We all store a lot of data, some more than others and I personally have a LOT of data to store. So much so that I have had my own personal NAS (Network Attached Storage) since 2003. Originally I used to work on a LOT of programming projects and would want to store the raw media files which unfortunately took up a lot of space. In time I decided to turn all my CDs into MP3 files and store them in a way that I could easily find all my music without having to find the correct CD for a specific song, or worrying about it skipping if the CD ever got scratched. At the time I thought I had a lot of CDs, I had a little over 100 of them, so making them digital just made sense to me.
Moving forward a few years later, as my DVD collection increased from the single copy of The Matrix that I got as my first DVD back in 1999, up to over 2000 DVDs (including boxsets). I ran into a very similar problem that I had with my music all those years ago, I decided that enough was enough and I needed to make my video collection digital. I increased the disk size of my NAS and began to convert all my DVDs into digital format, which literally took me years to do. I am sure if I dedicated larges amounts of time every single day to do process, it would have been a lot quicker, but I had a job to do and a life to live so could not put that all on hold just to rip all my DVDs. I did them whenever I had a bit of free time, and eventually got to all of them.
As time went by, I began to find that even though hard drives got bigger in size while prices remained roughly the same (more space, no extra cost), I began to notice how expensive it was to keep all of my data stored locally. I had a couple of hard drives fail on me, but thankfully I had a NAS running on a RAID so I just had to swap out the bad disks for good ones. This unfortunately costs me money though, even though my data was saved, I had to spend money which I was not expecting to spend at the time. I also began to notice as time went by that my electricity bill was higher simply because I had these data storage boxes running 24/7, simply because I appreciated being able to access my data remotely (playing my music at work from my home server for example). I needed a solution to this, and always thought that online storage systems needed to improve for this to become an option but the fact was that they were all too expensive for large amounts of data.
One day, I discovered Bitcasa, an online storage service stating that they would be, and I quote
killing the hard drive. For $99 per anum, they were offering unlimited online storage stating that they had some state of the art storage mechanisms de-duplicated all the data which meant the cost on them was less for the more people that used their service and stored the same files. They also claimed to have absolutely amazing security where none of their staff could access their customer’s files, so even if the government asked for access, they would be unable to give it even if they wanted to. I loved the idea of this, signed up to have a look around and see what it was like.
The service was extremely slow for both uploads and downloads, and there was endless bugs with their system, but I was one of their first customers and I thought that this was just an initial teething problem so it was to be expected. I used my programming experience to help them not only find bugs in their systems but also telling them what the cause was, and offering them the choices they had in resolving the issues. I was constantly helping them to fix their system, rather than giving up and leaving… this was perhaps the biggest mistake that I had ever made.
Over time, I managed to get all of my data up onto their servers, completely cleared out my NAS just as a couple more disks had failed on me. They had assured me that my service would be forever unlimited, the price would remain the same, and that I should never need a NAS again with thanks to their service. They had also promised that I would get access to their service from Linux once it was available, which would be a major help as I run Linux natively and have been running a Virtual Machine of Windows to get my data up onto their system.
A year goes by, they get a new CEO and Linux support but refuse to give it to their existing customers and anybody who wanted it would need to sign up to one of their new plans which were more than ten times the original plan prices! First promise broken. A few more months go by, their service’s upload mechanism for getting data onto their system improves way better than I could have hoped, so I was able to eventually get everything I owned up onto their systems - this was my second big mistake.
A couple weeks ago, Bitcasa send out an email to every existing customer stating that they have completely changed their pricing plans (again, astronomical prices), and that they would be removing their infinite data plans. On top of this, they had stated that all customers had a week to, and I quote
upgrade to a new plan or all of your data would be deleted. At this point in time I had a little over 8 terabytes of data living on their systems! I no longer owned a NAS as they told me that I would never need it again, so I had nowhere to store all my data even if I could download it all within the impossible time limit they forced upon everybody. Adding insult to injury though, their service was almost impossible to download data, this was a bug since day one, and one that I brought up with them on numerous occasions. Within the UK (and perhaps the whole of the EU), their service’s download speeds were slower than dialup internet and would often timeout, causing downloads to often fail. So getting my data from them was almost impossible.
I tried to reason with them on numerous occasions, stating that legally I had already prepaid for my service for another few months and if given this amount of time, I could potentially get my data off of them and would just leave. Unfortunately they did not care about their existing customers and just wanted them off of their systems, regardless of the numerous laws they were breaking in doing so.
I was at my wits end, until a friend had discovered two amazing services.
The first service was that Google Apps for Business was charging $10 per user per month (around £7) which included 1TB of Google Drive storage, however if your Business had 5 or more users, every user would then have unlimited storage with no limits. Google always care about their customers, and always honor old pricing plans so this looked like an absolute miracle. I knew they used information based on what I stored on their systems to provide me with targeted advertisements, and a lot of people are unhappy with this type of behavior, but personally it has never bothered me. If I had anything that I feared the world from seeing, I wouldn’t put it online, it was that simple. So my friend and I created a business account with 5 users, split the cost with him and that solved a problem we both had.
The second service was MultCloud (www.multcloud.com), a completely free service which would connect to practically every major cloud storage provider, and allow you to copy/move files between the services. The absolute best part was that I did not need to keep my computer online whilst it did all of this, I could just login, queue up a load of files to move, logout and then leave it to do it’s magic. I could then log back into the service a few hours later, view the progress, queue up a few more files, and then leave it alone again. With the exception of my files that were over 2GB in size, I managed to save all of my data, and it was all thanks to MultCloud.
So in closing, I never did get all of my data back from Bitcasa, they broke a number of laws, didn’t care about their customers’ rights, and only seemed to care about offering a terrible service that just never worked. I trusted them when I really should not have, and I lost valuable data as a result. I am not a spiteful person normally, I seriously do hope that their company goes under and pulls their idiot of a CEO down with it. Although I may never need to use MultCloud again now that my data is all securely stored in a service I can trust (Google), I will always recommend them to everybody. It’s free, stable and works beautifully!