Sizing up some typical cloud storage providers

MyDrive

The cloud service MyDrive, which is based in Switzerland, is aimed less at collaboration and more at being an online backup medium. This service also allows guest users to access existing file holdings. Softronics Communication AG, the operator of MyDrive, provides 100MB of free storage volume, which can be expanded in increments up to 5GB for a fee.

You can access the cloud storage from Linux either via the web interface or by connecting the cloud directly to the filesystem as a separate drive using the WebDAV protocol. Data transfers are SSL-encrypted. The service does not offer client software.

You can complete the MyDrive registration on the website  [6], where you only need to specify a username and password. In typical fashion, the provider sends a confirmation link via email to activate the account. After clicking the link, MyDrive welcomes you with a simple dashboard (Figure  7).

Figure 7: The MyDrive dashboard is clearly structured and tidily presented.

To begin, you create a folder structure for storing data in the cloud by creating optional directories using the Create folder button. After switching to the desired folder and clicking on the Upload button on the left of the window, you select the files you want to upload in the file manager and complete the process by clicking Upload.

Guest users can grant different rights when sharing data. However, the free version of MyDrive only allows a single guest to be created. You can recreate this guest by clicking on the Settings entry on the left of the dashboard and then clicking Guests | Create new guest user. In the new dialog, you set up the guest account and specify appropriate rights (Figure  8).

Figure 8: You can set up a guest user in MyDrive in just few clicks.

The subsequent invitation allows the guest to log in with the access data in question and use the shared files. You can change the rights at any time by clicking on the person icon next to the folder you want to change and modifying the rights accordingly.

TeamDrive

The Germany-based cloud service TeamDrive is subject to the strict German Privacy Policy. The company provides 2GB of free space in the cloud for private customers – this can be expanded to a maximum of 10GB by referring friends. You can choose between different fee-based options if you need more memory.

TeamDrive provides a Linux client for different packet management and hardware architectures that can be downloaded for free [7]. The software is mandatory for using the service. Additionally, the company also offers server solutions that sometimes (depending on amount of use) turn out to be free and store data locally and on the cloud. After downloading, you install the client from the terminal, and you can complete registration during the setup, as well; TeamDrive only asks for a username, password, and email address. The service is available for use after sending an email message to the specified address and subsequent confirmation (Figure 9).

Figure 9: The TeamDrive client combines all the important information in one view.

TeamDrive manages data in the cloud in Spaces. Locally, these are nothing more than lists to be created. You can also completely manage the system via the client: this way you can share files with other members, define backup sessions, and configure synchronization. The process management integrated in the service makes it possible to reconstruct previous versions of a file during collaborative work. The provider from Hamburg accounts for security aspects in an exemplary fashion: It encrypts all data according to the AES-256 standard, for which the key remains on the client machine, and transmits all data with SSL encryption.

You can share your data with other users using the Invite Users dialog. Simply enter the appropriate email address and confirm it by clicking the Invite Users button. The recipient then receives the invitation email in his TeamDrive client with details of the rights granted. Clicking Accept accepts the share and displays it in the Spaces view (Figure 10).

Figure 10: You can share data in TeamDrive via email.

Yandex.Disk

The Russian company Yandex – headquartered in Moscow – is expanding rapidly with different services, although its portfolio, which is similarly to Google or Yahoo, already covers a wide spectrum.

The Yandex cloud service offers its customers 10GB of storage space for free; this can be expanded by a further 10GB by recruiting new members. There are three additional premium options for requirements beyond this amount. You will automatically receive the corresponding cloud storage if you register a free email address with Yandex. You can also register for the cloud service with Yandex without an email address  [8]. Unlike the services presented previously, the service sends a text message after registering rather than a confirmation email. You must therefore specify a mobile phone number when registering for the cloud service rather than an email address. After successfully registering, you use Yandex.Disk through an intuitive web interface (Figure 11).

Figure 11: Yandex.Disk can also share data via the web interface.

Just like MyDrive, Yandex transfers SSL-encrypted data, but it stores the data unencrypted on the cloud. Yandex.Disk also supports the WebDAV protocol, which allows you to mount the storage on the local filesystem at your own discretion. The company offers command-line clients for Linux systems that automatically perform data synchronization  [9]. An additional graphics tool integrates with the file manager for KDE  [10].

Click the Shared folders link at the top left in the main window of the Yandex.Disk web interface to share data with other users. In the dialog, you can select the folder you want to share after clicking the Create shared folder button. You can then specify who receives which rights to the folder by entering the recipient's email address and editing the share accordingly. Finally, click on the yellow Invite button to send the invitation to the recipient. The recipient then receives access to the shared folder by clicking on the corresponding link.

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