Subject: General Tech | October 30, 2014 - 07:04 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: online storage, encryption, cloud storage, bitcasa
Bitcasa recently announced that, as of November 15, 2014, the company is discontinuing its "Infinite Drive" and will no longer be offering unlimited cloud storage space. The company made its debut at the start of last year with an infinite storage product (Amazon S3 backend with custom applications and client side AES-256 convergent encryption). Since then, the company has grown to store more than 40 Petabytes of user data. Unfortunately, the unlimited storage space model was not sustainable despite heavily increased pricing several months ago.
According to Bitcasa, less than 0.5% of users stored more than 1TB while 0.1% of users used more than 10TB. The alleged lack of demand coupled with violations of the company's Acceptable Use Policy were the final nails in the infinite storage coffin.
There is a bright side to the announcement, however. Bitcasa has re-engineered the storage backend and is promising faster uploading, downloading, and streaming (over the web interface) of files. Users wishing to stick with Bitcasa will need to transfer files over to the new storage system by the November 15, 2014 deadline. After the deadline, all files that have not been transferred or downloaded will be deleted permanently.
Bitcasa has put together a FAQ that explains the situation and how it will affect each of the account tiers on their website.
Essentially, Bitcasa is shuttering the infinite storage tier completely. Users storing 10TB or less will be allowed to move to the Premium or Pro tiers. The Premium tier remains the same as the old plan at $10 per month for 1TB of storage. The Pro tier has been changed from 5TB for $49 per month to 10TB for $99 per month. Users storing over 10TB will need to reduce their stored files to fit within at most 10TB of space. Of course, users are not required to stay and are free to download their files and move to an alternative service. Finally, the free storage tier has been cut from 10GB to 5GB going forward.
Any existing accounts (so long as they within the lower storage allotments) will be grandfathered in (including pricing on paid tiers) and any"extra" storage space gathered from referrals will remain in effect.
|New Plans||Old Plans|
|Storage Tier||Storage Space||Pricing||Storage Space||
|Premium||1TB||$10/month ($99/year)||1TB||$10/month ($99/year)|
|Infinite||n/a||No longer offered||Unlimited||$99/month ($999/year)|
There are some snags in the transfer process to be aware of though. Past version history on files will not be preserved post transfer and any mirrored folders will have to be recreated. It is possible to move the mirrored folders after the transfer if you do not have access to the original PC(s), but you will have to recreate the mirrors using the applications when you want to keep them in sync again.
Also, Bitcasa notes that iTunes payments for Bitcasa storage will no longer be accepted and Facebook and Twitter logins will not be allowed (you will create new a new login during the transfer process). Finally, streaming to Plex is not currently working with the new storage system, but a fix is being worked on.
Upon receiving the email from Bitcasa yesterday, I logged in and completed the transfer. The process took about five minutes (including downloading my mirrored folders I no longer had access to on my home PC). My free account is grandfathered into the 10GB limit. When the service first came out, I tried it out for awhile and it was decent. At one point I even considered moving to the paid infinite tier, but at the new prices the amount of storage is no longer economical for personal use (>1TB). It is notable that Microsoft started offering unlimited (used to be 1TB) storage to Office 365 subscribers this week, and I wonder how long that will last and if they will run into many of the same problems Bitcasa did.
What do you think about this announcement? Will unlimited storage always be too good to be true (ie an unsustainable business model).
Introduction and Packaging
Late last year, Western Digital launched their My Cloud series, first with a single-drive My Cloud, and immediately followed up with a beefier small-office product, the 4-drive My Cloud EX4. Then earlier this year, they filled My Cloud gap (so to speak), with a 2-drive variant of the EX4 - the My Cloud EX2. As the EX2 was more of a business type of NAS, it commanded a bit of a price premium as compared to competing 2-bay NAS devices. The logical solution is was for WD to expand the standard My Cloud lineup upward by adding a 2-bay device to their existing consumer line.
