Lots of free storage but too hard to use
DropBox, Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive and Microsoft’s SkyDrive are some of the big names in remote storage but there are many others, typically offering 2-5 gigabytes of free space with a paid option for more.
You probably understand the advantages of storing files remotely, especially back-ups of files you can’t easily re-create after a crash (passwords, photos and original documents) or stolen computer. There is the advantage of having access to files from your phone or work computer.
Free storage is great but it is a hassle to run the software for each service. SME solves tis by allowing you to run one program for multiple services. While SME is proprietary. The free version limits you to only three services but is otherwise open-ethos.
Runs almost transparently
After an initial set-up on the SME website it runs as a desktop application. In Linux, all your “cloud” files mount as sub-folders at any place you designate. You can also access your files from SME’s website.
It has run flawlessly on my Linux laptop. SME is built around the open-source FUSE program which may explain why it works so well I set SME to run on start-up and I can almost forget that some of my folders are on other services. Of course, one needs to be connected to the Internet. I love having access to my files without all the multiple sign-ins and ads.
SME and the individual storage providers all claim to be highly secure but I would still be cautious. Of course, use a long and unique passphrase. You may consider first encrypting your highly sensitive files (passwords, credit card numbers, student records) with PGP or similar.
You can also include your school’s FTP server in SME which may be convenient. (I didn’t test this feature since I’m happy with Filezilla.)
Bottom line: SME actually does makes remote file storage easy.
Tool: Storage Made Easy
Description: a web and software combination that brings multiple remote file servers to your desktop.
License: proprietary, based on open source software.
Rating: very useful
Since I made this entry — I received this email from Storage Made Easy:
PRISM and Data Snooping
Since our last newsletter the PRISM storm has erupted with companies and individuals becoming worried about who has access to their cloud stored data.
For SaaS users The SME public / private key encryption for remote files is an ideal way to protect and secure sensitive data. You keep the private key to encrypted data. It is not stored on SME Servers. You need to remember it to access the data. Without it the file cannot be accessed. This means SME or anyone else cannot access the data.
While I am glad they are taking privacy seriously, I’m not sure this really addresses the issue. As I understand it, if you have your data on a commercial hosting service, then your documents and communication can be secretly copied and stored by the NSA. Not just can be but probably is.
So, secure data transfer doesn’t really protect you from the NSA. It would, however, help you with hackers, identity thieves, etc.
Probably, a better privacy strategy is hosting your own private server – where the computer is actually in your building. Then use encrypted data transfer like a Virtual Private Network and/or FTP over SSL. I have to say — it’s a shame we have to go to this effort and expense to protect our own privacy when we’ve done nothing wrong.