Log in ....Tribune

Monday, October 21, 2002

Online drive for storing data
Poonam Saini

THE Internet is the best tool for sharing information in todayís technological era. The World Wide Web has, to a great extent, changed approach towards doing things. It has revolutionised the way we thought, worked and communicated. With the advent of technologies, such as e-mail and instant messaging, disseminating information is now just a matter of seconds.

Over a period of time the Internet has also found its way into business activities and has become an extensively used tool for communication. As a result, a number of new roles have come into existence. One such role is that of "mobile professionals." As the term suggests, information sharing is the most important task for all mobile professionals. Their job is not only limited to the use of e-mail and instant messaging to disburse information. The job requirement could also be disseminating heavy chunks of information in no time.

However, at times we may find certain limitations in the communication channel that could hamper the progress. For example, most ISPs donít provide e-mail quota more than 5 MB. Even if you have paid extra for 10 MB size account, sending file this size could clog your network for good few hours. Secondly, since most ISPs donít provide consistent upload-download speed, you canít have a reliable file transfer using any messaging service. Still, if you fancy your chances, perhaps you may find the process getting interrupted at least a dozen times before finally reaching the destination.

So can you think of a place on the Web where you can keep the files and other critical business data and access it from anywhere you want?

A concrete answer to this question is the virtual drive. Virtual drive, also known as X-drive, is a concept of online file storage. This means that you have a drive on the Web, dedicated to you totally, just like you have a drive on your PC.

There are two main advantages of having access to a virtual drive. First, you can easily store data over the allocated Web space, as well as retrieve it from any computer in the world. Second, you can share the stored data with anybody you like.

Web drives allow putting data safely with secure rights. Letís say, you create a 6 MB file on the home computer. But due to lack of privacy on the system, you are reluctant to keep it there. In that case, you may use Web drive to hold this private data.

These drives also let you work on the same file from different PCs situated at different places. Suppose you start working on an assignment from the home PC. After partially completing the file, letís say 4 MB, you decide it requires some additional data that can only be made available from the office PC. You can simply port the partially done file on the Web drive. And on the next day at office, you just have to retrieve the file and start working on it. After completing the file upload it back so that a few days later, you could even access the same file from outside the country.

Besides providing complete privacy these drives also offer a feature whereby you can make the desired date available to public so that everyone can view or access that file. This feature makes Net drives message distributing body. Suppose you want to send a full graphics-loaded birthday message to your friend but the size exceed the e-mail quota. All you have to do is port a song on the virtual drive account and mail him to access the message file from there. At present, there are about 40 free file storage providers available on the Net. Most services providers offer basic features: storage and access to important files and documents via Web browser ó anytime from anywhere. No matter what happens to the files on the local hard drive, youíll always have copies, safe and sound. Practically, any type of files can be stored with only few exceptions applied by several providers. Normally, it is utilised for documents, spreadsheets, photos, music and videos.

Space quota may vary according to individualís requirements. Some online space providers offer virtual drive account for free with defined limits, which normally ranges from 3 MB to 100 MB and is subject to conditions, set by service provider. In order to gain maximum space, a user has to fulfil certain condition. Mostly users are allowed to use the space of 30 MB. Only the service providers go beyond this limit.

However, if anyone wants to have space beyond given limit then he has to pay for that. The higher the requirement the more the charge.

Putting files onto the account is as easy as creating an attachment on the e-mail. You can store office documents, videos, MP3s and photos. Using this account, you can share stored files with family, friends and co-workers.

If you want to give access to someone, all you have to do is give him the required privileges to access the data. This is accomplished at the time when you create new folder or load a file into your account. After loading the file, the user can also specify which person is entitled to access this file.