If you are like me, you like the idea of backing up content from your desktop to an external storage device, such as an External HDD. I have a 2tb drive that houses my movies, music, pictures and a variety of other content. I keep it safely tucked away on the floor next to my desk out of the way, secure, and plenty of breathing space to keep it from getting hot. However, external drives can fail. What are some other options for you? I have 3 excellent choices for you.
First off, what I aim to accomplish here is give you a run down of storage sizes between the three options on the free side. With in each description, I will also give the run down on what support files are allowed on each of the three. Finally, I will let you know what apps are available for each. So, let’s get started shall we?
Box.net is an impressive deal. You get 5gb’s right out of the box for free. This is a decent amount of space to back up and save any documents and files that you can’t afford to loose. You can save audio, video, doc, pdf and picture files without any issue. You can also share said files with friends, family and co-workers. You can also share publicly with anyone that wants that file. It is a great setup for anyone. You also have access to free apps for the Android phone and Tablet platforms, iPhone, iPad, TouchPad, Blackberry, and the Blackberry Playbook. This is handy for accessing files on the go. There is a desktop client, but you have to have the business or Enterprise packages to access this app. That is the one major aspect that holds this service back from the competition.
Next up is DropBox. DropBox offers 2gb’s free to start with, but you can actually increase your free allotment by encouraging friends and family to sign up via an invitation link. For each individual you get to sign up, that is a bonus 250mb’s with a maximum of 8gb’s. You have the ability to store audio, video, doc, pdf and picture files without any issue here as well. Again, there are apps for Android, iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry devices. There is no specifics for Android platforms to indicate differences between using it on your phone versus on a tablet. One great thing about DropBox is that you have access to the desktop client for free. This makes it easy to save files. When you install the client, it will create a folder in your user folder. This is a normal folder like all the rest in your documents folder. If you save files directly in there instead of normal locations, it will automatically sync with the online account. This makes it the easiest method to maintain backups.
Lastly, we have Minus. Minus offers a whopping 10gb’s of online storage space for free. Just like DropBox, you have the ability to increase that allotment by inviting friends and family using a personalized link. For each person that signs up, you get an extra 1gb each plus a “Karma” point! The maximum amount you can earn is a very impressive 50gb’s! This makes it easily the most tempting of the three thus far due to the sheer amount of space you get. And this is the lifetime of the account, barring any changes to policies in the future. Minus does not express any limitations on what you can store on your account, just like DropBox and Box.net. As for applications and clients, you have access to a Windows, Mac, and Ubuntu desktop client that you can use to sync folders. There are extensions for Chrome, and Firefox, as well. As for mobile apps, there is support for Android and iPhone with Windows Phone 7 support “coming soon”.
For the budding developer that wishes to integrate support of these services into their mobile apps, or a desktop app, there are API’s available from DropBox and Minus on their websites. I could not find API support for Box.net, however. One example of a mobile app that uses the DropBox API’s is EStrongs File Manager in the Android Market. You can also find integration of their services within social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Of the three, my personal favorite is a draw between DropBox and Minus. Minus, however has more space and more options as far as syncing. I have accounts with all three, and have used them all. I highly recommend giving them all a run and see which one you like most.