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Amazon Goes After Dropbox, Google, Microsoft with Unlimited Cloud Drive Storage (techcrunch.com)
277 points by uptown on Mar 26, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 247 comments

"We may terminate the Agreement or restrict, suspend or terminate your use of the Service at our discretion without notice at any time, including if we determine that your use violates the Agreement, is improper, substantially exceeds or differs from normal use by other users, or otherwise involves fraud or misuse of the Service or harms our interests or those of another user of the Service."


Dropbox ToS:

"We also reserve the right to suspend or end the Services at any time at our discretion and without notice. "


And Google's:

> We are constantly changing and improving our Services. We may add or remove functionalities or features, and we may suspend or stop a Service altogether... Google may also stop providing Services to you, or add or create new limits to our Services at any time.

http://www.google.com/policies/terms/ (that's where a link to Terms of Service from Google Drive page at takes https://support.google.com/drive/answer/2450387?hl=en you, those general Google ToS)

For better or for worse, nearly every ToS you will see anywhere includes a provision like this.

Of course. Because what is the alternative? "We guarantee that we will operate this service for the next 1000 years, regardless of global warming, pestilence, famine and war?"

Nothing lives forever. No company lives forever. Amazon, Microsoft, Google...may all go away some day.

And, of course, they may change their business focus and decide to go a different way. I would expect any of them to provide notice and let people get their data out...but one should always assume that a service will go away at some point.

Yeah, there's really two things here. 1) Shutting down the service entirely; 2) shutting off _your_ account in particular. Or really, also 3) Changing the terms (for instance deciding it's not really 'unlimited' after all).

You're talking about 1, and sure, there's not a lot you can do.

As far as 2 and 3, back in the day, when you paid for a service you might sign a contract, and they could not simply decide to cancel your service in the middle of the contract because they didn't like you, for reasons not covered by the contract.

Of course, that also assumes that they wouldn't just put "and by the way we can cancel your service at any time for any reason including just because we don't like you" in the contract, or that you would have some kind of negotiating power to demand different terms or go with a competitor with better terms. But obviously they _would_ just put that in the contract too, as they did in the ToS which is theoretically a contract too.

And there's really another thing too specific to the Amazon terms posted above. They are advertising the service as 'unlimited', but then the terms say they can shut you off if your use "substantially exceeds or differs from normal use by other users." That doesn't really sound "unlimited" exactly, does it? I don't know if putting "Ha ha not really unlimited" in the ToS would protect them from such things as this: https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/10/ftc-s...

We also reserve the right to suspend or end the Services at any time at our discretion and without notice.


So I guess the conclusion is that no mainstream cloud service is to be relied on.

The conclusion should be that unless you're paying for an SLA, you aren't going to get an SLA.

Realistically, you can't rely on anything. You should always have independent redundancy for stuff that's really important.

Can't your hosting provider terminate your contract?

I always thought Tor hidden services make a great way to host your own cloud. Not only can you host on your own hardware without messing with dns, isp reps, and router settings, but you get privacy features for free.

IMO, I think local hosting is the primary usecase the Tor project should be advertizing.

Hidden services are not a primary concern of the Tor Project, or a primary use of the Tor network. They are a novel way of using a system designed for anonymous and censorship-resistant communications.

Does no one have their own physical box any more?

Doesn't solve the problem. The essential nature of the problem is that your data can disappear under circumstances that you can't control, be it because the server died, problems with the host, they're going away entirely, they decide they don't like you anymore. To fix all permutations of this problem, you have to replicate, host the data in multiple physical places.

It introduces another problem, managing the replication and testing to make sure it's working, but if the data you're trying to protect is important enough, you devote the resources.

Looked at in this light, hosting your own physical box is less useful than using two separate online services. You still have the management and testing overhead either way, but with your own physical box you also have to maintain and manage that resource too. That only makes sense if you have existing infrastructure you can plug into, and sometimes it doesn't even make sense then.

Or vice versa... all the solutions you mentioned are liabilities if given enough thought. The cost of hosting in multiple places coupled with the very real possibility of other circumstances not in your control are enough to make the argument to host your own stuff a viable solution. The cognitive overhead of learning the api, writing tools to automate processes, testing and so on are not free in either time or money.

I don't think a clear cut winner emerges in all cases. Cloud vs. DIY is situationally dependent and requires a great deal of deliberation. I think the pendulum will swing between cloud and DIY for a long time... With proponents of each making awesome cases to use either one.

When it comes to risk, honestly, most people and companies are their own worst enemies, much much more inclined to hose themselves than, say, Linode or Amazon would.

The cost of using multiple solutions should be negligible compared to the cost of losing the information. If it isn't, then store it wherever, and if you lose it, so what.

A competent developer should not have to spend a lot of time learning an api, automating the process or testing the automation. If you don't have a competent developer, you should just use COTS. If you have a developer that complains about the time these tasks take, you don't have a developer, you have a technical handyman. In which case you can't engineer anything and should just use COTS, because that's all he'll realistically be able to handle anyway. If the developer is you and you can't afford to waste your time engineering your infrastructure, then yours is not a technology company and again should just use COTS.

Your operating profits should support the cost of your engineering, including the salary of a competent developer, this will typically dwarf your hosting costs. If they don't then you don't have a real business and need to spend more time figuring out how you're going to make money and less time on the technology.

If you're storing and using big data, and currently using a cloud provider, then your roadmap should include a plan for eventual self-hosting, as that's one of the few areas where self-hosting still makes sense, as costs can diverge very quickly. It's not big data unless building your own Backblaze storage pod is a viable option.

For all other applications, self-hosting can quickly become a boondoggle, unless you have competent systems administration, the cost of which will again dwarf your hosting costs. If you do not have competent systems administration, and you are owning and managing systems, then your business is a disaster waiting to happen. If the hard drives fill up on your home-built server, you will have downtime until you can figure it out and fix it. You will not have your hosting company's skilled customer support team, which handles the common cases that trip people up all the time, at your disposal.

Any time you touch the machine do do anything other than deployments, you run the risk of breaking something important. If your development is not competent either, then you run the risk of having your hygienic development process dirtied by, say, someone working directly on the production server. The problems caused by this are insidious and can take up time and attention that is better used pushing your business forward.

> Doesn't solve the problem.

My post was a reply to:

> Can't your hosting provider terminate your contract?

It does solve that problem exactly.

I didn't propose a single box as a complete backup solution.

I worked for a company that had hundreds of boxes held hostage after a colo attempted to dramatically raise prices mid contract. The company eventually sent a bunch of employees with vans over a weekend to the city the colo was in to physically move the machines and reconstitute ~20 racks in a different colo.

Does no one have their own boxes on their own site any more?

Getting serious power / ac / battery switch-over / TB/s internet is a lot of work, hence datacenters. If you're under thousands of boxes, it's not cost effective.

Unless you also have your own physical network infrastructure connecting all the things it needs to connect to, and also control all those endpoints, having your own physical server doesn't solve the problem, it just pushes it around a bit.

Use multiple services and replicate between them.

May as well use MaidSafe or Freenet

Well, these big services probably close down as often as an end user sees their hard drive fail.

This is not about a company closing down. Its about a company deciding to close their services for a user, arbitrarily, at their own discretion. Files you upload can be permanent deleted, at any time, at the whim of the service provider or any of their employees. You have no rights and no appeals.

