The explosion of digital information means that almost everyone has a lot of megabytes or gigabytes of information that needs to be stored. Whether you want to store digital photos, music that you have paid for, videos – both personal and commercial, or documents, you need to be sure that they are easily accessible when you need them and difficult for hackers and others to obtain the information they contain.
External Hard Disk
One solution is to have a backup on an external hard disk. However, this has its draw backs. First, you have to incur the cost of keeping an external hard disk and then have to ensure that you create backups regularly. Additionally, there is always the risk that the calamity that destroys the computer can also destroy the hard disk placed next to it.
Another solution is to opt for external or online cloud storage. This is a fairly inexpensive way of storing digital information. An added advantage with cloud storage is the ability to access the files you want from multiple locations or from a variety of devices. However, this ease of access has led to security fears as well.
When you use cloud-based storage systems you are using the Internet to transfer data to an external storage device owned and managed by a third party. The first area where a breach of security can occur is during transmission. In theory, it is possible for a hacker to intercept the communication between your PC and the cloud storage device and access your data.
To ensure that hackers cannot access your personal data, the cloud storage provider will ask you to use an application that encrypts the data before you send it. This means that any intercepted data is just garbled nonsense to the hacker. This encryption is called secure socket layer (SSL) or transport layer security (TLS). Most cloud based storage services offer a minimum of 128-bit encryption, a level that has not yet been hacked. This is the same level of encryption used by payment gateways to enable secure financial transactions.
Even if your data reaches the storage server securely, there is the problem of others being able to access it. Most third party storage services have multiple layers of security to prevent this. However, in the US, they are obliged to let law enforcement authorities access the data stored with them. Since, the law regarding privacy of such stored data changes with time, you should store only data that you are willing to let the enforcement authorities see.
Another potential breach of security can occur when others are able to use your PC or password to access the data you have stored online. To avoid this scenario it is best if you have a strong password that you change frequently. By not permitting your computer or browser to remember the password, you can reduce the chances of hacking.
As with other areas of the digital world, online or cloud storage is here to stay. The service providers are bound to enhance security, but the truly security conscious user can consider encrypting the files before storing. They can also stay alert to attempts at hacking by periodically checking when the last attempt to access the file was made.
By constantly using the latest technology to secure the data and by being vigilant, people can safely use cloud storage for personal and official purposes.
While reading Twitter in the last couple of days I stumbled upon an interesting new service that promises to be very interesting to people who feel the need to store their data in the cloud. It is called Bitcasa and if the announcements are true it could be a revolutionizing service in the cloud backup and synchronization space. Bitcasa is currently in beta and offers unlimited storage space for your data in the cloud. The beta is currently for free but they will be offering the service for only $10 per month. This is a very competitive offer especially when you compare it to Dropbox which costs $9.99 per month for only 50 GB.
Get exclusive access to the beta by signing up through this link and tell me your story. Did it work for you? Did you encounter any problems?
I am glad to say that I could sign up for the beta to test the service here for you. Obviously, as this is only a beta, I expected there to be bugs and would not recommend using it right now as your primary backup and synchronization service. However, in my testing Bitcasa performed quite well. And in this Bitcasa review I will talk about the most important facts and problems that might occur with the beta version.
I’ve also included a video which shows you the service in action so that you can consider signing up for the beta if you want to. And if not you can save some time.
Who is behind Bitcasa?
Bitcasa was founded in 2011 by former employees of MasterCard, VeriSign and Mozy. This combination of talent seems to be very promising for Bitcasa’s future. With the experience of having worked at MasterCard and VeriSign I suppose that Bitcasa will strongly put emphasis on the security side of cloud storage. An issue where Dropbox still has some weaknesses. Mozy is a very well known online backup service and this experience cannot harm Bitcasa either.
I’m really looking forward to testing the service and see how the beta works.
Create a new user or login to your account
Currently, there is only a stable version available for Mac. That’s why I’m going to test it on my iMac and MacbookPro both with the current Lion OS. As expected, installation works very well and without any issues. As Bitcasa has to dig deeply into your system you need your admin password to perform the installation.
