More online storage companies are increasing storage limits for free accounts in order to attract new users and to keep existing ones from switching elsewhere.
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 Sync 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 areport 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.
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.