The difference is that a user doesn't feel like just using his computer normally gives him any backup. But if his folder is inside Dropbox, he might be lulled into a sense of comfort since he thinks of Dropbox as a kind of backup[1]. So if he uses Dropbox instead of just using his plain old computer (hard drive), then he might start to get more careless than when he didn't feel that he had a safety net.

[1] Though personally I would disagree.

Amazon may actually be fair and enforce this legitimately, but I was once burned badly by the promise of "Unlimited Storage." Bluehost offered this, always with an asterisk*, and I assumed it was legitimate. So I tried to upload 20 gigs of home videos and family photos to share with my relatives.

Next thing I know, all of my sites are 404ing, and when I call Bluehost, the tech tells me they shut down my hosting service because I was "abusing their unlimited storage." Then they pointed me to the asterisk that says unlimited storage isn't really unlimited and is whatever they feel like it should be on a case-by-case basis. Then I had to sit there on the phone with them and delete all my recently uploaded files before they would put my websites back online.

caveat emptor

Had this happen to me in the 90's with a dial up internet provider. The ISP said it was unlimited usage. So we had a second phone line in our house online a big chunk of the day. Eventually we got a bill with a very large "dedicated line fee" because we were dialed in too much. After enough complaining they removed the charge, but it was a good lesson that "unlimited" services backed by a finite resource are never truly unlimited.

"I reserve the right to just crash and lose all your stuff."

-- Your hard drive

"Me too."

-- Your backup hard drive

"I also reserve the right to be stolen, dropped, burned up in a fire, or thrown out by your partner during a cleaning jag."

-- Your hard drives in general

"We sold you unlimited. But if you go over the secret threshold, we'll delete your account." -- Amazon

This is why I hate "unlimited" in general. It's not unlimited, just tell me what the damn limit is.

The key to 'unlimited' services is that the rate at which most users accrue stored data is slower than the rate at which storage becomes cheaper.

That is to say, in the time it takes for your data to go from 1 GB to 10 GB, their cost-per-GB has gone down by >90%.

Unlimited services put the user in an antagonistic relationship with the provider:


"...if we determine that your use [...] substantially exceeds or differs from normal use by other users..."

Why even bother putting "Unlimited" if they are just going to kick off the power users?

It just allows them the ability to kick off abusers. Someone is going to write a script to endlessly upload nonsense data to Amazon just because they can.

Well, that's the whole point of "Unlimited", right? I mean, it's not the same "X GB/TB of Data" than "Unlimited".

If you go for "Unlimited" it has to be really unlimited, otherwise you're lying.

By that logic, nothing can be unlimited. There are a finite number of computers, hard drives, heck even atoms in the world and therefore no company could offer an unlimited amount of storage.

That logic is not what we're measuring against. The logic we're measuring against is the existence of a number, which represents some amount of data stored which, when reached, will result in the termination of your account.

"Unlimited" service if honestly sold and serviced, would mean that this number does not exist. You could keep throwing data at them and they could keep storing it.

What is that number? Is it low? Is it high? Only Amazon knows, but in the meantime, they're pretending that this number does not exist.

False. Advertising.

What makes you think the number exists and this isn't just a standard "don't be an asshole" clause to protect Amazon from someone who abuses the system?

Here's the thing - when you throw around words like "unlimited", "abuse" gets really hard to define. Some guy hosting his warez collection for all his scene friends? Obviously abuse.

Me uploading my >1TB music/video collection for backup purposes that will only ever be touched by me? I honestly don't know, and knowing the way accounts are integrated, I'd rather not find out the hard way.

Logically, the acceptable amount they "want" you to store is obviously north of 5GB, since you get that for free by being a Prime member and you're paying for an upgrade, but I want to know where the line is, instead of playing this "it doesn't exist (but actually does and you're dead if you cross it)" charade.

It's much like companies having "unlimited vacation", where the net effect is that nobody takes any due to uncertainty.

How does my taking a company's advertising at its word and treating the unlimited service they provide as unlimited make me an asshole?

The real problem is these companies want to eat their cake and have it too. They want to be able to advertise as unlimited, but not actually provide unlimited.

Before, it was "unlimited photos." That makes sense: they'd remove anything that's not a photo. It's limited by kind, not by size.

Now it's "your files, documents, etc." That's still a limitation by kind—the emphasis is on the "your." You can store as much data that you honestly, personally created for your own personal use, as you like.

Random terabyte-sized binaries? Not your personal data. Someone else's files? Not your personal data. Automated logs? Not your personal data.

But if you manage to create a few petabytes of vacation images? Sure, go right ahead.

My fully legal music collection curated over the past decade or so? Absolutely my personal data. Backups of my home server that run, among other things, personal websites, source code repos, and a home automation system? Absolutely my personal data. How about paperwork from the doctor's office? I'd like to see you argue that isn't "my personal data" despite not being created by me.

What if it's all encrypted? Actually, scratch that, if I'm putting any substantial data in a random cloud service, it's going to be encrypted, period. Amazon gets incompressible, non-dedupable random bytes and nothing else.

What this all boils down to is that your definition is arbitrary and illogical, and has no support from the documentation, either friendly or legal, which leaves us right where we started:

Nobody knows how much they can put on this service, and the word "unlimited" is still false advertising.

You're imagining that there is a limit imposed by a technical measure that can detect accounts that are, by strict definition, breaking the terms of the agreement. And since they are not telling you the limit encoded by this technical measure, the service is not unlimited.

There is no technical measure.

Instead, there is a heuristic that makes them curious about the purpose to which you are putting all your data usage. They then have the right to ask you to show them what kind of stuff you're putting in the cloud drive, at which point they can apply the actual measure—a human, ontological, qualitative measure of the "color" of your bits.

This is how the legal system works; this is how contracts work. Their provisions don't have to be interpretable by a dumb algorithm; they can be AGI-complete to solve for. This is why the court system has both police (instructed in an simple-but-false-positive-generating heuristic), and judges and/or juries (who are expected to then apply the human-deliberation-requiring "true algorithm" to screen out the false positives.)

Picture a savings account that holds "unlimited money." Does this mean that it holds money derived from tax fraud? No. Does this mean that it holds money used to create a correspondent deposit account for a wire-transfer service? No. These facts are intuitively obvious. Why doesn't it do these things? Because an account that does these things ceases to be a savings account per se. In the former case, it becomes an illegal conspiracy if they knowingly continue to serve you. In the latter case, it becomes a business account requiring strict money-service auditing. In both cases, if the bank detects suspicious activity (i.e. pushing millions of dollars around every day in said account), they have every right to ask you to what purpose you're putting their service—and to take the service away if you refuse to answer.

They then have the right to ask you to show them what kind of stuff you're putting in the cloud drive

"Show" them? As previously mentioned, I'm encrypting my content. The nature of the data I'm story is both none of their business (I'm paying for unlimited data storage, not unlimited data storage of certain file types after all, per their advertising) and anyways it exposes them to further legal liability by way of asking that question.

> That logic is not what we're measuring against.

I'm not sure i follow, how is it not?

If you're saying that the word can be used, but you know in Amazon's case that there is a secret number, then they shouldn't use it.. that seems unfair. There will always be a number to unlimited, hopefully published. It's technically impossible for it to be unlimited.

I mean, let me reverse the situation, and ask what amount of data/m or data/lifetime (data == tb, pb, whatever) would fit the word - for you?

When I hear "unlimited", I think of "enough data that you will never have to worry about hitting a hard cap".

The definition of "enough data" is going to vary person to person. I saw this and my mind went immediately to backups, but that is not a trivial amount of data (terabytes+), and I am not prepared to risk my Amazon account over it.

