How big is Dropbox? Hint: very big

Dropbox is an online storage success story and if recent numbers are to believed, then it is headed for even greater glory. Competition from Google has not impacted their growth. And now mobile phone makers like HTC have already helped it become really big.

eBay deploys 100TB of flash storage

Nimbus Data Systems today rolled out its second-generation platform and announced online auction giant eBay as a major customer. In fact, eBay has deployed a non-trivial 100TB of Nimbus gear. Have we finally reached the inflection point for primary flash storage?

Mac Backup Strategies for Worldwide Backup Day

Today is Worldwide Backup Day, when we celebrate taking precautions so as not to lose data. The best backup strategies take a layered approach to provide different levels of protection. I’m going to focus on three layers for protecting your Mac: online, nearline, and offsite backups.

Startup Joyent Sells BingoDisk and Strongspace

bingodisklogo.gifJoyent, a Sausalito, Calif.-based startup that began as a hosting service company with designs on web applications, has decided to sell off two of its services — BingoDisk and Strongspace — to ExpanDrive. Joyent is now transitioning towards becoming a “cloud services” provider focusing on web applications. “As Joyent has grown, we’ve been pulling back from pure consumer offerings to focus more on our infrastructure offerings,” the company said today on its blog.
The service migration is going to start Aug. 17. If you want to switch to the new storage provider, you don’t need to do anything: the switch will happen automagically. “We’re not scuttling these services – we’ve taken control and rebuilt them into a second version,” said Jeff Mancuso, CEO of Expandrive, a company that sells  ExpanDrive software –  an SFTP client for Mac and Windows and lets you mount the remote server as a network drive. “We’re turning this into an iDisk killer – it’s extremely fast and reliable. It feels like a USB key,”
If you don’t want to sign up with ExpanDrive, you have until Sept. 30 to download the data. Since I don’t know Expandrive very well, I am going to have to find an alternative. I have been using BingoDisk for so long that I have accumulated tens of gigabytes of data as backup. Downloading it and then re-backing it again doesn’t look like a fun exercise. Thank god for a big, fat broadband pipe — it might actually get done. The question is, where to keep it all? For syncing between computers I use Dropbox, but it doesn’t have a backup-only option. So maybe Jungle Disk?

ExpanDrive 2.0 Enhances GUI, Speed, and Connectivity Options

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Building on the success of their initial offering, ExpanDrive has released version 2.0 of their Mac client for accessing a wide array of online storage systems.

ExpanDrive is built on MacFUSE, an open-source project that provides the base functionality and SDK for connecting to remote and alternative filesystems. The ExpanDrive developer-alchemists have mixed in a bit of their own Python and Objective-C components to significantly enhance the potency of these MacFUSE-managed filesystems and definitely improved the formula for this major update. Read on to see what’s new in 2.0. Read More about ExpanDrive 2.0 Enhances GUI, Speed, and Connectivity Options

Box.net Will Refocus on Business Users

new-box-uiHaving followed the online storage business for quite a few years, I have become increasingly convinced that many of the startups will have to retweak their focus and find new opportunities to stay relevant and stay in business.

Aaron Levie, CEO and founder of Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup Box.net, agrees. He has decided to pivot his company away from the consumer and instead focus on business users. “We are going to be less about storing music and photos and more about focusing on storage for collaboration,” he said in an interview. As we had pointed out earlier, an ad-supported online storage model isn’t for the faint of the heart. Several, including AOL’s XDrive and Yahoo’s (s YHOO) Briefcase, have shutdown. Read More about Box.net Will Refocus on Business Users

Amazon Cuts Prices on S3

Amazon announced today that it will cut prices for its Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) offering on Nov. 1. The company is essentially offering people who use more storage significant volume discounts. For folks using up to 50 terabytes of storage, the price cuts don’t make much of a difference. In the U.S. they pay 15 cents per gigabyte; in Europe, 18 cents. If you go above 50 terabytes, the price declines by a penny and if you cross the 100-terabyte mark, you see another penny-per-gigabyte decline. After 500 terabytes your price is going to be 12 cents a gigabyte in the U.S. and 15 cents in Europe.

At present you pay 15 cents per GB/month of storage used, regardless of the amount of storage consumed. The current cuts don’t impact the pricing for data transfers and requests made to the Amazon S3 system. Nevertheless, this is still going to save some dollars for startups that are using the S3 service. Amazon, in making the announcement, gave some interesting data points: Read More about Amazon Cuts Prices on S3

SpiderOak: Another Take on Online Backups

ScreenshotThe online backup and storage market gets ever more crowded, but SpiderOak has some features that make it stand out. It’s not the cheapest alternative around, but considering what you get, it may well be worth paying for. They use their own storage algorithm that aggressively deduplicates data, allowing them to save everything you upload, including all versions. They provide nice clients for Mac, Linux, and Windows. And they’re cryptographically secure from the moment your data leaves your computer – unless you hand over your password, even the folks who work at SpiderOak can’t see your data.

This security is under your control – you can also take portions of your backed-up data and make them shareable. So, for example, you could have a folder of photos on your computer that was backed up on a continuous basis, and any time you add a new photo, it’s instantly shared with all of your friends and family (or at least the ones you’ve opened the share to). Your first 2GB of SpiderOak storage is free; after that, you can buy storage in 100GB increments for $10 per month. You can use the client from as many devices as you like for that price.

One Online Storage Startup Backs Up Profits

Last week in my analysis of online storage sector, How to standout in the sea of storage startups, I pointed out that many startups were having a tough time convincing folks to upgrade from free to paying services. That post got many reactions, including a comment from Raghu Kulkarni, founder and CEO of Pro Softnet, a Woodland Hills Calif.-based company.

His company runs two online storage services, IDrive and IBackup. While IDrive is a more consumer-focused backup service, while IBackup caters to the enterprise crowd, because of its additional capabilities. Think of them as Mozy and Mozy pro, says Kulkarni, who claims that his self-funded (bootstrapped) outfit is growing almost 50 percent every year.

Revenues for 2008 are projected to be $12 million, up from $8.3 million in 2007 and $5.4 million in 2006. The company has been profitable for three years now, but Kulkarni declined to share profits data. At present, the revenues are split 70/30 in favor of IBackup, but he is betting this is going to change soon. “The conversion rate for free to paid for IDrive is about 15%,” he wrote to me in a subsequent email exchange. “Early 2007, we had to create a version of IBackup to compete in the low priced segment, hence the IDrive product offering.” The company has about 250,000 users and stores many petabytes of data, Kulkarni says.