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Amazon hopes to knacker its competitors in the cloud world by offering endless online storage space for a flat yearly fee. For $12 a year netizens can store an "infinite" number of photos on Amazon's servers under the new Unlimited Photos Plan, along with 5GB of storage for other types of files. The $60 per annum Unlimited …
Why stop there?
Why not split your files up into 2GiB chunks, gzip, and encrypt them, and store the whole lot in a private, ancillary "fiLe" chunk in little PNG image?
Extra bonus spite points if you store your music and film collections in copies of the RIAA's and MPAA's logos...
1. You can't use a debit card (it must be a credit card). Is that a US legal thing? I can't see why it would make a difference.
2. You give Amazon the right to modify your files ("to enable access in different formats") - why would they need to change the files at all?
3. There's no mention of an SLA.
4. It specifically excludes business use - big sighs of relief all round at DropBox HQ?
Haha. I know why they want to have 'the right to modify your files' :-).
Given a 'jpg backend with 'infinite' storage, it is relatively trivial for an experienced storage engineer (i.e. I've thought of it :-) to write code (Samba VFS or FUSE maybe) to split any incoming file into a set of JPG formatted backend files, and re-combine them on read. Layered filesystems - they're a wonderful thing ! :-).
Offering 'infinite' picture storage means simply 'infinite' storage of any kind.
If they transform the incoming data, then it's harder to build a generic storage backend out of the thing (although probably not impossible with clever enough error-correction code :-).
although probably not impossible with clever enough error-correction code
It doesn't really need to be clever. With infinite storage you can include as much redundancy in your data as you like. The only penalty is the amount of time it takes to upload to / download from Amazon's servers.
You could for example backup your entire pirated movie collection by uploading a series of 800*100 pixel jpegs where every 100 pixels on the x axis represents a new bit (black-ish being 0 and white-ish being 1). Amazon could compress the hell out the files and they'd still be readable.
"That's good news for you and I, but bad news for smaller companies like Dropbox that aren't going to be happy about running cloud storage at a loss."
It's disingenuous to assume that Dropbox will only be able to respond to such market dynamics with operating at a loss. These types of pressure will spur some market participants to operate at a loss, but others will respond with some service improvements or cost-savings that leap ahead of others. This is the essence of capitalism and I would hope that Dropbox would welcome the opportunity to compete. If they want to roll over and die, then consumers of their service should find that out sooner rather than later. Otherwise, Dropbox will either find their own competitive advantage that permits them to survive and thrive.
If we assume that you're using that service as the sole storage for your data, and you have a download speed that averages 1MB/sec (and there's no throttling). That means you've would only be able to get 2.5TB of data off in time when you close your account (or when it is closed for you, perhaps because Amazon decide the offering is not viable). So a sensible user would assume you actually have a 2.5TB limit (even then only if you have as good an internet connection as a 1MB/sec avg 24/7), as you cannot dependably retrieve any more back from it.
2.5TB is still pretty good for cloud storage mind you.
Not that good. £60'll get you a 2Tb external drive from eBay. Hang the expense, call it £120 for two of 'em. You've made your costs back in 6 months; you have an extra 1.5Tb to play with; there's nobody reserving the right to 'change your formats' (whatever that may mean) and it's a lot harder to intercept. Also it's faster than relying on an internet connection.
Good points, but Joe Home User will just see the $12 a year for now. Once the market shakes out and Amazon is in control, the price will rise. By then, for many, it will be too late as most civilians (non-IT) think the Internet thing is "forever" and they'll have lost or deleted all their files/photos on their home systems/phones/etc.
May be able to get some 2TB drives at a similar/cheaper price ... but those won't help if your house burns down/is flooded/gets burgled. I've already got backup sorted to a NAS at home but am sorting out how to then back that up externally ... $60/year looks very interesting - need to investigate further!
I think there's a local sync app (a la Dropbox). So you can maintain the mirrored files locally and the sync app should diff the changes to the cloud.
That also helps get around the problem of getting your data back if you cancel the service: maintain a local mirror. The storage limit is then the size of local storage array.
If they reserve the right to transcode then encrypted files can't be stored there and there is no guarantee that the file you get back is even usable on the system that create it. Surely they really mean that media files can be transcoded on the fly to support different screen resolutions and bandwidth.
Of course, the reason for that is deduplication. If encryption is used then every file will have to be unique and distinct, and that takes up space. If 1000 people at a concert (football match, etc) post the same (or very similar) 1 MB picture, then 1000x1MB =1MB; if encryption is allowed, then 1000x1MB = 1000MB.
"[there] may be limits on the types of content you can store and share using the Service, such as file types we don't support"
"[we may cancel your service] if we determine that your use violates the Agreement, is improper, substantially exceeds or differs from normal use by other users"
Unfortunately this is just the sort of thing my mum (for eample) sign up to and not realise that you actually need to back your data up locally as well as 'in the cloud'.
I can see the email now:
Dear Amazon Cloud User
We are terribly sorry but due to a SNAFU at our data centre, all your photos and other precious memories have been deleted.
As per clause blah blah blah we are not responsible in any way for this loss and if you do not have your precious, irreplacable photos and memories backed up else where then tough titties.
