taking them to another location.

With the advances of broadband and better Web services technologies, you now have a lot of different choices when it comes to storing your data offsite. Depending on how much money you want to spend, you can accomplish this with pennies, a few or hundreds of dollars. Let’s start with the pennies first.

The simplest strategy is to burn CDs or DVDs with your data, and take them somewhere else on a regular basis. When you have accumulated a bunch of discs, though, this gets somewhat difficult to manage. One of my readers has a great take on this: “You can use my rule of thumb: Whenever you visit your mom, take a new backup and keep it at her house. If she nags you about not seeing her often enough, it means your backup is not
up-to-date!”

Next up in the cost curve is using one of the resellers of Amazon’s S3 storage API. The two services that I tried are ElephantDrive.com and JungleDisk.com. They use small applications that communicate with Amazon’s storage repository. They both encrypt and then move your data up into cyberspace. The downside is that Jungle doesn’t currently offer synchronization with your data on your hard disk, so you have to do some work to manage the updates on your own — although they have promised to be working on a solution. They are also fairly slow at sending the files up to Amazon — 150 MB took 45 minutes for one service, and two hours for the other.

The two Amazon services are dirt cheap — you will be hard pressed to spend more than $10 a year for 2 GB of data. Amazon has published their storage API and we can expect more players to enter this space. Jungle handles both Macs and Windows, while Elephant is Windows-only. Both are small start-ups, which may be an issue because who knows how long they will be around. I want to save my data someplace and then the company disappears. On the other hand, “We have released all our source code on how we do the encryption and how we store the information on S3,” says Jungle Dave Wright, the head guy there. “Users can feel confident that there are other tools where they can get copies of their data off of S3.” And at these prices this can be just one of many places that holds your data.

A better solution on the synchronization scene is from FolderShare.com, which used to be owned by Iomega but is now part of the Redmond Borg. You install the software on two PCs, and they work on both Mac and Windows. Any files in a specific directory that you designate that gets saved on one gets copied to the other. It is presently free, too.

One company that has been around for a while in this space is MyDocsOnline.com. They offer a confusing array of pricing plans, but to use their backup service you get 5 GB for about $100/year. They are competing with Xdrive, which is owned now by AOL and will be offering 4 GB for free starting next month. Another company here in the mid-price bracket is Box.net, who offers 4 GB for about $60/year. Some other solutions offered by my readers include Datadepositbox.com, carbonite.com, and LogMeIn. These are all-Windows solutions as far as I know at present.

I have been using MyDocs for years, and like the system. Uploads are fast, and they also support WebDAV, which makes it easier to mount the server on your desktop and save files to it. Synchronization isn’t as much of an issue if you can just delete and replace the entire data store with a clean set of files, which is what I do.

At the top end of the market are companies like eVault and Iron Mountain that offer online storage for larger enterprises. These typically start around $100 a month for 5GB of storage. Apple also has its .Mac offering too. It costs $200 a year for 4 GB of storage.

No matter which service you use, start to do something today about saving offsite copies of your data. Don’t wait for a fire or other disaster to get going on this.

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13 thoughts on “Online Storage Solutions

  1. Hi David, that was a nice post. But I wonder why you have not mentioned IBackup for Windows, which has been the best online backup and storage solution I have seen.

    There are a slew of `free online storage services’ offering huge amounts of space to store everything from mp3s to videos. But the real story is something different. Many of them are just beta versions and their upload speeds are woefully slow. Some of them even have limits on file download size. Added to all this is the looming threat that one fine morning the backed up data will no longer be there or you will have to pay for the services, which were free earlier.

    But IBackup for Windows is different in its own way. I think I would not have become their subscriber, had I not tried their free trial. Even with their free trial you can try most of their options like snapshots and backing up open files. This application does backups and restores very fast and most of the operations you do are not at all troublesome. IBackup for Windows functions like a virtual storage drive accessible from anywhere in the world through the Internet.

    You can also try IDrive, another cool application from the IBackup stable. IDrive has mapped my online account as a local drive on to my computer. I find it very easy to move my music and video files into my IBackup account with just a few clicks. You can play the multimedia files instantaneously in the favorite media player of your choice with IDrive Multimedia .

    With Web-Manager you can do a lot like create folders, upload, webload files, rename, move, delete and share files or folders with others for collaborative access. You can also Private Share’ feature allows an IBackup user to instantly share data with another IBackup user. Also view the data another user has privately shared with you. You can disable the `Private Share’ feature any time. Need anything more?