That's the problem, here. By not knowing what the number is, you are unable to make correct decisions, and with the alternative being account termination, that is unacceptable. Amazon has constructed a situation in which it's unclear what exactly they're selling, but since we know in advance that there must be a limit, they are advertising falsely.

The moment they kick someone out for this, ToS or not, they will have a legitimate claim of action. And I will guarantee you the actual number is going to be smaller than you think.

> That's the problem, here. By not knowing what the number is, you are unable to make correct decisions, and with the alternative being account termination, that is unacceptable. Amazon has constructed a situation in which it's unclear what exactly they're selling, but since we know in advance that there must be a limit, they are advertising falsely.

I definitely agree there. Though, i think their ToS could solve this by stating it in the fine print - assuming of course they really wanted to market the "Unlimited" word.

I did have a thought though, it was be interesting if a service like this offered "true" unlimited storage. How? Well, you could limit the upload/download rate, and ensure that you are always willing to expand faster than each user can upload.

Would make for an interesting PR spin for Unlimited.. but with so many companies touting Unlimited, it clearly wouldn't be worth it. Just an interesting thought.

Store everything on PiFS[0].

Ahah just thought that maybe Amazon Glacier is implemented this way, and that's why it takes hours to recover a file.

[0] - https://github.com/philipl/pifs

I worked for a company that offered an unlimited X. A startup used us to host some of their X, and literally uploaded a thousand times more data than any other user.

That is why those things end up in contracts.

Someone is going to attempt to upload a pb of photos to amazon, and amazon is saying unlimited, but for personal usage (threshold quite possibly judged on a case-by-case basis), but doesn't include free storage of pbs of pictures.

At the end of the day, users need to be somewhat reasonable about what they expect from a $60/year service.

Which is why "Unlimited" is false advertising and shouldn't be used.

Nothing can be unlimited, except perhaps the capacity of marketing people to lie.

The main reason they don't want to do that is because their target market won't have any idea what X GB or Y TB means. Unlimited is their whole draw. I agree with the various sibling replies saying that it's not reasonable to expect them to allow truly unlimited storage. If you're storing petabytes, it's too much. But what they could easily do is simply include a clause in their TOS saying, "'Unlimited' in this context means up to 10TB" or whatever. Large enough that it would be effectively unlimited for any reasonable personal use, but still there's a cap to prevent true abuse. Much better than this, "There's actually a limit, but we won't tell you what it is," nonsense.

If we really want to be so pedantic then the term unlimited can never be used in this context due to the Bekenstein bound.

IMO the term is still a useful marketing short-hand that has come to mean "more than can reasonably expected unless you are purposefully trying to break the system", though cellular data providers in particular have done their part to cloud the issue by having "unlimited" terms that are really ridiculously limited.

Based on my dealings with Amazon so far I have every reason to believe their "unlimited" will be, if anything, overly generous.

They should call it Blockbuster-style Unlimited Storage.

Haven't we been through this enough already with cellphone plans, internet plans, etc.

If they can change the definition of "literally" in the dictionary they can probably change "unlimited" too.

In which case they should be legally barred from using the word 'unlimited'.

Because you have to put a limit somewhere before people start to exploit it.

If you need to put a limit, then don't claim it's unlimited. The problem is with the marketing, not the cap itself.

How do you market a variable cap where the actual value of the cap is a moving target depending on the circumstances?

That should not be our problem. If they find that difficult to communicate without lying (by calling it "unlimited"), perhaps they should set a non-variable cap.

That's something they are already presumably doing (it's what "fair usage" equates to), and isn't the problem.

The problem is making the marketing claim that this is "unlimited" when it's not. Call it "almost unlimited" or something similar and you're fine.

Market it based on the rules by which it moves.

That's reasonable. So is stating the limit instead of saying it doesn't exist.

But I get it. Marketing.

Do people not really understand it? Man half of HN is childish.

In which case it's not unlimited, in which case they're lying.

The first person who gets kicked off for this should file a false advertising suit. The marketing doesn't get to give you something which the ToS immediately takes away.

Maybe then these idiots (yes, idiots, because it takes an astounding lack of either morals or intelligence) will learn that lying to your customers is not okay.

Other "idiots" that are "lying" about "unlimited" and should be sued for "false advertising."





If they boot someone off for that particular reason, then yes, they absolutely should.

Again - explain to me how Verizon can be successfully sued for "unlimited" data (with throttling) and how these companies cannot with "unlimited" data (with undisclosed caps).

Explain how the two cases are substantially different, please. Just because Verizon are generally bastards and the companies above are generally not does not make false advertising okay or legal.

> explain to me how Verizon can be successfully sued for "unlimited" data

Just curious, but you say "successfully sued." I assume you mean they were sued, went to trial, and lost. I've actually tried looking this up, but I can't find this case. I've never really paid much attention to that, so forgive me.

Found it: http://www.fiercewireless.com/press-releases/verizon-wireles...

It was a settlement, rather than an outright adverse ruling, but the net effect was the same - someone had to tap them on the shoulder and tell them to cut it out, they did, and had to pay out for their trouble.

It's not lying, come on. 99.9% of people will see it as being unlimited. The person who decides to create a megaupload clone and use it to store petabytes worth of stuff that is constantly reading and writing is not what personal unlimited storage is meant for.

>It's not lying, come on.

Yes it is.

It is Unlimited^.

^Conditions and Restrictions apply.

That's still contradictory. Unlimited means "without limits", not "without limits except for these".

Verizon got smacked around for exactly this behavior a while ago (selling "unlimited" data, with throttling after some arbitrary cap). This is not substantially different.

Gmail used to show an ever-incrementing storage limit that was huge at the time, coupled with a message (when you were logged in) saying something like "you're using 5% of your limit".

If Amazon did something like that, they could call it "Practically Unlimited", go on about "you could store 10 thousand hours of high def video" or whatever so that normal users get the idea that it's plenty, and still give the actual limits to those who care.

Maybe the catch is that they want a limit that's high enough that practically nobody will hit it, but low enough that it isn't a net loss if someone does fill it up, otherwise their enemies could get a bunch of dummy accounts and fill them up. So they'd rather just maintain the right to preferential treatment.

Why are there "all you can eat" buffets if you can't really eat all that you might ever want to eat?

Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/1499/

...because "all you can eat" is not the same as "all you want to eat"

A buffet doesn't have to limit anyone's consumption to keep them at reasonable levels. Just like you can have broadband service with unlimited traffic. But storage is relatively expensive and can have quadratic cost if it's being constantly filled. It's a risky place to do actual "unlimited", and pretend "unlimited" is scummy.


Suspicion of what? Suspicion of actually taking them on their word when they advertise it as "unlimited"?


edit: why downvotes? OP asked what person would be suspicious of, the answer (right or wrong) is piracy.

My question was rhetorical. The problem is that their advertising is false - it is not unlimited when they put all kinds of restrictions on it. When their restrictions are unspecified it just makes matters worse, because it means I as a user has no recourse if they decide to shut down my account.

I'm a photography enthusiast and have more than 10tb of photos in raw format. Why would they get suspicious?

Drive has plans up to 30TB, so it would be disappointing if 10-20TB counted as unusual w.r.t 'unlimited' plan.

30TB on Drive is not even close to $5/mo, though, and is clearly for unusual cases.


Can anyone explain the logic behind Google Drive's pricing?

