Get 200GB of Cloud Storage Free, With a Catch

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You can find gigabytes upon gigabytes of free online storage from a variety of sites and services. Only one, though, is offering a massive 200GB of cloud storage at no charge.

Symform announced that customers can get up to 200GB of free storage, but there's a catch...or two. Users start with 100GB, and can earn the additional 100GB--10GB at a time--through a referral program. Setting up a Symform account also requires you to contribute unused space from your local storage.

Cloud storage
Symform has a unique approach to cloud storage.
A press release from Symform explains, "The Symform Storage Cloud is the industry's first decentralized cloud storage solution. Users contribute inexpensive local storage equal to the amount of data that they want to redundantly store in the cloud. Symform then uses RAID-96 to geographically distribute, encrypt, and shred its data."

There is no Symform data center, per se. Symform is relying on a sort of peer-to-peer network where encrypted fragments of files are stored redundantly across local storage provided by customers. It is more like an online storage collective with some additional security thrown in. Because of the way Symform shreds and stores the data, though, it takes 150GB of space to back up 100GB of data, so you must contribute 150GB of storage to the collective to get your 100GB.

Because of the requirement to contribute your own storage space to the collective at a ratio of 1.5:1, I don't think the service can really be called "free". Granted, I can get a 1TB drive for $50, so allocating 150GB of space to Symform is not an expensive proposition. It's just not quite "free".

Beyond the free 200GB plan, Symform customers can also access unlimited cloud storage for $10 per month--along with also upping the ante on the amount of contributed space relative to the amount of data you plan to store in the "cloud".

There is another cloud storage provider offering unlimited data for $10 per month, as well. Bitcasa uses a different unique approach, though, with its own concerns. Bitcasa analyzes all data from all customers to eliminate storing of redundant files. In other words, if 15 customers all have the MP3 for "Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People, Bitcasa will only store it once, rather than using 15 times more space storing duplicates.

Laura DuBois, program vice president at IDC claims, "Businesses have been slow to adopt cloud storage because it is still quite expensive," adding, "Symform's redundant approach provides firms with a very cost-effective solution, which is why they can offer 200GB for free while others charge hundreds or more. It's a great way for businesses to more economically adopt cloud storage."

Cost is not the biggest roadblock, though, to cloud storage. There are many other issues related to availability, integrity, privacy, and security that cause businesses to think twice about relying on the cloud.

If privacy or availability are holding you back from embracing cloud storage, Symform doesn't seem to offer much to allay your fears. But, if cost is your only--or at least main concern--by all means check out what Symform has to offer. It is undoubtedly a unique and cost-effective solution.

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