Free Online Storage From Streamload, Omidrive, Box.net and Lifehack
Online storage promises to make data available practically anywhere, on any platform or device. The idea is that come hell or high water, you won't have to worry about things like hard drive failure or data corruption. Even if your computer is stolen or your house floods or catches fire, your data is safely stored offsite.
But there are many things to look out for when you’re choosing an online storage site. Streamload offers a whopping 25GB of free storage. The catch is if you want to download more than 100MB each month, you have to upgrade to a paid account. Omnidrive's Jessica corrects our earlier impression (see comment below) and says the company's free package includes: 1GB of storage, 5GB of bandwidth and the file size is unlimited and the API access is included. Paid packages offering more services are available, as well Box.net gives you one free gigabyte that can be upgraded to 5GB for $4.99/month. As for totally free sites, Lifehack lists more than 90 online storage services. But there are a few things to look out for. Heed the following hints before you begin backing up:
1. Security - A word to the wise if you’re concerned about privacy: encrypt data before it leaves your hard drive. There are a myriad of free programs out there that can help you do this. Some storage providers even have their own encryption.
2. Reliability - Don't expect corporate-style service-level agreements with "five nines" availability clauses. Some services may claim high uptime, but most don't provide guarantees for availability, citing reasons like inconsistency in DSL and cable network connectivity. If you can't get access to your data for whatever reason, you don't have much recourse against the company.
3. Bandwidth - We’re talking about yours, not theirs. With a typical 768Kbps upstream DSL connection, regularly backing up gigabytes of digital media would take an absurdly long time. While fast throughput to the home is out there and even faster speeds are on the horizon, that speed comes at a price. For now, online storage is only practical for regular backup of vital but less space-intensive data such as documents, email, and photos.
HINT: Lifehack’s top remote storage site is Mozy Remote Backup which provides 2GB of free backup space. Best of all, you can access an encryption key for your account for added security.