Has OmniDrive joined the deadpool?

One of a number of cheap online storage services — a group that includes Carbonite, Mozy and JungleDisk (which uses Amazon’s S3 storage system) — Omnidrive.com appears to be having significant problems, and according to some reports may be heading for the deadpool. Some users are reporting that they haven’t been able to access the service, and both the website and the official support forum site produce a 404 error. So does the blog of founder and CEO Nik Cubrilovic.

Read/Write Web wrote about the speculation in mid-December (I somehow missed it), and Cubrilovic responded that everything was fine — and not just fine, but great. The company was not only profitable but had gotten more funding, he said, and was coming out with a new release soon. Then the former chief technology officer for OmniDrive responded to the Read/Write post, however — and said exactly the opposite.

Not only did the former CTO say that the company had gone dark — “There is no one working at Omnidrive today. No one is supporting the customers. No one is developing version 1.0. The Wollongong and Sydney offices have been vacated” — but he said he hadn’t been paid for the work he did between April and August, and that he believed the money the company claimed to have probably never existed.

On the surface, this sounds a lot like the story of Sam Sethi and Blognation. I’ve sent Nik an email to see if he can tell me what’s going on. If anyone else knows anything, let me know in the comments. Regardless of what’s going on with Omnidrive, it’s wise to think about the possible downside of storing data in “the cloud,” as Webware notes.

Update:

A reader named Charlie says in the comments that he was able to login to Omnidrive, so the service itself seems to be operating, even if the website and support forums aren’t. And Simon East notes in a later comment that the website and forums are now back up — with a note from Nik saying there was a server outage and it took some time to get the site back up, but the service itself was never offline. No response to my email yet though.

More rumours about Google’s GDrive

As far as I can tell, the Wall Street Journal is peddling pretty much the same old rumours about the imminent arrival of Google’s storage tool or GDrive, as Duncan notes over at TechCrunch. The service “could let” users access documents from different computers, and “could be” released as early as a few months from now, according to sources. In other words, not much more than MG Siegler of ParisLemon had back in September.

That Google is coming out with something that offers storage is pretty much a fait accompli at this point (that’s French for “where the hell is it already”). The company already sells storage for GMail and Google Docs users who want more, and as I mentioned in a recent post here, Google has been letting Zoho get out in front on the offline document-editing front, using Google’s own Gears tool. It’s just a matter of time.

The first sightings of the GDrive in the wild came over a year ago from Corsin Carmichael, who spotted code referring to an internal storage system code-named Platypus (although according to the WSJ, inside Google they refer to it by the creative name “My Stuff”). And as this Microsoft blog notes, the software giant has had something similar — Windows Live SkyDrive — on the market since the summer, although it offers a measly one gigabyte of storage, which is pretty lame.

Of course there are other services such as Amazon’s S3, Box.net and Mozy, all of which I have experimented with and liked. The actual technology isn’t that complicated — unless of course you want to do live, multiple-user backups of open databases such as Outlook mail files, which the CEO of Mozy once described to me in an interview as a “non-trivial” task (that’s computer engineer talk for “really hard”).

So will Google just play catch-up, or is it planning to offer something extra? Will it be a game-changer for Microsoft, as Henry Blodget thinks it will? Geeks everywhere are waiting with bated breath.

YouTube boosts file size limits

One benefit of being owned by Google has to be the mind-boggling amounts of server space they have available, with something like 45 or 50 massive data centres located around the world and an estimated 500,000 servers or so in total (you can find them quite easily — look for the football-field sized building with no windows and a four-storey air-conditioning system attached, right next door to a big dam).

YouTube is rolling out some of the benefits of that arrangement: it just announced that uploaders can now use a multi-file upload tool, and the maximum file size has been boosted by a factor of ten to 1 gigabyte from 100 megabytes (although they still can’t be any longer than 10 minutes). Just think — that means high-definition versions of Soulja Boy’s new dance and the latest LOLcatz video are coming your way.

Amazon’s S3: Almost free storage

I remember awhile back coming across a post that Nick Carr did about someone who was using Amazon’s S3 remote storage service to do backups, and wound up getting a bill for a month’s worth of charges for hosting his data — and it was a single cent (the original post by Dave Gurnell is here, and Nick’s post is here). I thought at the time that it was pretty impressive, so I created an Amazon Web Services account.

I downloaded JungleDisk, a backup/storage app that acts as a front-end to S3. Then I uploaded a whole pile of photos as a test, which worked flawlessly, with my JungleDisk files and folders showing up as a network drive in Windows and a WebDav remote share in Linux and the usual drag-and-drop to add or move files and so on. A little while ago I got my first monthly bill from Amazon: 75 cents. Not bad.

Bring on the Google GDrive

As widely reported by just about everyone, Google has increased the amount of storage you get with Gmail — or rather, it has increased the rate at which the amount of storage is increasing. The amount of storage you can buy if you want to upgrade has also increased. Although he hasn’t posted on it yet (shame on you, Paul) I expect my friend Paul Kedrosky will be celebrating the news, seeing as how he has been asking for this for some time now.

It’s great that by January or so, we can expect to have 6 gigabytes of storage, according to some predictions. But still — and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful — why so little? After all, Microsoft’s new Windows Live Mail gives you 10 gigabytes, apparently, as more than one irritated Microsoft defender noted after Mashable and TechCrunch (which gave me a 500 internal server error earlier this morning) compared Gmail to Windows Live SkyDrive, which I’ll admit is kind of an apples-to-oranges comparison.

But seriously, where is the Gdrive we’ve heard so much about? As Nick Carr notes in this post, storage using services like Amazon’s S3 has effectively become too cheap to meter. Does that mean Amazon is better than you are, Google? Well does it?