The My Cloud Mirror is very similar to the My Cloud EX2. You get the bulk of the same features as compared with the EX2, but with some of the more workstation / enterprise features removed. Here's a couple of slides to help explain those differences:
Packaging is simple, with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.
The N2310 is a budget dual-bay NAS from Thecus and an interesting product beyond the low cost for this category, boasting a number of features that help set it apart.
Apart from the primary role of a network attached storage (NAS) device - you know, storage - there are some interesting things a piece of hardware like the N2310 can do. This inexpensive NAS is actually a server, too, so beyond storing up to 8TB of data it’s powerful enough to replace a dedicated PC for certain tasks - the kind of tasks that some of us leave a PC running 24/7 to accomplish.
In this review we’ll take a look at some of the functionality that helps set the N2310 apart, as well as the kind of real-world performance you might expect to see.
It’s All About the Gigabytes
There are more reasons now than ever before for large storage options. Even though SSD’s are at their lowest prices ever most of us still need to supplement a fast boot drive with some traditional spinning disks. Just think about what accumulates in an average year on your PC… photos, music, videos, program backups and images, you name it. All those GB’s have to go somewhere, and there are obviously internal and external hard drives to share the load. However, regardless of the local storage option you might chose, it’s not always so convenient to actually access this stuff again. Clearly, the easier it is to access your files, the better - and not just from one device. So, having centralized storage is a great idea, right?
Between computers, tablets, and of course our phones, there are generally quite a few connected devices in the average technology-inclined home. And while every device mentioned can connect to the internet - and cloud storage has become very popular - there's still something to be said for local content management. Beyond the convenience of sharing sometimes massive amounts of data easily at home, another benefit of always-on storage is backup. Ideally, every computer in the home would be backed up locally as well as the cloud, and a great way to take care of the local side of backup is with a NAS. Setting one up is very easy these days, with a growing number of affordable options from various vendors.
Thecus makes an interesting case for a budget NAS with the N2310. For a comparison, Allyn recently looked at Western Digital’s My Cloud EX2 network drive, and this is a highly polished all-in-one solution is now selling for about $199 (without drives). The Thecus N2310 is less expensive at $149, and both offer two 3.5” drive bays. (The My Cloud is also offered pre-populated with drives providing up to 8TB of storage.) These “diskless” enclosures present a good opportunity to save some money up front, and whether you choose to run on two drives you happened to have around the house or office, or if you want to go out and grab a couple of Western Digital 4TB Red drives, they can accommodate your situation.
Let’s take a look at the Thecus N2310.
Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2014 - 06:40 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: subscription, skydrive, onedrive, microsoft, cloud storage
Today, Microsoft has announced changes to their OneDrive for Business storage solution. A regular, free OneDrive account comes with 7 GB of storage. For $5 per user, per month, Microsoft added a 25 GB option. That 25 GB option is now a tiny bit larger: 1 TB. It will also be included in several Office subscriptions. The official announcement claims Office 365 ProPlus (formerly requiring a $1.50 per user per month upgrade) but that is, apparently, an incomplete list.
According to Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, any Office 365 plan which includes OneDrive for Business will be upgraded to 1 TB. I expect that Office 365 Pro Plus was mentioned in the press release because, as far as I can tell, it did not have OneDrive for Business, minus the aforementioned upgrade, until now. The rest of the options already had OneDrive for Business, just a much larger one now. I have compiled the relevant information in a table, below.
(Per User Per Month)
|OneDrive for Business (Standalone)||
($2.50/user until September)
|Office 365 ProPlus||$12||
(5 PCs or Macs)
(5 extra devices)
|Office 365 Small Business||$5||25||No|
|Office 365 Small Business Premium||$12.50||25||Yes|
|Office 365 Midsize Business||$15||300||Yes|
|Office 365 Enterprise E1||$8||Unlimited||No|
|Office 365 Enterprise E3||$20||Unlimited||Yes|
|Office 365 Enterprise E4||$22||Unlimited||Yes|
I must say that OneDrive is looking to have all of the features of Dropbox, at least the ones that I use, with significantly higher storage. While the 7 GB, free plan would probably be sufficient for my uses, a whole terabyte for a few dollars per month is definitely tempting if I had a reason to fill it. Not too long ago, I was paying $100 USD per year to Dropbox for 100 GB.
