I have written many times about the advantages of cloud storage and cloud computing. Having your data available to you at any time on any computer, at home, at the office, on a laptop in a hotel room, from a "smartphone," or from a borrowed computer in a library or a friend's house can be a big convenience. However, many people are not comfortable with the idea of storing their files on someone else's online service. We can talk about security all day long but lots of computer owners simply are not comfortable with storing their files on some computer system they don't control. HomePipe may be the answer.
Instead of storing your files in some online storage space owned by strangers, HomePipe allows you to access files on your own disk drive(s) remotely. The definition of "a disk drive" can be most anything: an external USB drive, a flash drive, or simply a reserved section of the hard drive that is presently built into your computer. You can access your data from someplace else as long as your computer at home is left powered on and connected to the Internet. Your information remains on your own hard drive(s) that you own and control and those files are never copied to anyone else's online service. There is no need to "upload" any files to any Internet-based service.
To be sure, you could purchase hardware and make your own server. PogoPlug is one such piece of hardware that has been available for some time. However, PogoPlug and most similar devices mean purchasing new hardware.
You can also find dozens of online services that will give you free space on some company's servers, such as DropBox and Microsoft SkyDrive. However, the amount of free space is limited, typically between one and 25 gigabytes. If you want more online storage space, you have to pay. Even worse, you don't have control of the storage of your files. You are dependent upon someone else to provide all the needed security and you typically have no way of telling if the hosting company is doing a good job of that or not.
In contrast, HomePipe is a FREE online service that allows you to easily access and (optionally) share your files. You can store any form of digital files: text, pictures, video, music, presentations, or even genealogy databases. You can use disk space on any Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer at home or at the office and yet be able to access the files within that disk space from another location. You can make all your files available or just a few; you remain in control at all times. Files may be retrieved to any Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer, such as a laptop computer in a hotel room, or to an iPhone, iPad, Android, or Windows Phone 7 handheld device.
NOTE: HomePipe doesn't really provide "off-site" backup capabilities. If you have HomePipe installed at home and are using the computer at home to make files available remotely, any disaster at home will ruin your data. A fire, hurricane, tornado, or even a burst water pipe could destroy everything in your computer and everything that is shared online. To be sure, you could install HomePipe on a computer at the office and use that to backup files from the home computer or vice versa. However, when used in its simplest form, HomePipe does not provide off-site protection.
When using HomePipe, files are never uploaded, copied or stored within the cloud. All files remain safe and secure on your home or office computer. You never have to upload, sync or organize anything else in the cloud. And, with HomePipe, there is no storage limit or file size restrictions because HomePipe uses your existing storage. You can use disk space you already own and control or you can purchase a new USB external drive and use that. External USB drives are now available with up to three terabytes of storage and you can even use multiple disks for more space.
Files are saved in their normal format on your local disk drive(s). However, HomePipe then compresses, encrypts and optimizes any files being sent online for security and performance reasons. The HomePipe documentation claims that no one can "tap into" your files and decode them while stored on your drive(s) or when being sent to you online.
There is an option within HomePipe to give access to others via user names and passwords you create.
HomePipe is free for a private user who accesses the files stored on his or her HomePipe system ten times a month or less. There is no limit on the amount of storage; you can make terabytes of information available via HomePipe. More frequent usage or adding more users to your account does cost money, however. A complete list of charges can be found at http://www.homepipe.net/pricingandplans.html.
You can learn more about HomePipe at http://www.homepipe.net/.
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