Google Drive with 30 TB storage is priced at $300 per month. But then you have Google Drive for Work with unlimited storage and is priced at $10 per user per month. Meaning that you can get 30 users with unlimited storage for the same price. Why in hell would anyone pay that?

It's $0.01/GB, the same price as their nearline cloud storage option. On the work side, they are pooling the capacity at the business level.

In an enterprise environment that I'm familiar with that has 100k users on a shared file store solution... Something like 10% of users use less that 1GB, the 99th percentile user uses 1TB, the 90th percentile users is something like 30GB.

Agreed, but the point still stands. 'Unlimited' does not change definition based on price point. Especially if competitors offer paid-for limits above your 'unlimited', wouldn't that literally be false advertising? (Note: I'm not saying Amazon is, just addressing the above interpretation of 'Power user'

I think it's a reasonable thing to say on their part, it allows them to deal with weird cases, or errors that upload thousands of copies of the same file or something. It's just coverall-contracting.

And, don't forget, allows them to ban users who actually take them up on "Unlimited" clause and then cost them more as they pay.

Is this different to any other cloud storage provider?

No, this is pretty typical in terms and conditions for cloud storage providers.

After foundation db leaving users in lurch, i'll be more careful while trusting other products.

I think the best practice is to use the following backup scheme:

    - 1st line: your computer's HD.
    - 2nd line: your SOHO NAS (very cheap these days, I have a 2 + 2 (mirror) TB NAS)
    - 3rd line: remote backup
The sensitive info should be encrypted at your computer, possibly with an encryption software that is easy to use everywhere (e.g. GPG).

I can't think of any real-life scenario where these 3 copies get destroyed simultaneously.

Now the real problem here is upstream. In 3rd world countries like mine (Greece), we have an avg upstream of less than 100 kb/s. So if my pictures/video/pc/whatever backup is > 50 GB, uploading it anywhere is a pain.

Not to totally derail this thread, but what do you recommend for SOHO NAS brands and models for this type of use case?

Anything that supports RAID1 would do for me. I had a ReadyNAS in the past but now I have a cheap 2-bay D-Link[1] with 2 + 2 TB of Western Digital HDs installed. The important thing is the PSU which should support both power supply AND ethernet[2]. This setup is for just family pictures, documents and some family video that is all backed up via TimeMachine. My code is on bitbucket/github. Some work documents are on Google drive too.

ReadyNAS are way better especially the ones with INTEL cpus, since they can transcode video on the fly for some media players that require such a thing (e.g. you could stream video to your iPhone/iPad). But these are expensive and I don't need this kind of functionality.

If I had more than 5-10 TB of data to backup then I'd for a custom tower, 8 GB of memory, Gbit Ethernet of course and + FreeNAS (ZFS + FreeBSD network stack).

[1] http://amzn.to/1CSugSb

[2] The ReadyNAS got toasted through ethernet by a thunder!!!

[3] http://www.freenas.org

All the major cloud providers include clauses like this. Service is at their discretion. There is no uptime agreement. No guarantee your files will be there an hour from now.

NEVER keep important things only on a cloud service with no backups and no guarantee of service.

I don't think they're going to enforce a "you went way over the storage other people tend to use" cap, the way ISPs tend to. S3 stores petabytes of stuff; they can eat your 50GB-per-day wastefulness without breaking a sweat.

I think it's more to cover the case where you figure out a way to build a business that stores data in this, instead of in S3. Especially the case where that business is, itself, a primarily data storage or backup business, so you're directly living off the margin between "capital-cost storage for you" and "linear-revenue storage sold to customers." Amazon does not want to kill S3's business model, just yet.

Why this quote is the highest ranking comment is beyond me...

How is that surprising?

Do you seriously expect a company to commit to not only guarantee that their service will be supported forever but on top of that, that they guarantee they won't shut you down regardless of what you store on their servers?

I have never come across a provider which doesn't have similar if not same ToS.

They could also lose your files without notice due to some major technical glitch.

Never rely 100% on anything.

The chances of one of the hip companies going out of business is much, much higher for the average user than the chances of Amazon terminating their service.

Amazon is not Google; I wouldn't put anything on Drive, given their history of product cancellations.

Given that Amazon managed to "disappear" Orwell e-books that people bought from Amazon, before backpedaling, in the face of outrage and the overwhelming irony, I'm not certain I'd view them as an exemplary actor. Regardless, bunches of people offering free storage allows for a pleasing redundancy.

I'm not sure it's quite that simple. A smaller company doing this may go out of business, but Amazon may decide to stop for any number of simpler reasons, including but not limited to:

- Deciding that this isn't a lucrative service

- Deciding that it's had the desired effect on competition and served it's purpose

- Releasing another service that they decide competes with this but is better

None of the cancellations have been of core services, which Drive definitely is.

> None of the cancellations have been of core services, which Drive definitely is.

What prevents them from redefining a core service to a non-core service on the go?

The amount of users. All the shutdowns, like Reader, have been very niche markets with orders of magnitude fewer users that Drive

I don't see how Dropbox wins this. Dropbox isn't going to be able to beat Amazon on price reselling Amazon's own cloud. Dropbox doesn't have any complements, like Google does with Google Docs and Gmail and Android or Microsoft has with Windows and Office or Amazon has with their MP3 marketplace and their Fire devices. It's the whole Jobs thing with 'you're a feature, not a product.'

At least for now, Dropbox wins with better software and features. Google drive has crapped out on me several times in the last years, forcing me to re-download everything from the server to my local box. I've also had cases where it couldn't resolve a sync issue and split a file into two versions. Neither of these has happened with dropbox.

Given Google's obvious prowess with servers, I'm actually amazed Google drive isn't better than it is.

Google is great with server stuff, but they've never been as good at end user software. (And they're awful at support across the board.) Witness all the folks that now regularly lose their Chrome extensions and data if they don't login to Google due to a new security feature.

I agree with you that DropBox is the gold standard in "it just works" but I have been using Google Drive for about a year now on a 1 TB plan consuming 850 GB of space without a single issue.

I store everything on there including JPGs, AVCHD videos, TrueCrypt volumes and every other kind of file type. Never had a single sync issue or slow sync speed.

OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) on the other hand... That constantly left filename.machinename split versions and the sync speed was uselessly slow.

I tried Google Drive about a year ago, and it appeared to choke on large files (I had a couple of 4Gb VMs), and pausing during attempted uploads always resulted in having to start over the upload from scratch. Still sticking with CrashPlan for now.

CrashPlan is a backup service and not directly comparable to standard file storage services.

Try https://www.insynchq.com/ . I am not affiliated with them whatsoever, but for work I am sorta forced to use Google Drive. And to my surprise I have found insync client to be far superior than google's own. Among many things, insync works beautifully on Linux.

One can easily argue though that, Google Drive may make a change which breaks insync - but for past year and half, I have had zero problems.

Insync seems nice, but I personally never did manage to get it to work. It just spent over a week "synchronizing" and not a single file appeared on my PC.

Indeed. I wanted to switch to Google Drive a couple of times because cheaper storage. But the client is always slow and crashes regularly for me (without any notice).

Also, Google Drive misses some basic functionality, like getting an actual list of of shared folders and with whom they were shared [1]. Instead you have to check every folder manually.

[1] http://webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/46135/how-can-i-s...

I pay for extra Google Drive storage, but I do NOT use their client. I use their web interface to basically use GD as a date stamped deep backup for my stuff.

Also, one other thing to consider, GoogleDrive does not work well (at all, currently) with NTFS junctions. Big deal breaker for me.

