Unlimited online storage? Voilà!

The internet weather has been turning somewhat cloudy in recent years and by saying that I now don't mean to start another discussion about (important) Net neutrality here but rather to bring up the smooth transition to a trend of moving data to indefinite "shadowy" remote storage sometimes referred to as "The Cloud", the shape and volume of which is mostly determined by various storage providers, instead of keeping it safe and sound on "trustworthy" local data storage.

Chances are you are already entrusting this mystical cloud with your data by dropping it into the famous box, watching it skydive, uploading it with unseen simplicity or just backing it up securely with Mozy (ran out of metaphors on this one). The catch is, this fluffy "cloud" in reality consists of hardware that doesn't come in lite or free versions, thus inflicting these otherwise great services with individual usage caps on free accounts, usually set at around 2GB with the exception of SkyDrive which has some other disadvantages, though. Of course, obtaining additional on-line storage with a paid membership is a decent choice... Until you familiarize yourself with the idea propelling Wuala.

Update: Wuala announced in August 2015 that it will shut down the service on November 15, 2015.

Wuala takes a unique approach to secure online storage. After registering for a free account, you immediately get 1 free gigabyte of online storage managed through a convenient cross-platform client (JRE required). What? 1GB, are you kidding? Behold, this is merely the beginning. Obviously, if you are serious about full-scale online backup of the majority of your data or just need to store/share large files in a long-term fashion, 2 gigs just won't cut it and Wuala's 1GB won't even cut through half. That is, unless you buy additional storage at competitive rates or, even better, begin trading your local diskspace for remote space.

Wuala doesn't stop at simply storing user data in encrypted form on their back-bone servers. It boosts its overall accessibility, speed and reliability ahead of the competition using deliberate redundancy - by spreading encrypted chunks of received files over a vast network of peers who decided to become "pro" members merely by giving up an unused portion of their hard drive in exchange for secure online storage accessible from anywhere and due to the very nature of the system expandable to sizes never seen before with free accounts.

Read also:  Find out if your VPN leaks your IP address

Who is eligible to participate in this storage-trading network you ask? Well, all you need is some spare space on your HDD, reliable internet connection and the ability to meet a requirement of staying on-line in the long term for at least 17% of the time. What if you fail to meet the last criteria later on? Don't worry. If your on-line presence drops, you won't be allowed to upload more until you match up again but you will NOT lose your data. Clearly, your disk space is of little use if it cannot be accessed at least now and then. Therefore, the calculation determining the amount of online space you receive in exchange for your local space takes into account two factors: amount of shared space and your online presence. Simple math tells us a realistic rate to expect would be somewhere between 170MB and 700MB for 1GB of your harddisk space, which is not bad, provided you have some spare gigabytes to pass around. I, for instance, have been online for about 35% of the time (and rising) since signing up a few days ago, thus earning a total of 8GB online so far for the 20GBs shared with the world. With my 0.5TB HDD half-empty, I'm aiming for about 100GB of online space in the future... Oh, did I mention Wuala keeps old file versions and lets you share uploaded files, create public groups or set up folders on your computer to be synced online regularly?

To make myself clear, I still don't put full trust in the "The Cloud" with my data. I always use it to either mirror my data to remote storage for backup purposes or upload files of less importance with the mere intention of sharing/accessing them online. If your data is really valuable to you, never rely solely on remote storage, no matter how extremely safe and secure it allegedly is.



Got some spare gigabytes to share with the internets? Don't hesitate to join in! Got more questions about security, privacy and sharing options? Check out the extensive FAQ.

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Responses to Unlimited online storage? Voilà!

  1. kingpin April 21, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Tobey
    Hey I don't trust online bachups either,who whether it really secured and safe or not.Better to stick with Backup4all,Handy Backup,Altaro oops,Attix5 or Acronis,etc on your system:)

    • Tobey April 21, 2010 at 11:00 am #

      Hehe, yeah kingpin, this has been my atittude for a long time as well, I had used one of our computers at home for scheduled backups over LAN using SyncBack and later on ComodoBackup but I got really confused about their inability to do proper incremental/differential backups like for instance Rsync on *nix. Then when I stumbled upon Wuala, I couldn't resist transfering my files over there solely for the purpose of backing up my data rather than removing them from my PC altogether. So far, I didn't regret it for a second, the service and the client are great (maybe except the necessity to have JRE installed) and I'm already at 11 gigs of online storage now, which is great, considering it's free and gives me auto backup and file versioning. I've really liked using Wuala and hope they'll be able to maintain it running the way it has.

