Blog Post

5 GB of online storage doubles as a network drive

AolxdrivewindowsexplorerLast week Microsoft upped the online SkyDrive storage capacity to 5 GB and several folks asked if you could mount the space like a network drive. Unfortunately, that functionality doesn’t exist yet although I suspect that will change in the future… just a guess, of course. Xdrive from AOL (yes, AOL!) offers the same amount of free storage and PC users actually can use the space as a virtual hard drive by using the Xdrive Desktop client software. You can drag & drop files to it, schedule backups and more with the full client. I just installed it on an XP machine and was able to connect and map a virtual drive that appears like a network drive in Windows Explorer. I called it my "J:" drive… too bad I can’t have two accounts so I could have a "J:" and a "K:" drive…

Folks that just want simple to access anywhere free storage can just use the new Xdrive Desktop Lite application, which is built on the Adobe AIR platform, making it usable across PC, Mac and Linux systems. Of course, a good browser will offer much of the same, but this gives you several interface choices to access your Xdrive. There’s no credit card needed to sign up for the free 5GB of space but if you need more capacity, 50 GB will set you back $9.95 a month. The cloud ain’t cheap people! ;)

17 Responses to “5 GB of online storage doubles as a network drive”

  1. Quoting http://www.xdrive.com/ :

    “Important Service Announcement to all Xdrive Users:

    On January 12, 2009, AOL will permanently close
    the Xdrive Online Storage Service.

    We sincerely appreciate your being an Xdrive customer and want to make sure you are aware of the options you have for retrieving your files.

    To make this transition as easy as possible, you can use the following download options to retieve your files:

    * Create a zip file of your entire Xdrive account for easy download;and/or
    * Download selected files through the standard Xdrive Web or Xdrive Desktop Client

    You may choose any combination of these options, based on your needs, by returning to this site at any time prior to January 12, 2009.

    Please be sure that you have retrieved your files by January 12, 2009. After this date, the Xdrive site will no longer be accessible and any remaining files will be permanently deleted.

    For more information about the closing of Xdrive or on how to retrieve your files, please visit our frequently asked questions area.”

    Kaput. Back to Skydrive and Gmail Space hack.

  2. Can’t even sign up for it, it seems. I’ve been getting the following the last couple days. Now that I’ve read these comments, I’m glad it failed :(.

    We’re Sorry.

    We’re temporarily unable to complete your order.

    “We look forward to welcoming you as a future member of Xdrive, but are unable to complete your order at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience.

    Please visit us again at http://www.xdrive.com to complete your order at a later time.
    Thank you.”

  3. Another significant problem with SkyDrive is that it isn’t available everywhere — like Germany, for example. If you upload files in the US and then go on a business trip to Germany, you get an error message that says “Not available in your region.” I’m not sure why it would matter where I am when I try to access my files. That kind of makes it useless for storing files “in the cloud” so that you can access them while travelling.

    New “regions” are slowly being added, but for now this lack of worldwide access severely limits its usefulness — for me, anyway.

  4. The sharing feature does not work unless the person you want to share a folder with also has an Xdrive account. This sort of defeats the main reason for having a share in the cloud.

  5. David, in the Xdrive desktop client, there’s an option to specify a drive letter. I just chose “J:” from the drop-down and then opened Windows Explorer in XP. You do need to hit the Connect button on their desktop client first if I recall correctly.

  6. X drive sucked back then, X drive suck now. I installed it, gave it enough days and tries, and finally uninstalled it for good. It only works if you try to backup files in small chunks (worthless). I do not have a fastest DSL so your experience may differ but apparently it’s not worth the time and effort.

    MS Skydrive is also worthless right now since it doesn’t even have basic features like copying folders.

  7. Has anyone been able to use this to share/send files? I had used Xdrive in the past for this, but recently I have not been able to use the share or send file. I keep getting “An error occurred that does not have a formatted message. String index out of range: -xx” where xx is a number that is different everytime I try this. This is just a bundle of helpful information isn’t it?

    I’ve updated Java and have it enabled. My browser passes the compatability test on the support page.

    I guess for now, its back to box.net and ibackup.com

  8. Kevin Hughes

    @Steve: Sounds like an AOL product!

    I was just wondering whether these could be used in conjunction with something like onenote.
    Have you files sync’ed with a cloud drive and access them on any machine with the right software, no need for sharepoint etc.

    Just a thought

  9. My personal experience with X Drive was that it was always VERY slow. It just became an exercise in frustration. Perhaps is has become better as I have not used it in probably six months.

    Conceptually, it’s exactly what you would want. It integrates as a mapped drive and the ability to setup incremental backups of key files is extremely valuable. 5 GBs for free was always remarkable in my opinion. It really came down to the lack of quality in the product far more than anything else.

    To add insult to injury, when I uninstalled it on two computers, the residual files it left behind caused errors on every startup. What a mess.

  10. Kevin,

    Let us know how well the xdrive client works for you. I find that it chokes up on me all the time and therefore rely on the slower, more cumbersome, but more reliable web interface.

    Maybe I’m doing something wrong?

    -Tony

  11. Valid point Paul, but my Asus Eee PC has 4 GB of storage for example, most of which is used by the operating system. I’m always connected with it, so 5 GB to store docs, files, pics, etc… comes in handy without the need to worry about carrying (or losing) a flash media card. Plus most of these services allow you to share files with people you provide access to. I hear what you’re saying from a backup perspective, but these online storage services do fit needs other than backup solutions. Are they for everyone? No, but that doesn’t mean that some folks won’t find value in the free storage capacity.

  12. I don’t understand these services. In an age where the 160 GB hard drive is standard kit in any new laptop, who cares about an additional 5 gig that are accessible through the bottleneck of an internet connection?

    If it’s backup you want, then get a good backup solution, like Mozy for example which gives you UNLIMITED volume for a measly five bucks per month and some really great and sophisticated backup software to go with it.

    But come on, a 5 GB drive in the cloud? WHAT FOR?

  13. Why not just go down the route of using Amazon’s S3? It’s cheaper and there are several clients out there that you can use to access S3, including JungleDisk. JD lets you mount the drive as a WebDav drive on Windows, OSX, and Linux, whatever your requirements. I keep a bunch of files (around 25 gig) up on S3 and can access them from almost anywhere.

    Nitin