After it is installed on your system, you can see a green icon in the top bar of your Mac indicating that Bitcasa is now active. You can create an account or you can sign in with your existing account for example if you install it on a 2nd machine.
How Bitcasa works
Unlike other online backup services, Bitcasa won’t start backing up everything you have on your PC or Mac. You have to select the folders you want to “cloudify”, as it is called by Bitcasa. That is easily done with a right-click selecting “Cloudify this…”. Bitcasa offers “infinite storage on your desktop” by using your hard drive as a smart cache connected to a cloud storage service. I think this is the future as we are not supposed to think in terms of “backups” anymore. Our computers will move to the cloud, accessible everywhere we go. Bitcasa seems like a great start into that world.
Select a folder or hard drive to put your files into the cloud
The selected folder then gets moved into “My Bitcasa Folders”. In the beta, Bitcasa will not delete the files from your system. However, when the final version launches, Bitcasa will delete the files from your system moving them into their cloud. But you can always uncloudify or unmount the files you uploaded. I am not sure whether I like this procedure as I don’t feel comfortable with files being deleted from my system. But I’ll have to see it practice when the final version is being released.
Bitcasa folders - accessible from anywhere
I have uploaded several folders with various files in it from a couple of megabytes to a couple of gigabytes and generally the upload was speedy and everything got backed up successfully. The user interface was easy to understand and even beginners can grasp it very quickly.
Syncing your files with Bitcasa
Unlimited online backup is not new. However, Bitcasa goes beyond that. With Bitcasa you get unlimited online backup and syncing space. Meaning you basically get Dropbox on steroids. You only have to install the Bitcasa client on your systems and start sharing files among them.
In my testing file syncing still did not work flawlessly. I selected the folder and cloudified it but the folder wouldn’t appear instantly on my other Mac. My setup is as follows: I installed Bitcasa on my iMac. Then I installed the client on my MacBookPro as I constantly need to exchange data with those machines.
When I selected the folder to be cloudified I needed to restart Bitcasa on the other machine to get it to notice that another folder has been added. I am sure this is only a beta issue and will get fixed very soon with other versions of Bitcasa.
Sharing files with Bitcasa
Share folders of even hard drives with your peers
You can also share your files among your peers very easily: just click on a folder in the Bitcasa file explorer and hit on “Send this”. A link is being created which will allow other people (who also use Bitcasa) to join the folder you shared with them.
Bitcasa Pros and Cons
It is hard to do a list of pros and cons because the service is still in beta and pretty young. So I expect there to come quite a lot of changes in the next couple of weeks. But I’ll update this review constantly. Here’s a list of pros and cons I encountered during my testing:
Unlimited storage in the cloud
Very easy to use
All OS will be support (currently: Mac beta and Windows Alpha)
Sync and share folder and also entire hard drives
Share those folders or drives with other people
Reserved cache available to load drives faster
Files are fully encrypted locally
I am sure there are more pros than that but here come a few cons that I noted but could be eliminated with the final version:
Web client still very rudimentary
Advertising with “infinite cloud storage” which could be misleading because it is just not possible. Imagine Amazon wants to store their data at Bitcasa
Still no file versioning in place to look back
Bitcasa review summary
Well, Bitcasa is still in beta and you defintely notice that. It worked well except the syncing issue where I had to restart the client to reflect the changes on the other machine. But I am sure this will be fixed soon.
All in all, Bitcasa looks very promising to me. For 10$ a month you’ll get unlimited file storage and syncing which I have not seen before on the market and that can be called “disruptive”.
I talked recently with Backblaze’s CEO Gleb Budman about what their biggest competitor is. Surprisingly it wasn’t what I expected. I thought I’d probably hear Carbonite or Livedrive, both offering unlimited cloud backup. However, it was something else: apathy. The reason why apathy is a strong competitor is that it begets inaction which ultimately begets [...]