Help me find the best online storage solution for my needs.
March 20, 2008 11:07 PM   Subscribe

I need a reliable service that is either free, or low, cost for my research files. What is the best option?

My needs are fairly simple.

1. A reliable service that likely won't disappear, and one that doesn't require a yearly contract. Case in point (regarding yearly services, not storage).

2. Free or inexpensive.

3. Easy to use.

4. Availability to use on more than one computer.

I need to store only about 1 or 2 GB of very important research, which must be available to me at any time in the future, on any computer. I don't anticipate a size larger than 2 GB, but I never say never. I also might later decide to store more (such as media files), but that's really low on the priority list. If this computer went out right this very minute, the only serious lament I would have - outside of the general annoyance and cost of the computer itself - would be the loss of my research. It just cannot be replicated.

I read this thread, and was a bit vexed with the naive solution of having paper back ups of text files at home. My house was damaged in Katrina, so none of those are an option to rely on in the least. Besides, these files aren't text documents anyway; they're associated with several applications.

Considering my needs, I Googled it and found that I really like Amazon S3. The downfall on that is the usability, or #3 above. I'm not a developer and I've searched high and low but I cannot find a free, user friendly, application that also works well with it. A previous MeFi comment suggested JungleDisk as a 'free' application but when I actually went to the site, I found that it now costs $20. Also here at MeFi I read about BucketExplorer and just like JD, I found that this one was not only not free, but it was even more at $30. Not to mention, it sounds like you can only use it on one computer, which isn't an option for me.

Is there not another decent alternative? I really do not want to have to pay for software as the software cost outweighs the cost of S3, or at least in my small little case.

I'm aware of (I've already filled that one up to capacity), Xdrive (filled that one too), and Carbonite (after reading this review I elected to skip that one altogether).

So what suggestions do you have? Is there an easy way to use S3? Or is there a better site/solution out there that I'm not familiar with?

If it matters, I have one desktop with Windows Vista, and one desktop and one laptop with Windows XP.
posted by magnoliasouth to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Not to be snarky, but if it's incredibly important and cannot be replicated, isn't it at least worth $20?

Is Gmailing yourself files bad?
posted by unexpected at 11:24 PM on March 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: You have a point about the $20, but why pay if there is another solution for free? That's the main reason for this post after all.

No, I can't Gmail the files. For some reason Gmail says it's a file not allowed. As I mentioned, they're associated with applications. It must have something to do with an extension within the zip file, otherwise I can't imagine why Gmail won't allow it.
posted by magnoliasouth at 11:30 PM on March 20, 2008

You can bypass Gmail's amazing zip file security just by renaming to before attaching it.

Doing large attachments in Gmail also works better if your initial connection to Gmail is via rather than any of the http (non-secured) alternatives.
posted by flabdablet at 12:51 AM on March 21, 2008

Oh, and as far as I know, Jungle Disk is a one-time $20 that lets you install an unlimited number of copies on an unlimited number of computers for an unlimited amount of time. That definitely counts as "inexpensive" in my world.
posted by flabdablet at 12:54 AM on March 21, 2008

There's GmailFS as well. But I'd be happier having an actual monetary relationship with my backup provider.
posted by flabdablet at 12:56 AM on March 21, 2008

Best answer: I recently stumbled upon FileDropper, a free file upload site with a simple Imageshack-style interface. It stores up to 5GB at a permanent URL, and requires no registration.

Speeds may be a little slow temporarily, though, as the site was linked to recently on Digg.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:16 AM on March 21, 2008

there is an s3 extension available for firefox that is free. works quite well too. otherwise mozybackup?
posted by spyke23 at 7:54 AM on March 21, 2008

posted by spyke23 at 7:57 AM on March 21, 2008

Best answer: firefox plug in
posted by spyke23 at 7:59 AM on March 21, 2008

JungleDisk uses Amazon S3. Super cheap.
posted by dudeman at 8:19 AM on March 21, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone who offered advice. On the subject of GmailFS or any other GDrive type option. It breaks TOS and accounts have been suspended over it. No thanks to that one. As I've mentioned, I need this to be available to me later and reliable. Obviously that doesn't win on that point.

The Firefox plugin is really cool, but the developer makes it clear (s)he may not continue it. So that's out, but is noted for something that would work. Perhaps for other files, I could use it.

kalessin: WOW! You really covered all the bases. The problem with some of those are of course the fact that local copies, meaning within a local perimeter (not a computer term), is that I live in an area that even insurance will no longer cover. This screams volumes about the potential to lose everything, even in a safe deposit box. As far as a thumb drive, that too could be damaged or disappear. This is why I was looking for online solutions.

flabdablet: Extension renaming is an interesting solution, but for the other one I already use https.

Well, it's sad to say but it looks like the best way to go about it is to just pay for JungleDisk, which I am terribly disappointed about. I mean, I can browse the web with an amazing browser for FREE. I don't like that someone is cashing in on another's genius and service. I really hope someone would create a good open source solution and share it for free. The JungleDisk ideology is kind of against my personal beliefs. Alas though, it is the only serious alternative.
posted by magnoliasouth at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks kalessin! I'm really not concerned so much with encryption, except that I don't want my data damaged. It's research that I'm willing to share, I just need a place to put it is all. :)
posted by magnoliasouth at 9:21 AM on March 29, 2008

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