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Monday, May 29, 2006

Online file storage that works? Not a chance...

So right now I'm trialling Box.net and Omnidrive, to the point where I've installed Firefox again (the 1.5 series is a lot better than the 1.0s) to make full use of their internet interfaces.

As I've said before Omnidrive has the most promise - here's their blurb:

"Omnidrive is what you expect hosted storage to be - easy to use, accessible from anywhere and unrestrictive. Omnidrive will make your life easier by allowing you to store, access and stream your files from almost any web connected platform."

Sounds great, doesn't it? But speaking as a private beta tester, their service is nowhere near that description yet - the online interface works, but none of the desktop intergration does. Although you get a Omnidrive icon in My Computer, if you edit any files from there using, say, Office, and save them there, none of the changes show up in the documents viewed through the web interface. There's no synchronization going on.

Similairly, if you open a document via the web interface, make some changes, and save it again, the file is actually saved in some temp folder on your local machine and the web files are, again, not updated.

The one thing the desktop intergration does do well is bulk uploading - I dragged and dropped some 100Mb of files into the Omnidrive explorer window and they all uploaded without a hitch.

They've also gone rather quiet about future updates to their service to get them closer to their goal. I've not given up hope entirely, but certainly for now Omnidrive remains just a nice idea.

The other service I'm trialling is Box.net. It's a simpler system - simply a well made web file store. There's a Java based drag-and-drop bulk uploader which works well, and the web interface itself is very good (at least when viewed in Firefox). However right now there's no synchronization features - if you want to update a file after editing it, you have to save it locally and then re-upload it.

Box.net do say they're working on a desktop app which will add synchronization and possibly "web drive" like features - sounds like it could become very much like what Omnidrive promises.

One feature I really want that both seem to lack though is mobile device intergration. Ideally, I want be able to acces files on my PDA via the internet, edit them, and then be able to later view the updated files on whatever other platform I chose - be it a work computer or my home PC.

I can dream...

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Hey Dan - we do have a few bugs that we are ironing out in time for our next release which will be coming up shortly. In the next version of Omnidrive the desktop app will be a lot more stable, as will the direct read/write of files on the web. As a user you will get an update email as soon as it is out. Thanks for trying out Omnidrive though, always apprecaite feedback.
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