In the fast-growing world of personal online storage, one major item has been static: the amount of free space given away by companies trying to lure you to buy lots more storage space.
That freebie standard of 2GB -- offered by several reliable services that include DropBox, Carbonite, Mozy, and others -- has been increased to 5GB, thanks to a move made by Box.net on Oct. 28 and upstart SugarSync on Nov. 10.
Box.net CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie announced in his blog that his 5-year-old company upped its free service to 5GB and that the premium plans now start at 500GB.
"This will more than triple the amount of storage the average business subscriber has access to," Levie wrote. "Services like SharePoint Online, Google Docs, or Salesforce Content typically limit users to a gigabyte or less each; we think our new model offers a very compelling advantage over the current ways businesses can manage their content in the cloud today."
SugarSync, which bills itself as "the personal cloud," enables home or business users to store files in personal folders in its secure storage and then synchronize them among desktop, laptops--including PCs, Macs, or iPads--and most smartphones. These include iPhones, Blackberrys, Androids--any device that uses a Web browser.
DropBox also has offered this type of service for several years [2GB free] and has gained a loyal and growing following. But now it's faced with the 5GB challenge.
After SugarSync users sign up for the service, they select the folders they want to synchronize and drop them into the shared folders in the SugarSync app. Everything gets copied to the new secure account, is made available to all specified devices, and can be accessed 24/7 from any Web browser.
So, for example, photos stored in a home desktop computer can easily be accessed and viewed on an iPhone, if you're on the road and want to show someone how much the kids have grown.
SugarSync also has a multiuser sync feature that would work well with special-interest groups, friends or family, or business associates working on distributed projects.
SugarSync works well as an ad hoc backup system. All users need to do is save important documents, photos, video or music to one of the SugarSync folders and they are archived in the cloud.
Also this week, the company added tighter security by adding PIN codes for SugarSync accounts that must be entered every time the application is opened. This gives users a layer of security in case the phone or laptop is lost or stolen.
"The information we are retaining in all our devices is growing faster than most people realize. If you don't plan capacity for what you really want to keep, then allow yourself easy access to it, things can get out of control," CEO Laura Yecies, former general manager of Yahoo's Mail division, told eWEEK.
SugarSync's premium service options range from a 30GB account for $4.99 per month ($49.99/year) to a 500GB one for $39.99 a month ($399.99/year). Multiuser business accounts are also available.