And all things being equal, for some reason, Dropbox syncing is much faster than Google Drive.

If I empty out both drives and start from scratch, then put the same files in both, it seems to take Google Drive around 350% time to sync the same files.

Dropbox is a resource hog. Unless i want my windows machine to fireup on RAM, fan speed, hard disk usage and stall, I avoid running Dropbox in background. Onedrive works better for me!

Are you on a mac? I have the same issue :( and only run Dropbox when I'm not engaged with my computer to let it do its thing.

Saying that, as a paying customer, I still love Dropbox since it's sync quality & ease is outstanding. I'm also a fan of their Datastore API.

I am on a Mac and don't have that problem. Did you try to trace the Dropbox process to see if anything weird is happening?

Same here !

Microsoft's Onedrive has been surprisingly good for me - on Android as well.

I've always viewed Google drive as a checklist item to compete with others. Cloud storage? Check! Gets the job done but not a main focus.

The OS X client is passable, and the fact that you can't do things like LAN sync or rate limit the upload speed make it no good for many clients of mine.

You can rate limit in Google Drive in 1.19+

I don't think Dropbox has ever tried to compete on price though, have they?

For me, there are two things that make Dropbox a better option than MS/Amazon/Google:

1) It's their core business. You know it's not going to be dropped next week because the side project wasn't popular enough or it's not making enough money.

2) The on iPhone/Mac apps that I use quite often offer a sync option with Dropbox not many sync with other providers.

Ignoring Google and their "empire where the sun always sets," cloud storage is going to become a thing like MP3 players and web browsers -- it's going to become part of the base expectation of having a platform. It's already in Windows, iOS and Android. It's not going away.

Definitely. But so far, Dropbox is faster and has better sharing functionality (e.g. show me a list of folders that I shared, which e.g. Google Drive cannot do).

For business use, the $10 per month is peanuts for a more seamless experience.

Besides that, Dropbox seems to be branching out. There is Carousel, which I like quite much compared to the cl*sterfuck that is Google Plus photos. I can put my photos in regular Dropbox folders, but still have a Flickr-like experience. Also, there is Mailbox.

Of course, they need a better collaborative editing story than 'you can save from Office on Android/iOS to Dropbox'.

The fact that people think Dropbox is so vulnerable tells me how secure they really are as a leader in this space. Let me explain. Dropbox works so beautifully and transparently that people mistakenly assume that what they are doing must be easy. (Netflix suffers / benefits from a similar fallacy with respect to streaming.) In reality, distributed storage and sync is quite a challenging engineering problem, which Dropbox has about a 10 year jump on solving. There is a notorious surfeit of brilliant engineers at Google, but have you actually used Google Drive? I tried it when it came out and it crashed at least once a day. Maybe it's gotten better since, but so has Dropbox. Overcoming these technical deficits is really hard and expensive (just look at Apple Maps) and often painful for the end user. I wouldn't write Dropbox off just yet. Also, with the forthcoming IPO it's conceivable that they will start to build out their own data centers.

I highly doubt that Dropbox has a 10 year head-start (over Google and Amazon) in the area of "distributed storage and sync" - unless you meant it in the narrow case of building desktop sync clients.

Dropbox user experience hasn't changed that much over the years.

Amazon, Google and MS are after users to absorb them into their other products and then merge or drop those products years letter.

My Dropbox account still works the same after all those years, I can't say the same of Google Drive/Doc SkyDrive/OneDrive/LiveMesh/etc.

> It's the whole Jobs thing with 'you're a feature, not a product.'

I'd turned that the other way. Dropbox is a product while Google, MS and Amazon's dropbox-like offers are a side-feature of other business.

edit: Then there is the `brand` argument. Dropbox is solid.

Note: I am not convinced those arguments are valid in the business space but this is how I think it pans out for most `standard` users (free and paying).

The problem is not Dropbox being "a feature, not a product". It's a perfectly fine product, but it's hard to compete with products given away as loss leaders by companies who have other sources of revenue.

That's why people should stick with Dropbox (or others like SpiderOak). Because the companies who give it away as loss leaders will probably neglect their products or index your data for advertising, etc.

(Perhaps with the exception of Microsoft, who seem to want to sell Office with OneDrive.)

> Perhaps with the exception of Microsoft, who seem to want to sell Office with OneDrive.

I think this may be the most prescient comment here. I wonder if Dropbox and Microsoft may start looking more and more alike. MSFT with a OS as a side business and Dropbox with an office suite as a side business.

Dropbox can still win.

First, have you tried the Cloud Drive UI? It's barely hackathon-level quality. They have basic photo browsing, which is nice, but the Dropbox UX is orders of magnitude better at the time of writing.

Second, a lot of people use Dropbox to share files. Amazon's service is currently about back-ups. They're somewhat different use cases, and sharing is arguably a harder problem than backup because the sharing experience must have much less friction to succeed. So Dropbox is already years ahead of Amazon in this regard.

Third, storage at scale is still much cheaper than what anybody is charging. A 4U of RAID 5 SATA drives costs quite a bit less than Amazon's $59/yr/TB price point. (I know Cloud Drive is "unlimited" at that price, but survey data suggest to me most users have less than 1TB of data or unwilling to upload that much). While Dropbox purportedly uses S3 heavily, S3 is about $360/yr/TB. Clearly Dropbox must have storage hedged with something else to back their Pro service (even if that tech is still under development).

Dropbox can, with high probability, meet Amazon's offering here, and they'll likely blow Amazon's UX out of the park.

It'll be tough for Dropbox. I imagine the #1 thing they have going for them is a strong consumer-facing brand and a bunch of existing customers (who are likely still telling their friends to download Dropbox, though who knows how fast). I also suspect they're working on a full office suite - they acquired Mailbox and Hackpad more recently.

Amazon doesn't have much strength as a consumer-facing tech brand, afaict. As a developer, I trust S3. But as a consumer, do I trust Amazon's software to be usable or reliable? I'm not so sure.

Still, long-term, I find it hard to see things panning out for good ol DBX without something big coming out soon...

Well I was about try out Amazon but then I saw they don't have a Linux client... so I'm sticking with Dropbox for now.

I know... I have an Amazon Prime account and it irks me that I can only use the web interface.... although I wonder if https://github.com/handyman5/acd_fuse still works. a FUSE interface would be much more convenient than any desktop client.

Well, since it's an open API I have no doubt there will be a Linux client soon.

Personally I'll wait until I can get a client that can encrypt my data.

The API is open, but undocumented and unversioned (ie, liable to introduce breaking changes at any time).

I would never try to build a third-party product based on this service. That's what S3 is for.

Dropbox should convert their storage backend to a single account on Amazon's new "unlimited" service so that their per-user hosting costs are approximately nil... ;-)

Relevant xkcd: http://xkcd.com/1499/

Do we know for a fact that Dropbox is still just am S3 reseller? I would be very surprised if that were still true.

It appears to be true, though I'd imagine they're getting very substantial discounts from Amazon. Otherwise it'd be far cheaper for them to self-host at their scale.

If that's true wouldn't it make sense for Dropbox to form some sort of a a whitelabel partnership with Amazon? Building cross platform reliable software to sync and method of storing data (ie. avoiding duplicates et al) is still an important piece in creating a smooth user experience while minimizing cost on the storage side.

Well the data is hosted on s3.amazonaws.com at least once, judging by the urls. So they either use it as a complement, or exclusively.

