Symform, a once business-oriented cloud storage provider, announced today that it is giving general consumers 100GB of online storage for free. Considering the fact that most other online storage services offer just 2GB or 3GB for free, this seems like a great deal.
However, as there's no such thing as a free lunch, this huge amount of online storage comes with a possibly even larger catch. In order to get the "free" online storage, you must contribute 150GB of your local storage on a device that's always on a broadband-connected home network.
This is because Symform, as it claims, is the first company to break away from the traditional data center cloud storage model. Instead it uses a technology called RAID-96 to geographically distribute, encrypt, and store its data.
In layman's terms, this means data stored via Symform's service is divided and replicated into 96 pieces that are distributed to 96 different participating computers over the Internet. In addition to providing redundancy, the company says that this allows for uploads and downloads up to 50 times faster than you get using a centralized data center. According to Symform, data distributed and stored on participating computers is encrypted and therefore can't be accessed by local users but only those who have the authorization.
The idea of trading local storage for online storage is not new and has been offered by Wuala for a long time. While this is cool, it's definitely not free. Especially when you have to trade 150GB of local storage for just 100GB of online storage. On top of giving up local storage, users will also have to contribute in terms of equipment, electricity, and the broadband connection, which may come with a monthly data cap.
For those who need a large amount of online storage and can live with the drawbacks, however, Symform's offer is available here.