Store It on the Web

More Online Storage Services

Box.net

Box.net offers a clean Web 2.0 interface for managing files, but storing more than 1GB will cost you.
Box.net offers a clean Web 2.0 interface for managing files, but storing more than 1GB will cost you.
You get 1GB of free space and a clean, lean Web 2.0 interface with this service. File management, including the ability to tag your files and folders, is also simple.

Yet Box.net offers little in the way of extras. A stand-alone program that will synchronize with your desktop folders is still in the works. And while you can stream music, you can play just one song at a time, and only through Box.net's own little desktop player applet.

The free version has some limits: You can't upload files larger than 10MB, and you can download only one file at a time. The paid options--$5 a month for 5GB, and $10 a month for 15GB--do away with these limits and offer both mobile access and support for additional users.

Simdesk

This service provides a number of nice features, especially for business collaboration. For example, you can map the service as a network drive, and you can sync online files with those in a desktop folder. It also lets you send online files to a shared printer via its browser-based interface. You can even get to that interface using a Web-enabled mobile device.

However, the Simdesk Web interface is inelegant, and file navigation is slow: To move a file, you have to use the program's buttons to cut and paste it rather than simply dragging and dropping it.

Simdesk's pricing isn't so hot, either: It costs $3.50 a month for up to 1GB of storage and $6.50 per month for 2GB, which doesn't compare to GoDaddy's low-cost offerings. In addition, Simdesk imposes a 5GB-per-month transfer limit.

FlipDrive

Flipdrive's zipped-up downloads are great, but its features are otherwise lacking compared with other services.
Flipdrive's zipped-up downloads are great, but its features are otherwise lacking compared with other services.
Compared with the other online storage services I looked at, FlipDrive feels somewhat spartan. The site's free service provides only 25MB of storage, so it's basically a teaser. The FlipDrive Web interface is serviceable but plain, and there's no client program to use instead.

The service's Web download feature stands out: Choose several folders and files, and FlipDrive automatically zips them to speed your downloads and preserve file names and directory structures. Still, dragging and dropping files to and from a mapped drive is probably faster.

You can make as many sharable photo albums as you like and order prints of pictures in the album from FlipDrive. However, you can't download full-size, full-resolution images. FlipDrive costs about the same as Box.net--$5 a month for 5GB, $10 a month for 15GB--but its top level costs $20 a month for 30GB.

Online Storage Solutions

This service slaps a bare-bones interface around a large FTP (File Transport Protocol) account. It lacks online file management, media streaming, file synchronizing, and other extras. However, as with any FTP account, you can use Novell's free Netdrive utility to map a network drive.

The upside is that you get more space for your money: up to 10GB for only $5 per month, and up to 100GB for $35 per month. For FTP users who are looking for a lot of storage space with few restrictions, and who don't require such niceties as a functional Web interface, Online Storage Solutions might be a good choice. Otherwise, one of the other storage services in this roundup will serve you much better.

Extend Your Hard Disk to the Web

Jump to our comparison chart here of the online storage services discussed in this section.

Erik Larkin

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