As demand for cloud-based storage soars, storage providers are boosting limits to attract and retain users.
More online storage companies are increasing storage limits for free
accounts in order to attract new users and to keep existing ones from switching
The latest storage service to boost storage limits for free accounts from 2GB
to 5G is Pro Softnet, with its IDrive Online Backup product. Mobile Media also
said its Jupiter Files hosted online storage platform, expected early in the first
quarter of 2011, will offer "unlimited storage capabilities" for
free. Box.net started it all Oct. 28 by increasing its free account storage
from 1GB to 5GB, followed shortly by Sugar
Nov. 11. DropBox is hanging on to its 2GB limit for free accounts for
now, and Carbonite and Mozy offer only free trials.
Box.net CEO Aaron Levie wrote in a blog
post at the time that hard drive efficiency has improved "nearly 400
percent" since 2006, allowing Box.net to store five times the amount of
data in the same space.
Cloud-based storage offers "tremendous" economies of scale, said
Levie, making storage even cheaper for storage providers and end users alike.
While Box.net is just passing along to customers the results of efficiency
improvements, it also highlights how much cloud-based storage has boomed in
2010. Cloud-based storage accounted for nearly 40 percent of the core cloud
market in 2010, according to a recent report by the 451 Group
. The report called the storage
sector "fertile," predicting that cloud storage will experience the
strongest growth amongst cloud platforms in the years ahead.
"Online storage has been met with increasing demand, be it for
convenience, security, backup, collaboration or all of the above," said
Danny Jenkins, CEO of Mobile Media. The
company's forthcoming Jupiter Files will allow users to synchronize personal
and business files on the cloud.
"We're looking to shake the market up a bit," he wrote on the
company's blog post, referring to the application's unlimited storage quota.
Cloud storage is a "major opportunity" because it lets
organizations store terabytes of data without paying for the physical
infrastructure, according to a
report by GigaOm
. Cloud computing might "fill the entirety of their
storage needs" for small startups, including backup, archiving and primary
storage, wrote GigaOm's Derrick Harris. Traditional businesses are more likely
to turn to cloud storage for backing up data and archiving to meet regulatory
compliance requirements, he said.
"In today's world, the 2GB free offering falls short of expectations to
provide our users a full flavor of what online backup can do," said Shweta
D Sachdeva, Pro Softnet's COO, referring to
IDrive also offers paid monthly plans of $4.95 for 150GB, and $14.95 for
500GB of storage shared across five computers. IDrive supports backing up data
on a variety of platforms, including PCs, Macs and smartphones. Its IDrive-Lite
service handles backups for iPhone, Android and BlackBerry smartphones.
"The last thing you should be worrying about are 'traditional' issues
like storage allotments, bandwidth limitations, upgrades, patches," said
Box.net's Levie. Users should be focusing on collaboration and the ability to
work anywhere, he said.