Choosing a cloud service while waiting for iCloud

Summary:There are many rumors swirling about iCloud, Apple's mythical cloud data service, but what if you need some online storage space right now?

There are many rumors swirling about iCloud -- the mythical cloud data service code-named "Castle" spotted in Mac OS 10.7 builds -- but what if you need some online storage space, right now?

If you need iOS integration, there's simply no better solution around right now than Dropbox. Most of the best iOS apps support Dropbox and its become a virtual storage for over 25 million users. Lacking a solid solution from Apple many iPhone and iPad users have adopted Dropbox as their surrogate file system.

Dropbox raised the ire of privacy advocates last week when it changed its terms of service stating that it would decrypt private Dropbox folders for government investigators "when it receives valid legal process." While Dropbox responded that most Internet companies (including Google, Apple, Skype and Twitter) have the same legal obligation.

PowerPage podcaster Tom Hesser pointed out that DropBox has been increasing security in its experimental builds. For example, I had DropBox v0.7 installed on my MacBook Air and v1.0.10 on my MacBook Pro, but Dropbox Experimental Edition v1.2.0 (direct download) features several security enhancements, including:

  • Security enhancements, an attacker will not be able to steal your computer's account credentials just by copying configuration files to another machine.
  • New encrypted database format to prevent unauthorized access to local Dropbox client database.
  • Other small fixes
  • Continued 10.7 support

It's pretty tough to beat Dropbox at the moment. It's the 800 pound guerilla in the space and its deep Mac OS and iOS integration will likely keep it at the top of the heap for a while.

If you're a privacy advocate and looking for another solution, I recommend Wuala.com (a clever play on "Voila!"). It features the same 1GB-free-pay-for-more model as other cloud services but with one key difference -- you hold the keys. In other words, the encryption is done on the client (not on the server) and your password is never transmitted. This means that prying eyes that got into Wuala couldn't see your files if there was a security breach.

In addition to offering standard cloud-based storage, backup, sync and file sharing Wuala also offers another innovative feature - the ability to trade local storage on any of your Internet-connected computers for additional, free cloud storage space on Wuala.

As an example, you could trade 100 GB on your computer and get up to 100 GB of additional online storage in return. You get whatever you provide on your computer multiplied by your online time. In the example above, you would get 70 GB of additional online storage if you're online 70% of the time. Clearly, this doesn't give you extra storage, but it changes the quality of your storage - you can access your files from anywhere, make an off-site backup, and easily share files among friends and in groups.

Add Amazon Cloud Drive to the mix and you've got a potent (and free) cloud storage triumvirate that should take care of all of your cloud storage needs, at least for now.

I can't wait to see what Apple has in store for us with iCloud/MobileMe/iTunes and it's shiny new data center in Maiden, NC, but until then Dropbox, Wuala and Could Drive get the job done.

What cloud storage service do you use? Why?
(cloud key image: Silicon.com)

Topics: Cloud, Amazon, Apple, Data Centers, iOS, iPad, Mobile OS, Operating Systems, Storage

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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