Personal online storage & backups

A couple of years ago I participated in the evaluation of a start up proposition for an online backup service. Targetted primarily at individuals and SMEs it aimed to provide remote storage and a backup application that would run in the background passing deltas of data. In addition, there was to be a web front end to enable remote access of data as well as restore facilities.

We believed a market existed for online backup services on several grounds
- most people don't take backups frequently [too much hassle and overconfidence] thereby leaving themselves exposed, and when they do they have to proactively do it
- most backups are not stored offsite, nor are they securely stored
- personal and irreplaceable data is increasing [photos, music, email]. Whilst people will increasingly use online services such as Flickr or web mail, these represent disperate islands of data and not ideal from which to recover data. More importantly, because it's irrecoverable, fear about loss of personal data will increase

To be successful, we felt the service had to
- be very cheap, say £5 per month for up to 20gb, to be attractive to the consumer. Unless they've had a crash, most people don't realise the cost of recovery services [£600 approx for an average hard drive].
- have a big brand(s) fronting it. Putting your personal data with a third party requires a high degree of trust so it needed to be someone like a Virgin or Tesco
- be easy to install and operate

At the time, whilst the technical solution was feasible, the price level proved too great a challenge.

How quickly times change. With Amazon S3 blazing a trail, online storage costs are plummeting. Off the back of this, nimble start-ups are offering the apps that will undertake the backups, sometimes using Amazon's storage facilities.

One example is Elephant Drive which is in beta presently and is therefore free at the moment - I've just signed up for a trial so I'll report back. Another is Jungle Disk which provides a the price comparison of legacy providers v Amazon. Thanks to Read/Write Web for spotting these two. Another is which is more expensive.

This is going to be a big growth space, particularly with the presence of big name players acting as storage host.

posted by John Wilson @ 5:44 PM Permanent Link newsvine reddit


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