Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Online File Storage

I am glad this is going to be a short week. The past couple of weeks have been a bit rough, due to a sinus infection which degenerated into a cold, of which I'm on the very tail end {knock wood}. Awhile ago I tried a saline nasal rinse similar to what Jerry Pournelle has written about, and found that it really helped my allergies by flushing irritants out of my sinuses. I used it after getting the sinus infection and I'm pretty sure that it shortened the duration and helped me avoid the need to take antibiotics. Flushing out the bacteria-laden snot instead of letting it fester up there in my head worked.

At work I've been evaluating a few different online storage services. I have a dot mac account and I've been using it as a yardstick for comparison purposes. I've found that as long as I have a good fat pipe, accessing files remotely over the Internet using WebDAV can be made similar to accessing them via a LAN or a VPN. For example, dot mac includes iDisk, which I primarily access as just another disk in the Finder. (It's also accessible via a Win32 client from Apple or through a browser, but with limited functionality) Some of the services I'm looking at offer similar functionality for Windows, Mac, and Linux boxen.

Dot mac and one of the other services allow me to create a locally cached copy of the online "drive," which allows me to access those files offline. Then, when I'm reconnected, the cached and online copies automatically sync.

Windows XP includes a similar feature called Offline Folders but in my experience, it sucks. On every machine that I've used it I always get errors and sync failures. And that's on a 100BaseT LAN. Forget about using it over a VPN.

The online storage services also allow you to share files, e.g., by allowing other users to open your online folder or you can email someone a link to a specific file.

I'd like to see this sort of thing become more popular because it could take a major load off of mail servers, which are probably the primary way people transfer files across the Internet nowadays. Email was never intended for this and while it works -- mostly -- it still results in inefficiencies. Shared online folders, if impelemented securely, will be a better solution with the ever increasing adoption of broadband Internet access.

If I don't post again before Thursday, have a happy Thanksgiving.

1 comment:

Sam said...

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