XDrive – Free Disk Space From AOL

After signing up for the AOL e-mail I was looking around the AOL website. Now that they’ve been losing customers they seem to have adopted the business model of dropping their price to free but making up for it in volume. They’ve gone Google and will try to make it up in advertising revenue.

Anyway, one thing that caught my eye was their XDrive offering. It’s 5GB of disk space for free. They didn’t want any additional info beyond what they collected for the e-mail account so I signed up for it. I can always use 5GB of disk space and may actually be suitable backup solution in some cases. The agreement does have a vague clause about terminating accounts if they exceed normal bandwidth usage. They say they’ll base this on typical usage but there’s no clear definition. Nothing else in the agreement jumps out as a potential problem (They do say they aren’t responsible for any liability, but this is free.)

It has a Windows only “XDrive Desktop” which claims to allow easy file management and scheduled backups. I download(10.9MB) and install the XDrive Desktop on my Windows PC. The install is straightforward but requires a reboot.

While it’s possible to share files, it is limited. Anyone you want to share files with needs to have a XDrive account in order to access the shared items.

On a Windows PC the XDrive Desktop maps a drive and the drive appears in Windows Explorer.

It works on Mac OS X and Linux through the browser and using Java.

Will I Use It?

I’ve always been hesitant when storing things on the web. Even the back up I do to .MAC is first encrypted so if someone gets access there’s additional protection. So I don’t see this as a backup solution for my critical data, but it will have a place.

Yahoo is my ISP and with the account I get 1GB of disk space they call a “Briefcase”. I use this to store copies of software I’ve bought or otherwise may need when rebuilding my PC. I’ll probably use XDrive in the same way. If I was willing to let it have access to my PC through Java XDrive has an “accelerator” option that allows uploading directories and multiple files. Without it, it works like Yahoo Briefcase, picking files one at a time (multiple files can be picked before starting the upload, but the picking is file by file).

I’ll be looking at it as a possible backup solution but I’ll have to look around to see what else is out there. Broadband upload speed are typically slow (compared to download) so backing up large amounts of data may take time. XDrive says it will do block level backups which means it would only send the parts of the file that changed. Depending on the types of files being backed up this may help shorten upload times.

As a quick test I transferred the screen shots for this article using XDrive. On my Windows PC I simply dragged the files in Windows Explorer. On my Mac I opened the XDrive site in my browser. I selected the directory with the files and clicked download. All the files were zipped and downloaded in one file which I could then unzip. (XDrive has links to Stuffit Expander for Mac and Winzip for Windows if they’re needed.)

The XDrive website is www.xdrive.com.

Here are some sample screen shots:
This is the XDrive Desktop Backup Basic options screen (Windows Only)

From XDrive

This is the XDrive Desktop Backup Advanced options screen (Windows Only)

From XDrive

The is the XDrive Desktop XDrive screen (Windows only). It’s used to manage the drive connection on the PC.

From XDrive

This is the XDrive screen when running XDrive from a browser.

From XDrive