They already have network effects. I wouldn't underestimate those. Also startups are rarely zero sum, so for Dropbox to be successful™ it doesn't have to absolutely murder the competition, just be significant enough that the competition doesn't murder it.

To expand on that, the primary network effect that I see are applications integrating into the dropbox storage system. Smart move by Dropbox.

I wonder if Amazon can somehow leverage their own network effects into this product. e.g. Lots of content is already stored in S3.

Dropbox has great integration on mobile apps. I don't recall more than a few of my apps having integration beyond Dropbox and iCloud.

I don't know about Android, but I really hope iOS moves towards a generic cloud storage interface so that competitors can more easily get traction, but I know this isn't in Apple's interest.

I don't understand how Google and Microsoft let Dropbox (and Box) to gain any market share at all. It's poor execution from both these giants, particularly Google. I am surprised Dropbox was able to grow for this long.

How about their MBaaS? I'm a fan of their Datastore API. Would welcome Dropbox expanding their apps ecosystem support.

Is Dropbox working on moving to its own hardware? It seems like being bound to S3 must be a big business risk for them.

Dropbox's business strategies (Carousel) and acquisitions ("Dropbox for Music", "Dropbox for Documents") make it seem like Dropbox is opting for diversity instead of opting for efficiency, that could be passed down to the end-user with lower prices.

And that's probably wise -- it's not like the markup on S3 is so huge that it's an obvious big win to move off it once you consider the size of the up-front investment to build up a similarly featured, distributed and redundant cloud storage system of their own. Diversification is a good idea for them, I just think it's a very low probability of success.

Unless they have substantial discounts over the public S3 prices (which is certainly possible - even likely), you can cut 50% or more off the S3 costs very easily. The AWS markups are crazy high.

You can even save substantial money over "pure" S3 just by proxying and caching requests for the most heavily trafficked objects somewhere with lower bandwidth costs.

We don't know the rate they're getting, except that it's likely that it's lower than the public rate. They DO know what the rate is, and they're still using S3.

Dropbox can merge with Backblaze ;-)

All of the syncing is done via ec2 instances, so moving the backend storage offsite would cost a ton more, and be a lot slower :(

If you have a machine for storage, you can assume you will have a machine next to it (or on it) for syncing. Anyway they have to pay for their sync machines but at their scale I don't know if it would cost more than ec2.

One word: pre-install

Dropbox is pre-installed on a lot of samsung smartphones and can not be removed. This removes the hurdle for people who don't know much about cloud storage from picking one.

Although I consider this bloatware it appears to be a very good marketing strategy.

Not for long. The new Galaxy S6 has OneDrive pre-installed instead of DropBox, and samsung has indicated that the rest of their lineup will be going this way too. And of course, all new windows computers come with OneDrive pre-installed as well. I think HTC is the only OEM still pre-installing DropBox.

Dropbox, which has its whole business around selling storage, unlike companies like Amazon and Google, who also want to mine your data, could offer end-to-end encryption for the files like Spideroak.

Of course, I can't imagine its most influential board member, Condoleezza Rice, will ever agree to that.

Well, since the ACS API is open, why couldn't you just write a client that encrypts your data as well?

This strikes me as being somewhat similar to the historic relationship between auto makers and dealers. Before dealer protection laws (that we now hate so much), an auto maker could really just put any dealer out of business once the dealer had shown that there was a viable market in that area.

It's a few years later and now we have several businesses who's business model is essentially reselling amazon services (s3), and once they've shown it's a viable business (dropbox) we can expect amazon to come in and undercut them.

There are two factors that might prevent amazon from being too successful in the consumer storage area.

1. Dropbox's UI, apps, and filesystem integration are both very well designed and pretty technically complex. It might seem trivial to design something as good, but I promise you it's not.

2. Consumer storage pricing is in a race to the bottom, but consumer storage volume is increasing exponentially. Once people start uploading all their home videos to this service, will amazon be able to afford to run this business unit?

FYI everyone here, this is not even sync. It's a drag and drop to upload applet :)


"Note: The Cloud Drive Sync application (formerly, the "Cloud Drive desktop application") is no longer available for download. If you already have the application installed on your computer, you can continue to use it. However, if you uninstall the application, you won't be able to reinstall it from the website."

I tried using the unlimited photos service with my prime account and auto-phone-photo-backup service. It works great when uploading or browsing your photos online, but once you go to download your photos, it's one by one.

Sad. I would personally love to mount a drive so that I didn't have to have nearly 100gb .raw files on my laptop but could still access them any time.

That thing is just useless for any purpose.

Agree 100%

If they had selective sync with storage at that price, it would be a game changer.

It seems many people here commenting haven't tried it. It has no sync! The online interface is awful!

This is currently such a bad product that its not likely to be a threat to any existing solution.

Try signing up and seeing it for yourself. You will neither be able to sync or upload a lot of content, nor use it once uploaded given the poor online interface.

Might want to check some facts here. There is an Amazon Cloud Drive app for Windows and Mac that does syncing. It's not as advanced as Dropbox but it's about on par with the Google Drive app.

Their online interface isn't terrible either - it's actually surprisingly modern for an Amazon product. There's actually two views - one for files and one for photos (just like Dropbox and Carousel). Again the file browser is about as bare bones as it gets without document preview etc, but the Cloud Drive Photos view is pretty decent.

Dropbox is miles ahead of Amazon in their UI and other features, but I think for many very basic users, Amazon's offering will be sufficient for simple backup/sync operations.

FYI their FAQ says the sync is "old" and the new tool which will be updated is drop to upload only.

Also, their file interface is far from modern. You can't drag and drop, right click to share, anything expected from all of their competitors.

I've periodically tried the consumer amazon cloud drive every few months or so since it's popped up on my radar and every time I get frustrated and remove it.

Dropbox may be reselling me the same storage at 200% markup but the interface is effortless, the software is very hard to break even with a large number of collaborators and group folders, it has a nice media browser, the public sharing abilities are top notch etc. Amazon could offer to pay me to use their Cloud Drive product and I still would not use it

Could work out fine as an upload-and-forget solution. I have a bunch of stuff I don't need to access often (if ever) and certainly don't want to keep local copies of. Currently using S3 and Glacier for that, but Cloud Drive might just fit the bill.

I currently pay about $120 per year for 1 TB of storage through Google Drive. I use about 850 GB of that. After using all the various popular cloud drive services, I can say this isn't about $ per GB anymore. $120 per year for 1 TB is such a low amount of money that it becomes meaningless.

The next hurdle they need to overcome is sync speed. When you're dealing with that much data (especially when made up of many tiny files like JPGs) it becomes a significant engineering challenge. The sync speed with some services can slow to a crawl. In my own use, Google Drive and DropBox have been the best. OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) was unusable at certain file counts. I haven't tried Amazon though. I would give it a shot if I go over the 1 TB mark but would probably not try it just to try to save $60 per year.

Anecdotal, but I just synced >10k files from OneDrive to the local drive, and the sync saturated my internet connection (100 Mbit). (On Windows 10.)

OneDrive has been a mess:

"Prior to Windows 8.1, we had two sync experiences. One used on Windows 7/8/Mac to connect to the consumer service, and a second sync engine to connect to the commercial service (OneDrive for Business). In Windows 8.1 we introduced a third sync engine..."

This is Chris Jones, super smart guy, long-time vet of Microsoft, and ... indicative of the kind of incredibly stupid shit only Microsoft can pull off. Bonus points for the phrase "sync experiences" which indicates smart-dude-weak-thinking at a legendary level. Sinofskyesque.

