Last week I posted two articles “No more USB access to public computers” and “More reasons for online storage“.  In the first article I listed 8 online storage service providers that had a free storage option.   I didn’t receive any other suggestions so I will be reviewing the options in that list.

The storage options:

  • SugarSync
  • Mozy
  • Box.net
  • FilesAnywhere
  • ADrive
  • GoogleDocs
  • OfficeLive
  • SkyDrive

Acid Test:  A sure test, giving an incontestable result.

When I first thought about the different kinds of tests I could do.  It all came down to what basic functionality would everybody expect from online storage without question.  If a solution didn’t pass this test, then it did not advance to the next round of tests.

Here’s the Acid Test (Basic user expectations):

  1. Browser based
    • Software should not be required to upload/download files
  2. Basic document handling
    • Browser based document upload
    • Browser based document download
    • View document
    • Send document via email
  3. User Collaboration
    • Share files
    • Share folders
  4. Basic Publishing functionality
    • Make a file visible on the internet without logging in

My goal was to verify each service with the Acid Test:

  1. Create an account (requires email)
  2. Login to service
  3. Upload a file
  4. Download a file
  5. Email the file
  6. Make file public
  7. Logout of the service
  8. Access the public file without login

I didn’t grade these storage options yet.  I just wanted to make sure the online storage services passed the Acid Test.  If they passed, then I would go into further detail adding scores and comments.

Practically all of the free services passed and  only 1 failed the Acid Test.  I really tried to give every service a chance.  If the service asked for software to be installed, I would cancel the install.  I wanted to see if the user interface was good enough to work without the desktop software installed.  The software the service was trying to install was a desktop component that interacted with the browser.

The only service that absolutely required a software install was Mozy.  All the other services survived nicely without the desktop application.  Since Mozy did not pass the Acid Test it was disqualified for this contest.

NOTE:  The reason the desktop software cannot be installed is that the service must support a user’s online storage needs entirely via browser.  There’s nothing wrong with providing the desktop software as an option for backups, it just can’t be required for functionality.  

For my next post, I plan to do a comparison of the surviving online storage options.