  2. Jake Whistle April 21, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Checked it out - seems like a good solution for non-critical files.

  3. Nebulus April 21, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    So not only I will keep my files somewhere online, I have to "donate" a part of my HDD as well? LOL, no thanks.

    • Tobey April 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm #

      Kinda missing the point, aren't we...

    • Duckeenie April 22, 2010 at 12:36 am #

      It doesn't stop there you have to give up some bandwidth too!

  4. Mike April 21, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    The biggest problem I have with the "cloud" is that it is no more
    ethereal than a server or a hard drive. The perceptions, to listen
    to the usage and discussions of the "cloud" is that it is this other
    worldly location at which data is stored or accessed. What it is
    in reality is a significant chunk of real estate with a significant
    investment in architecture and manpower to ensure ongoing maintenance and thereby continuity of data. Behind Google,
    Yahoo, Microsoft or (name the most notable "cloud" computing
    entity you can think of) and somewhere there is a very real significant
    chunk of real estate with some heavy duty hardware and some
    heavy duty technical geeks working overtime to ensure data
    integrity.

    Promises are being made (think Iron Mountain on steroids) of integrity and stability. Do we really know what the impact is,
    environmental, societal, cultural of such a massive shift of data
    away from the "local" PC? I haven't seen any deep discussions
    on the subject. I'm guessing it's for much the same reasons
    Toyota, GM, Ford, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others aren't
    inviting the casual user into their research and development
    labs.

    Just as I'm not willing to trust government on say so alone, neither
    am I willing to hand over the keys to the kingdom to the "cloud" no matter how much the hype, how well guarded the secrets. For me
    there's too little known and too much "just trust us" in the whole
    process.

    "Question Authority" still has it's place in the age of 24/7/365 anywhere / anytime connectivity - with Google as well as the Government.

  5. Jojo April 21, 2010 at 8:01 pm #

    I'm uncomfortable enough as it is with putting my data somewhere out in the "cloud", let alone making my PC storage part of the cloud for storage by others. Wuala is not something I would ever be interested in!
    ==================
    Many managers see cloud computing as risky business
    Joab Jackson, IDG News Service\New York Bureau
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    (04-07) 08:16 PDT -- Despite the hoopla surrounding cloud computing, almost half of U.S. IT managers are still wary of using cloud computing services within their own operations, according to the results of a survey released Wednesday by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

    In the ISACA IT Risk/Reward Barometer, an online survey that attracted 1,809 responses from ISACA members, 45 percent of the participants indicated that the risks of cloud computing outweigh the benefits.

    Moreover, only 10 percent of the respondents planned to use cloud computing for mission critical services, and 26 percent had no plans to use cloud computing in any form whatsoever.

    ...

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/04/07/urnidgns002570F3005978D8002576FE004BD92D.DTL

    • Thomas April 26, 2010 at 10:29 am #

      @Jojo: we encrypt all data before it leaves your computer (in fact, we don't even know your password, so you had better not forget it). We have no idea what's in your files. You'll have to trust us on that, but consider this: we have nothing to gain by knowing the content of your files. It even makes us less vulnerable to hacking: if someone hacks our servers (heaven forbid), all they'll find is chunks of encrypted data.

  6. Tobey April 22, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Gosh, people, you may be right and all but this article was primarily focused on regular users who want to have their usually not-so-important data stored somewhere in case their PC breaks down. It wasn't meant for the corporate audience at all and I don't have much to say about corporate outsourcing and stuff at all. I just don't see how backing up huge amounts of non-personal data to the cloud could do harm to anyone. Unless the data is somehow personally sensitive or highly confidential, what's the risk involved? In the worst case scenario, you lose your whole backup and have to find a replacement backup solution.

  7. Ed April 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm #

    I'm curious, how would we be able to have access to our data 100% of the time if the users that make up the "cloud" are only required to be online a minimum of 17% of the time.

    Am I missing something here?

    • Tobey April 22, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

      Redundancy. Algorithms. Ugly math... :-)

  8. theWiredBuddha March 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    the Cloud.. yes, some ethereal, intangible place we store files. do I feel 100% secure in storing my important data elsewhere? not sure, let me get back to you on that one.
    nonetheless, I use the Cloud for storage of non-critical files mostly, using the Cloud as a redundant backup.
    I recently posted an article on my website about my thoughts on cloud and media storage.
    as the old saying goes: if it's important, back it up. if it's really important, back it up twice.

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