In the blog post he sort of admits the fuckup. Sort of. But who cares. It's March and things already kicking ass on Mac, finally. After Windows 10 ships it'll be fine. Five years late, but fine. Not like Dropbox got their nonsense figured out with the long and generous head start. And not like Apple's done any better, either.

FYI, I get 1 TB storage through dropbox for $99

Microsoft offers 1 TB storage through OneDrive for $69.99/yr -- and it comes with Microsoft Office apps for PC, Mac, Android and iOS.

I have a soft spot for Dropbox, but it's really just a matter of who buys them for what price now. They're done.

There is something very unclear to me regarding the usage of the cloud drive for kindle related stuff. I mean, until now every ebook I purchased on amazon was available on amazon cloud. Also, they offered this option to documents you sent to your device by email. How is this new cloud drive going to affect me ? They already told me in the email that the current 5 GB plan is no longer available and has been replaced with a free 3-month trial of one of the Unlimited plans. The existing documents are available to download and view but if I want to upload new files I must select one of the Unlimited plans. So no more cloud storage for kindle (of course, unless I choose to pay according to new plans) ?

It looks to me like the "send to kindle" feature is broken unless you sign up for one of the free trial options. That fits with the email they sent out: "In order to upload new files you will need to pick one of the free 3-month trials". I suppose I can still move things around using dropbox, but it's not quite the same.

These "Unlimited" offers now bore me. I'd much rather they capture what the actual offer is - is it 100 GB with 50 GB/month Upload, 50 GB/month Download? 500 GB with 100 GB/month upload, 1 TB/month download?

Just be honest with me and tell me what you are offering, don't play games with "Unlimited"

If only there was a cloud storage provider that did just that.

If only they were hacker/unix focused and had been around since 2001 and even had a HN readers discount.

If only ...

Rsync and Tarsnap are two of the of services that are excellent in this nature. In particular, I'm almost 100% certain that if a user goes crazy, and stores 1 TB+ on Rsync, that they wouldn't even blink.

Also incredibly attractive about Rsync, is that if you already have a lot of exposure to AWS, then Rsync is an awesome secondary store, as, based on my limited understanding and reading of their FAQs, their is no connection between AWS and Rsync. Should AWS drop off the face of the earth, or some exploit result in an extended data disaster, Rsync is in no way impacted.

Not the rsync creator, but the creator of rsync.net - just to clarify :)

Yes, you are correct - we built our own infrastructure. We built the boxes ourselves and we purposely chose Hong Kong and Zurich to be other than the AWS locations. We have no connection to AWS.

Except, we do have s3cmd and gsutil in our environment, so you can very, very easily import and export data with those tools:

  ssh user@rsync.net s3cmd get s3://rsync/mscdex.exe
In fact, we have in the past, run ad campaigns reminding people not to have their infrastructure and their backups all in one place.

I'm pretty sure you're responding to the rsync creator.

Absolutely, but he was too modest to promote himself so I, an disinterested third party did it for him.

"Most people have a lifetime of birthdays, vacations, holidays, and everyday moments stored across numerous devices. And, they don’t know how many gigabytes of storage they need to back all of them up."

Моst people in the US and Canada have highly asymmetrical Internet connections, so uploading gigabytes of accumulated media is hardly an enticing proposition. I wonder if that's an important factor of why the cloud providers are so willing to offer "unlimited" storage. If it was Eastern Europe, on the other hand, they'd probably be swamped with data in days, if not hours.

I suspect it's one factor--in addition to the fact that unlimited, like free, sounds really good in marketing copy to most people. As a data point, I think it took me something like 3 months to do my initial 1.3TB or so backup to Backblaze. So somewhere in the few TB range is probably going to be the practical maximum for most consumers.

I do not think Amazon is going after Dropbox, Google and Microsoft with this, as the article title implies. Thus far, Amazon is offering a different service: Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive all synchronize your files (selective or all) Amazon's Cloud Drive does not.

Is it a folder?

Dropbox is a folder. Everyone in my family understands "put things in this folder, they sync automatically." I want that but at this price!

It likely won't be. Amazon is pretty bad at software.

It doesn't seems to be. I just installed it. Under OS X you get a window to which you can drag and drop files and directories, and you can download files and directories from your Cloud Drive, but not synchronization, selective or otherwise. That makes it a limping service for me.

It is not a folder. Once I realized this I uninstalled. I don't want to redownload files every time I need to work on them.

It seems I want the opposite. I don't want to have the files on my local machine. I want storage that is bigger than what my local machine has. Hopefully at least one of us will get what we want from this.

I am glad to see more competition in this space! I frequently advise non-tech family and friends to choose two cloud providers, and use them to replicate important files.

I stopped being a paid Dropbox customer last year over the Condi Rice issue (otherwise, a great service) but I still use their free tier. I also pay for extra Google Drive storage, which I think is a good deal. The best deal, for my use cases however, is Office 365 home edition: my wife and I each get one terrabyte of cloud storage and up to date versions of all of the Office 365 productivity software (and the web versions are nice running Linux) -- all for $100/year.

I am tempted to sign up for the new Amazon offering, but I already feel I am so well replicated: every photo I take goes automatically to Google+, OndeDrive, and Dropbox; almost all of my working files are inside of OneDrive so get synced; I created compressed archive files for projects and with date stamps save them away in Google Drive; projects stored at bitbucket and github.

It will be interesting to see how well Amazon supports mobile devices and multiple operating systems.

For me one of the biggest wins of cloud storage is being able to choose what is not replicated to my laptops, etc.

I would feel better about Amazon's offering if they were more transparent regarding government requests. According to the EFF[0] Amazon doesn't tells users about government data requests or publish transparency reports.

[0]: https://www.eff.org/who-has-your-back-2014

no doubt. amazon <heart> government.[0]


Oh these unlimited services. Just tried to upload some files:

> The file 1.zip did not upload because it is larger than 2 GB.

Update. Limitation only applied to web UI: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=...

Though as mentioned before app not currently available. :(

Well the takeaway from me as a Prime customer is now I can back up almost all my photos to the cloud (hi NSA!) ... in fact if there was a convenient app on my iPhone to automatically sync it, I'd sign up. Maybe in the future, Amazon will offer some cool services for tagging and searching my photos. Makes everyone suddenly want to become a high-res DSLR fanatic.

What I see is that Amazon is simply trying to maximize the power of Bundling. It's all about that Prime, 'bout that Prime, no limit. (Except the unofficial one which only a few people will run into, but the gamble is that the positive PR will attract more customers than the negative PR. Of course, they're also attracting a lawsuit from other companies.

I don't know what they're smoking.

When you are spending almost $7B a year on shipping, and your customers are only paying $3B for said shipping, it's time to start padding the Prime features so you can take advantage of the good will when you make necessary adjustments later.

Interesting. Where'd you get those figures? I googled around a bit but came up short.

They're in here, see 3:45. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCvwCcEP74Q

OVH tried to do that with their Hubic service, and people were just abusing the limits, sending in data from multiple machines 24/7 (https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js=y&prev... ) . They now limit at 10TB for the old "unlimited" price.

This might explain this clause: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9269908

"Unlimited" should be banned from advertising slogans. It's like an "all you can eat" buffet that kicks out the customers that eat too much. It's a trick that companies employ because nobody reads their TOCs that let them kick out power users. It's misleading advertising. Why not promise people 100TB of storage? Because then you'd actually have to live up to your promises. Since living up to promises of "unlimited" data isn't feasible, this strategy should be banned. Same goes for Yahoo! Mail and their "unlimited" storage.

