updated 06:00 pm EST, Wed March 5, 2008
First Look: Xdrive
With inexpensive CDs/DVDs and external hard disks, it's easy to back up your data. The problem is backing up your data is worthless if a catastrophe wipes out your hard disk and any backups stored nearby. To protect your data, you need to back it up and store it in a physical location far away from your computer. Corporations have been using such offsite storage options for years and now everyone can enjoy similar offsite storage using Xdrive. A subsidiary of America Online, Xdrive gives everyone the ability to back up and store their data over the Internet. Now if something happens to your computer, you can recover your crucial files off Xdrive and get back to work again.
You can choose three Xdrive storage payment plans. For $99.50 a year, you can get 50GB of storage or if you prefer, get that same 50GB of storage but pay $9.95 a month. If you'd rather not pay anything, you can get 5GB of storage absolutely free.
To transfer files between your computer and Xdrive, you can use their Xdrive Desktop Lite program, built using Adobe's new cross-platform AIR technology. Running Desktop Lite displays two vertically stacked windows where the top window displays the contents of Xdrive and the bottom window displays the contents of your computer. By dragging and dropping files or folders between the bottom window and the top window, you can transfer files from your computer to Xdrive and vice versa.
Perhaps due to Adobe's AIR technology being so new, the Xdrive Desktop Lite program tends to run slowly. After dragging and dropping a file or a folder, it may take a few seconds before the program responds and starts the file transfer process. Until then, you may be left wondering if the program is working at all.
Another curious flaw seems to be Xdrive Desktop Lite's inability to copy folders inside of other folders. Copying a folder to Xdrive appears to copy only files; any folders stored in the copied folder don't get copied at all. If you want to copy folders buried inside of other folders, you must drag and drop each folder individually. If you have large numbers of folders buried inside other folders, this inconvenience of having to copy folders separately could make you consider using other off-site storage options instead.
After you've stored files and folders on Xdrive, you can share them with others. Xdrive supplies a link that you can copy and give to others, allowing them access to specific folders or individual files. Such access can be limited to read-only access (to prevent others from modifying or deleting your files) or full read and write access for group collaboration.
Xdrive's free offer of 5GB of storage is something nobody should turn down. To sign up for your free Xdrive 5GB account, just use your AIM screen name or AOL e-mail address. If you don't have either one, just create an AIM or AOL account at no cost.
Although Xdrive makes offsite storage available to everyone, the Xdrive Desktop Lite program's sluggishness and inability to copy embedded folders may tarnish this free 5GB storage offer. Despite this problem, 5GB of free offsite storage is an offer that's hard for anyone to pass up.