Note: The $5-per-user-per-month fee is the price after September. Until then, it is 50% off.
While not all of Microsoft's websites have been updated yet, the upgrade seems to take effect today. Check out OneDrive for Business, or one of the applicable Office plans, to see whether a terabyte of cloud storage is worth it for your needs.
Introduction and Packaging
Last October, Western Digital launched the My Cloud. This device was essentially a network connected version of their My Book line of external hard drives, but with Internet connectivity and apps that could reach back to the My Cloud even when you were away from home. One month later, WD launched the My Cloud EX4, a much beefier version which supported redundant arrays of 4 hard disks, redundant network and power, and a load of other features. There was a rather large gap in features between these two devices, as the only RAID option was more of a small business one. Today Western Digital closed that gap:
The My Cloud EX2 is essentially a My Cloud, but with dual drive bays, and a few additional features. Check out this projected trend below:
You can see there was a definite void in the 2-drive range that needed filling. With those two drives, you get a few options for redundancy or capacity+speed:
All standard RAID options for a 2-bay appliance are met here, though the vast majority of users should opt for the default RAID-1 mirrored set.
Packaging is simple here with only a power adapter, ethernet cable, and quick start guide needed.
Introduction and Features
Today Western Digital launched an important addition to their Personal Cloud Storage NAS family - the My Cloud EX4:
The My Cloud EX4 is Western Digital's answer to the increased demand for larger personal storage devices. When folks look for places to consolidate all of their bulk files, media, system backups, etc, they tend to extend past what is possible with a single hard drive. Here is Western Digital's projection on where personal storage is headed:
Where the My Cloud was a single drive solution, the My Cloud EX4 extends that capability to span up to four 3.5" drives. When it comes to devices that span across several drives, the number 4 is a bit of a sweet spot, as it enables several RAID configurations:
Everything but online capacity expansion (where the user can swap drives one at a time to a larger capacitiy) is suppoted. While WD has stated that feature will be available in a future update, I find it a bit risky to intentionally and repeatedly fail an array by pulling drives and forcing rebuilds. It just makes more sense to back up the data and re-create a fresh array with the new larger drives installed.
Ok, so we've got the groundwork down with a 4-bay NAS device. What remains to be seen is how Western Digital has implemented the feature set. There is a lot to get through here, so let's get to it.
Subject: Storage | October 2, 2013 - 10:42 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: western digital, wdc, WD, My Cloud, cloud storage, cloud
Imagine a device of a similar form factor to the Western Digital My Book, but instead of USB or Thunderbolt connectivity, you had a Gigabit Ethernet connection and a dual core CPU capable of handling large throughputs to your home network. Toss in some back end software and a handfull of remote access apps for various mobile devices, and you have what Western Digital calls the My Cloud:
The concept behind this is to have something similar to DropBox, with some differences. We will be diving further into the My Cloud shortly and will publish a full write-up for your viewing pleasure, but for now it seems to cover every base except for having your shared data available on mobile devices when those devices are offline (with the exception of cached copies, of course).
Full press blast afer the break:
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2013 - 03:19 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: insync, google drive, cloud storage, linux
Insyc has released a new release candidate for its Google Drive companion software that adds a few new features and bug fixes to the Linux client.
According to Insync, the 1.0 RC implements an improved syncing core build from scratch. It also allows users to selectively sync files and folders between local storage and their Google Drive cloud storage. It is no longer all or nothing, and you can choose to only store what you need locally rather than the entire document archive now. The release candidate software also allows customized account folders that can be renamed and moved to other locations on the drive. Symlink support, headless installs, and a CLI (command line interface) client are also included in the Insync 1.0 RC.