I can't see how Dropbox wouldn't end up getting crushed in this fight. Just recently, they reclaimed all the promo/referral/college storage I had, and shrunk my space from 40GB to 15GB. Pay up $10 per month or lose all your data.

I shopped around, and got a $2 per month from Google Drive. The product is pretty much on parity with Dropbox on the Mac, and works exactly the same way. Yes, I'll take that 80% discount, thank you.

It's mostly, right now, because Amazon's desktop software is _so_ bad. Whereas with Dropbox and Google Drive, I can simply save files to a directory on my computer and can be assured that Dropbox/Drive are uploading them automatically and keeping them in sync, with Amazon, they seem to have forgotten about Sync all together. There are files that I add to the cloud. Should I need to work on them again, then I download them from the cloud, edit them, and add them back.

This workflow sucks, and it's worth paying to not have to do that.

> The product is pretty much on parity with Dropbox on the Mac

In my experience, Dropbox is always faster and more reliable. The other big selling point of Dropbox is the wide adoption of its API. It's basically the de-facto cloud sync solution for most of the iOS/Mac app out there (some are moving to iCloud, but Dropbox is still the more reliable/popular one). If you are deep integrated in the Apple eco system, Dropbox is hands down the best you can go with.

All cloud storage services offer unlimited storage in one form or another. It will be interesting to see who comes up with the most seamless solution for managing limited on device memory storage with unlimited storage on the cloud. Users may also want different files to be synced on different devices. I have only used Dropbox among all of these services, and its current manual Selective Sync is a clumsy way to manage data.

Is this a drive, or storage?

In other words, do I have to have one corresponding drive on my system, and the storage is limited to at most the size of that one physical drive?

Could Amazon put the squeeze on Dropbox by raising the price of S3?

Would that be a shot in the foot due to a reduction in sales for S3 but worth it to get into cloud storage?

Maybe dropbox should get an account and use it as the storage for their service. :)

I would be surprised if Dropbox hasn't looked at the alternatives.

S3 is pretty expensive as is.

There is no way Dropbox is paying stock S3 pricing.

Unlikely for a bunch of reasons.

1) Amazon has a history of competing fairly with customers (e.g. Netflix) and wouldn't want to ruin its reputation in that regard 2) Big customers like dropbox make S3 better (power users + increased economies of scale 3) Raising the price of S3 would risk Dropbox shifting to another cloud provider with no guarantee that customers would shift to Amazon storage

Isn't this just begging people to find the actual limits? Couldn't Dropbox cut their own costs by using the unlimited service, and then make money on offering better service? Would amazon just throttle them in response, or ...?

Edit; ivank found the catch, a few minutes before I posted this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9269908

I don't trust Amazon from a privacy point of view so I'm certainly not going to be hosting private files on their servers.

I like Dropbox because it does basically one thing and does it well. I don't need to edit docs, collaborate, etc. with it - I've Google Drive for those purposes - but it suits me perfectly for my core backup requirements and at a price I'm not too bothered by.

If you using Dropbox you already host your private files on Amazon S3 servers.

You better use client-side encryption if you want to keep your files safe.

I love the Dropbox service, but if Amazon will provide iOS and Mac clients that work well and the Mac client turns out to be less of a CPU hog than the awful Dropbox Mac client, I'll switch right away.

Dropbox is constantly the second highest average energy user over the last 8 hours on my laptop, impacting battery life. It shows up high on the CPU usage list all the time.

Amazon Cloud Drive is useless because it has no synchronization. You need to manually upload and download files whenever they change.


The other tech giants (Google, Microsoft, Apple) already have consumer cloud storage services, so I am not surprised to see Amazon launching one too.

Now I just hope there will be a standard for mobile apps to use cloud storage, to get out of this swamp with each app integrating with storage services individually.

This isn't a new service - the cheap/unlimited pricing is what's new.

I just looked at the Box stock. Google Finance says institutional ownership of 0%. Never seen something like this before - perhaps gFinance has buggy data or else the smart money is not on Box. Perhaps similar story on Dropbox. Not sure when their IPO is, but I hear the rumblings of it.

I think vast majority of Box's IPO buyers were institutional investors (not counting their existing investors before the IPO). Maybe the reports are not filed yet or Google hasn't aggregated recent data.

What's happen when trial access expire? Will files remain accessible without payment?

I know that Google Drive don't allow to uploads until you pay for storage or remove files that above limit, but they're still available. Interesting what happen in case of Amazon.

It's not going after Google Drive as it has no content application offering. Google Drive has a comprehensive one: create spreadsheets and all kinds of other documents _in_ the cloud. Collaborate on those documents using apps such as Hangouts, G+, GMail.

This looks promising, down the line, to replace Dropbox (which I use for things I don't care about or don't need to collaborage on--SpiderOak Hive for everything else). But I think I want to see it exist for some length of time before jumping on it.

I got the Spideroak unlimited deal when that existed. I don't think I will be changing anytime soon. The client-side encryption is greatness and makes the cost very easy to live with.

I'm actually upset by this -- I'm on the $10/year for 20gb plan (I use unlimited photos, the 20gb are just home videos). I'm sure Amazon figured there would be a few people like me who wouldn't like this, but it still sucks.

"covering all kinds of media from videos and music through to PDF documents"

Do they not just accept all files? This makes me think there's a set list of filetypes.

The photo side could be good for my phone's photos, but not for my real photography. I have to have sync for photos that I am actually going to do work on.

I don't have a lot to say about the OP, but I can say that this thread is 100% more enjoyable to read after installing the Cloud to Butt extension.

I'm adding support for this to Arq (my backup app) right now. Unlimited backups for $5/month with no data transfer fees sounds awesome to me!

OneDrive already offers unlimited storage!

Amazingly, the top comment on this post discusses philosophy of mortality, based on the ToS of corporations.

Not sure what would have gone in deciding that they don't need anything between 5GB and unlimited.


Unlimited Everything Plan (free 3-month trial, then $59.99 per year–equivalent of less than $5 per month): Store an infinite number of new and existing photos, videos, files, documents, movies, and music in Cloud Drive.

Thoughts on security or storing sensitive stuffs (finance, tax forms, etc.).

Though I suppose my question goes for all of the cloud services (Google Drive, Drop Box), which, in my uneducated opinion is "be careful / encrypt it."

I keep tax and similar docs on dropbox inside a truecrypt encrypted disk. Suitable level of security for my needs, and I like that its synced across a few systems (including one that is separately backed up).

I have not played with Amazon Cloud Drive yet, does it allows for selective synchronization?

Seems very good for archival storage. But then what becomes of Glacier storage?

Does any service allow me to stop syncing node_modules folders?


On MEO Cloud (https://meocloud.pt/downloads), you can create a .cloudignore file in the root of the main sync folder. The syntax is the same as .gitignore files. (http://git-scm.com/docs/gitignore).


Still cannot share folders on AWS Cloud Drive :(

I have Amazon Prime yet I'm paying for Google $2/mo to keep my photos. Google+ features for photos are just awesome!

how about bandwidth bills? is there a flat fee for those?

I wonder how much it would hurt gmail if amazon offered their own version.

I'd actually like something more like thunderbird/gmail for multiple accounts, where the storage/client is mine, but the imap accounts it connects to are on other services, with multiple account support...

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