Online Secure Backups with the Allmydata Web 2.0 Application
by Mark Woodstone - Thursday, 12 July 2007.
Backups are an important part of anyone's computer life. As a result of Murphy's Laws, you will lose your precious data in the most inappropriate situation, so backing up should be one of your regular habits. The problem with burning CDs or DVDs is that often they get often misplaced, so using an online backup is good way to go. As I am following the rise (and fall) of Web 2.0 applications I came across a nice online solution called Allmydata.

Allmydata concept and pricing

Through a very simple user interface, the application gives you the ability of uploading unlimited amount of data to your online account. As you will see from the screenshots throughout this article, you can get up and running within a couple of minutes.

Allmydata has a price tag of $4.99 per month for one computer, with a 30 day free trial. From my experience this is relatively cost effective way of storing backups. During my work hours I regularly use the Amazon S3 service which is a bit cheaper (for the average user amount of data - up to let's say 20-30 gigs of data), but the service needs to be used with third party applications or something your company would develop in-house. The other difference is that shared files through Allmydata don't have any bandwidth limits, so you won't be extra charged for the files you are sharing with your peers.

Security perspective

Files stored in the Allmydata protection mesh are protected in two ways: strong encryption is used with a unique encryption key for each file stored in the network and then each encrypted file is broken up into many small indistinguishable chunks before being sent out for storage. The only way to recover a file is to know which collection of file fragments, out of the millions of similar fragments, need to be collected to reconstruct the encrypted version of your file.

While extremely not likely, but even if an attacker knew which set of files they have to choose from, this would only give them access to the encrypted version of the file. Sounds pretty solid security construction to me.

Allmydata usage via web interface

Visiting Allmydata.com and entering your user credentials (big plus for the very fast 30 day trial sign-up process), you will enter the main working area of the application.



As you can see the user interface is very intuitive, so you can start uploading your stuff immediately. The default settings gives you the opportunity to upload up to 5 files, but you can add new "upload slots" with a click of a button.



Allmydata shows a dynamic uploading status which both provides the live info and ensures that the files are indeed uploaded without any problems.



Files uploaded are shown in the main screen of the application. As Allmydata doesn't support a bit advanced Web 2.0 features such as drag and drop, next to every file you will find a checkbox which can label it for further action.



Opening or saving a file:



Allmydata also provides functionality for sharing uploaded files. Every file can get its own unique https URL address.



That was the Allmydata usage through the web interface. Besides this way of uploading, Allmydata storage procedure can be done from your Windows computer via a custom application.

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