Insync has also made changes to the management user interface to make configuring the syncing options easier. Finally, Insync has also coded in a notification function that will notify users of changes to files on Google Drive which will be handy for collaborative documents and spreadsheets.
Insync has put together Debian packages for OSes like Ubuntu (Nautilus) and Mint (Cinnamon, MATE, Xfce desktop environments). Additionally, support for KDE and RPM packages is “coming soon.” You can grab the new beta 1.0 RC client here.
Insync Extending Support for 0.9.x Versions As it Improves The Upgrade Process To Its New 1.0 Client
Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2013 - 10:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: insync, google drive, file sync, cloud storage
Insync -- a service that extends the functionality of Google Drive and (among other things) allows users to sync Google Drive files (and documents) with their local computer for offline access -- has announced that it is extending support for version 0.9.x clients due to users expressing concerns over upgrade issues. The company released a new version 1.0 desktop client last month that added a number of new features, and the older clients were scheduled for end-of-life support.
Unfortunately, in order to upgrade to the new Insync 1.0, users needed to re-download all of their files stored on Google Drive. In an email to users, Insync sympathized with users' concerns over needing to re-download all files (especially those with extensive libraries of files and/or low data caps) of their files simply to upgrade the client-side application.
Insync has announced that it is working on a solution that will allow users to upgrade to the new (and improved) client without needing to re-download files from Google Drive, which is currently necessary to bring the client in sync with the cloud storage service. There is no ETA on the new client, but the company is reportedly hard at work on fixing the issue.
In the meantime, users can continue using their current desktop clients without worrying about file sync and tech support ending.
Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 05:17 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: torrent, sync, p2p, folder sync, file sync, cloud storage, bittorrent
BitTorrent took the wraps off of its Sync application yesterday. The new Sync service uses the BitTorrent P2P protocol to sync encrypted files across all of your devices. It is a service that I have been wanting to see for a long time now, in fact, which was why I was ecstatic when I found out about the BitTorrent Labs program. I managed to get into the private alpha a couple of weeks ago, and have been testing it ever since. Being in an alpha state, it is still a bit rough around the edges but it shows promise and while I encourage everyone to read the full review for more details, I think it is something I can at least recommend that you should try out!
BitTorrent Sync creates a folder in your home/user folder called SyncApp, and any files or folders that you place in that folder are synced across your devices. Additionally, you can choose existing folders to sync outside of the default SyncApp folder, which is really nice.
The encryption is a bit complicated, but you are given a secret code (decryption key) when you choose to sync a folder, and you need to enter this code on any devices you want to sync. One cool feature of this setup is that you can also generate secret codes that allow temporary and/or permanent read-only access. The master code will allow read and write access, and temporary codes can also be given write access, which would be good to share files for a limited time when collaborating on a project. Even better, the Sync application will allow you to use a custom (base64 encoded) key that is longer than 40 characters if you feel the default keys are not long/secure enough.
The BitTorrent Sync app for Windows--The SyncApp folder is the folder it syncs by default.
The application will sync over WAN or LAN, with a preferrence towards syncing with computers on the same local network. Changes and file syncs are initiated almost instantly, though the actual transfer speed will depend on your network connections.
It is a free app that allows you to sync as many files and folders as you want securely, and it's worh a look in my opinion. Combined with a VPS that allows P2P applications (Backupsy is one that will make an exception for Sync users), you can create your own Dropbox-like sync solution without those pesky file size limits. (Though, currently, you would be missing out on Dropbox's versioning functionality. I hope to see that remedied in future releases.)
You can find more information as well as download links for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux versions of Sync on the BitTorrent Labs website.
Yes, you may be able to tell from this post that I'm excited about Sync--I am. I'm glad someone that can actually code (as in, not me) has finally put together a program that I've been wanting for a long time, and that it generally works well from what I've been able to test so far. It's just my opinion though, if you do try it out let me know what you think of Sync!