However, as a gesture of good will we would like to offer you a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime.
Agree - local backup is definitely needed as if you want to restored something having it on a NAS is going to be much simpler than downloading of internet (every so often my firefox setup manages to corrupt its files and resetting the account from last overnight snapshot from a NAS is simple). Think an online cloud backup like should be seen as a "disaster recovery" option.
As for an Amazon SNAFU ... remember a few years ago VirginMedia (or probably Blueyonder back then) managed to lose large amounts of email accounts and basically told users "we never made any guarantees on preserving/backing up data so tough". Fortunately I'd always downloaded my emal from servers so didn't affect me!
This is the reason I'm intrigued, purely as a backup to my backups. I have 140 years of family history in photos in JPG and 7 years of landscape images I've shot. 2 backup sets on NAS boxes at home and I want offsite storage to dump 2TB of CR2s, ARWs, TIFFs and JPGs. My wife has a Prime account and that's really got me interested as I can piggy back her account for this.
NSA and US Gov? I'm not bothered if they want to rake through 45,000 images of long dead pets and my since deceased relies grinning into camera!
"We may change, suspend or discontinue the Service, or any part of it, at any time without notice"
On top of zero privacy there is zero security.
"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."
So the infinite storage is actually - not substantially more storage than anyone else is using.
Not worth $60 or $12 a year.
So get 100s of millions of pictures of the real world to train an AI so maybe it can drive a car or fly a plane or take over the world...
Let see it would cost a fortune to create that many pictures so charge the peps 12 a year to store their photos of the world and doge (and cats of course) with a clause that pics can be transformed maybe into a neural net.
There mystery solved :)
I used to work at a place that offered infinite JPEG storage. The size of JPEGs scales at about the same rate as the density of hard drives so physical storage size is essentially proportional to your customer base. No, you can't back up your hard disk inside a practical number of giant JPEGs. It's trivial to detect and clean JPEGs that have too much application data, trailing data, or weird quantization.
I've heard that once your library of JPEGs becomes insanely large, the cardinality starts leveling off and new forms of compression are theoretically possible. I'm skeptical of that offering huge savings outside of stolen pornography, but maybe Amazon figured out the secret recipe.
I got the email today telling me about the changes, and I don't like what I see.
They are stopping the free 5GB service, and I have to choose a 3 month trial of one of the two paid services.
I can't see a way to just cancel now. I signed up for the free trial to give it a go. Didn't like it, so not used it since (although it does seem to include my documents I've sent to Kindle). Don't see how to not use one of the their trials, and get out now.
They seem a little confused about the offering themselves. I have cloud and 'infinite' music storage and 'infinite' photo storage via my Prime membership. They're not sure if these will become new charges above what they charge for Prime. The 2nd rep I talked to was almost sure that Prime will include all these goodies in a bundle, but that the new plans were for people who just want that and not Prime (I would suppose such people would be people that don't like e-readers or 15% discounts off already competitive prices for groceries and over-the-counter medicines.) He did escalate it as customer feedback to get an email out to Prime members explaining what's changing - or not.
Got a reply to this question from Amazon via the online contac us forms. You have to move on to one of the trials. You can stop the auto renew, but you can't currently cancel the trial.
A bit daft, but at least there is an option (but one designed to get you to subscribe by accident?).
Quotes from their reply:
"If you don’t want to upgrade to an annual plan at the end of the trial, you can choose to opt out at any time during the trial period from the Manage Storage page"...
"If you turn off automatic renewal, you'll be able to continue using your free trial benefits until the end of the free trial period but will not be charged for or upgraded to an annual plan when the promotion ends.
Please know that at this time we don't have the option of canceling the trial. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused in this regard."
OK, no sympathy for freetards etc, but my Kindle 3G now won't accept any new personal documents because my (previously free) Amazon Cloud account is now deemed "over quota".
Among all the hoopla about the new unlimited storage, most news outlets have forgotten to mention that the old "5GB for free" service has been removed.
Unfortunately, the only way for me to access my account to bring it under quota is by signing up to the trial. Something I don't particularly want to do (having been nearly burned by an accidental "free" Amazon Prime trial in the past...).
Note to self: never *EVER* buy hardware that is tied to cloud specific services. Especially free ones...
I asked Amazon about this when I was asking about the whole issue of not being able to NOT go on a trial above. Got the following email:
"I understand you'd like to know if you will still be able to send PDF files to your Kindle, without Cloud Drive plans.
Please be advised that Kindle Personal Docs no longer count against your Cloud Drive storage limits, so you’ll be able to access and send documents without a Cloud Drive plan."
I checked with Amazon to see what sort of images would be suitable for their unlimited storage, and they came up with some useful examples:
- a shot of a cloudless blue sky, sun off-picture.
- the inside of a dark cupboard, at night, taken without flash.
- a closeup of a clean iceberg.
- looking westwards into a dense fog bank at dawn.
- anything at all taken with the camera's lens cap on.
It doesn't say infinite, it says unlimited. Not at all the same thing. No-one can provide an infinite amount of stuff to back up, nor an infinite amount of time to do it in using a finite connection.
OTOH the limitations may make it unusable for geeks. And there's no Linux support for this, nor for Google Drive, unless you want to do everything through a browser.
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