  2. A very cool feature that we find useful, in addition to basic online storage and file sharing, is “push sharing.” Many sites let you make a file available to another user, who can then download it to their computer. But there is only site I have seen that let’s me upload a file (for example, a large video file) and then ‘push share’ the content to other accounts. This saves the other users from having to upload / download the content to have it in their accounts. Also, they can immediately begin streaming the content. This ‘push share’ capability is found on http://www.MyOtherDrive.com.

  3. Onlinestoragesolution.com is the best I have found. They offer everything webdav, ftp, rsync, and an online file manager. Best of all they are only $19 per year for unlimited space and I uploaded 400 Gigs with no problems.

    • I am constantly having problem uploading a file of 1.968 gb. FTP site not supporting resumption. Netdrive keeps failing also. Do they have an untold file limit? What’s the file size you usually upload? I have seen many people complaining their no response to emails asking for help.

    • IIC Online Storage Solution is a bust. I had nothing but problems uploading, couldn’t log in remotely as promised and now can’t seem to contact Anyone is Customer Service. Emailed them several times, even called them and stayed on hold for over an hour before I simply hung up.

      Consumer Alert, this service is a scam.

  4. Online Storage Solution has been the most horrifying Storage Solution EVER. The service is just terrible.

    Well, I’m here to tell what might happen to you if you go ahead and sign up with Online Storage Solution thinking you’re getting a good deal. Take my advice, do not register for this service. You’ll end up regretting it forever.

    When I initially signed up for Online Storage Solution, I was satisfied with the service despite the numerous outages when you can’t access data at all, upload errors etc. But then I was happy that the service was very cheap and I’m getting a good deal for my money.
    There was lots of downtime, making it difficult to access your files at all times. They would keep on upgrading to new servers and plan to abandon the old servers, so you, as the customer, would have to follow up and push the ‘customer support’ to get you onto a new server or else you’d have problems. Lots of times, their disk gets full and you will need to contact support to reallocate the storage so you can continue uploading; that was a real pain while uploading lots of data. Also their software had lots of problems, I don’t blame Online Storage Solution for that, because its not theirs, but then that is what they recommended and it never could finish a backup for me. Even after countless emails to support, I could never backup my computer through rsync. Well, I resorted to FTP and manually did everything.

    Oh yeah, the ‘customer support’ which they don’t outsource (as said on their website) is made of one person named Stephen Bennet. Many people here say Online Storage Solution is run from a garage, while, it might sound very stupid; trust me, once you become a member of Online Storage Solution you’ll know why people say that.
    You have to wait for more than 25 minutes every time to reach a guy who is rude and wants to get rid of you as soon as possible. I’ll come to that later.
    The support will rarely respond to you. You’ll have to send countless emails and you’ll be lost in tracking and keeping up with the complaint for so long, you’ll realize you’d have saved more time and effort by paying a little more to another provider.

    Well I lived with all of this, I was still “Its alright, the service is cheap and does most of what it says”, until….
    ….I lost my files, more than 200 gigs of them, completely; they disappeared from my account.
    As I said Online Storage Solution keeps upgrading servers for which you have to keep contacting support to move you to a new one.
    I had my files copied to the new server with the files on the old server intact. I thought, “Well atleast I have my files on the old server”. But I realized I was wrong, new server and old server, ALL my files, every single one of them vanished, suspiciously.

    I filed a ticket late January and I’m still struggling with the support to get the files back, which is probably never going to happen. What I’ve gone through was a horrible experience, still horrible knowing that all the files I stored with them are gone forever; I trusted them and they lose every single file I stored with them. So much for the redundant storage (mentioned on their website). Its so redundant and reliable, that it managed to lose both my sets of backups at the same time!

    I’ve sent numerous emails, which don’t usually get responded to, for which I had to call them up continuously and listen to their hold music for more than 25 minutes every time. I’ve attached the ticket history. The Steve guy (One man tech support) assured me TWENTY TWO TIMES that my files would be restored. That never happened.

    Yesterday, I had the worst experience ever. Now instead of the Steve guy replying to my ticket and giving me false answers. He said Chris, the owner, was working on this issue. He asked me to get him on an extension, which I could not reach. After another 30 minutes of waiting on phone and getting to talk to Steve, he THEN tells me that he is on a conference call and would call me up as soon as he’s done in another 30 minutes. Yeah, if Chris or Steve would call me back, pigs would fly that instant. Expecting their tech support to call you back is like expecting the president to have coffee with you for breakfast at your house.

    I called up in a half hour because I didn’t receive a call nor could I reach Chris, Steve said he was still on the conference call with his “provider” and I’d have to wait FOUR MORE HOURS to get him (which didn’t happen, and a call for four hours??). I exclaimed that it was too long and that they’ve been putting me off for a long time, not hours, not days, not weeks, MONTHS! The guy got angry and told me that they’re trying to recover the hard drives (so much for their secure storage). I told him that you’ve been saying that for the past two months (22 times!) He gets more angry and literally screams at me insultingly “Have you been listening to me? I said it’ll take 10-15 days.” Dude you’ve said that TWENTY TWO times and it never happened. He shouts at me like I work for him and he’s paying me. I paid for my service and he’s the one scolding me for losing my files.
    Moreover, he talks like losing your files isn’t a big deal, like its routine and normal.

    He told me that he’ll call me back, again never did, I tried calling after four hours. And guess what? Tech support closes even before their normal working hours (which are short themselves for a support department).

    That’s it, I cant even reach them till Monday. Their great tech support is only Monday to Friday. If you have a problem or the server goes down Friday Night. Good luck, not gonna get fixed till Monday.

    Bottom line:
    Worst service ever.
    Buy this service, not only if you have money to waste but also lots and lots of precious time and of course, tolerance to tech support shouting insultingly at you.
    And of course, lots and lots of patience.
    Pay and go through what I’ve experienced and get severely ripped off, even after getting warned.

    This service is unethical, unprofessional and unreliable. JUST NOT WORTH THE TIME, MONEY, PATIENCE and EFFORT.

    Again trust me, NOT WORTH IT.

    • Yep – all true. First, there is no ticket system. It’s just an email address. And you do get replied – sometimes – by Steve. Short and snappy and mostly useless. I have been unable to see anyfile on my space for over a week. I send an email a day asking where my files are and why, directories simply disappear and do not show up under my FTP. No answer – or only very brief “it should work now” (it doesn’t).

      At $2 per month it might seem like a bargain, but it’s not not not.

    • This has been my experience also with Online Storage Solutions, from their “Downtown Oklahoma City” offices. All my files gone. 2 Terabytes and MONTHS of upload time. TWICE! OLS15 and OLS18.
      I just hope the files truly are gone. At this point I want to make sure they’re all deleted and stay away from this company. I’m honestly wondering if they set up this service to get access to people’s data.
      AND I just received a one line response e-mail from Stephen Bennet from a GMAIL account! Yes, I”m on gmail but I’m not an official company, either.

  5. PLEASE READ IF YOU ARE EVEN THINKING ABOUT USING ONLINESTORAGESOLUTION.COM.

    I agree completely!

    I am a customer of OnlineStorageSolution.com. I am very much regretting that I have ever used them. I completely have the same experience as many of your here. Don’t get baited in by the “cheap” price – it will end up costing you. I have lost my access to my data for a good 4 months now – maybe even more, I totally lost track because it has been so long. I have been trying to get them to get it back online with absolute ZERO success. My personal videos and pictures are on there, which I may never see again. Do you know how much time I have wasted just trying to call their support, hours and hours waiting on hold only to have the line hang up after 20 to 30 minutes of waiting. In fact, I have even gotten one of their support guys to hang up in my face as well! or do one of these “Oh, Bill is working on that, he’s not here, call back in 10 minutes” and then hangs up or “Oh, Bill is working on that, let me transfer you to him” and then click – the phone hangs up. And why do I waste time calling when I can email them you might ask. That’s because their email is useless. My numerous emails go into a blackhole – if you get a response at all, it will be lies like “oh, you will have everything back up for you by tomorrow” and then I still have the same issue months later without getting anywhere closer to getting access to my data!

    And by the way, don’t trust any of the positive comments by “Beth” or anybody else really. Beth is wife of the owner of the OnlineStorageSolution.com and Chris is the Owner/Manager.

    IF YOU HAVE A SIMILAR BAD EXPERIENCE, LET THE WORLD HEAR FROM YOU. WRITE A COMMENT HERE. Let’s do some good so others will not be ripped off by these guys.

  6. My experience with ONLINESTORAGESOLUTION.COM.:

    It could be a bargain if the were offering a normal sync software like livedrive does.
    I tried it for 5 days and asked my money back. Which went ok.
    The problem with this company is that they offer storage on a GNU kind of bases.
    As cheap as possible. No own development.
    Result: for backup they use rsync… works nice between 2 Unix systems but you need to be a techy to set it up. Net drive using ftp in the background. Asking for problems. Netdrive using webdav …..did’t get it working.
    Cyberduck: nice syching gnu solution but: no scheduler or live sync.

    Bottom line: get livedrive…cost more but you are shure it is working.

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