Online Storage with API Access

Definition of Online Storage

In its simplest form, online storage can be defined as a system that allows users to store digital data thru the internet. Online storage should not be considered the same as online backups, file sharing, file hosting, etc. Instead, it should be viewed as the actual core of many of these services.

As a programmer, I am primarily interested in products that I can use as the foundation for my own projects. Therefore, this article compares all major online storage options that expose an API even if they offer other features.

The good news is that many companies have realized the potential for online storage and its accompanying services. As a result we have several choices – including some big-name players – that have entered the market. And many will surely follow. Most services are already very affordable and are quite functional, but we can expect this to continue to improve as more competitors enter the market.

The Lineup

Amazon S3

Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) launched in March of 2006 (press release) and it is the actual storage system used by many of the online giant's own applications. Here are some particularly notable highlights from their description of the product…

Reliable: Store data durably, with 99.99% availability. There can be no single points of failure. All failures must be tolerated or repaired by the system without any downtime.

Failure tolerant: The system considers the failure of components to be a normal mode of operation, and continues operation with no or minimal interruption.

We found more companies publicly acknowledging the use of Amazon S3 than any other product in our list. These include Altexa, Elephant Drive, Jungle Disk, LA NACION, MediaSilo, Microsoft and SmugMug.

One potential drawback that users may find is actually its simplicity. Since this is a no frills storage service, the only way to reach your data is programmatically thru the API. However, there are 3rd party applications available to manage data in Amazon S3.

MediaMax

MediaMax, a product from Streamload, bills its self as the world's largest online media center and one central place to store, organize, and access files and digital media. Unlike Amazon's S3, MadiaMax does provide several ways to reach your data, including web access, a free backups and synchronization application for Windows and the API. One thing to note is that the API is available for non-commercial use and that commercial use is possible by prior arrangement. I tried to contact them for more information but I've yet to hear back from them.

Price is the key with MediaMax, as the free plan start with 25 GB and the 100 GB plan is only $4.95/month. MediaMax's online storage is being used by Proxure KeepVault.

Xdrive

Xdrive is the product of another familiar name in online services – AOL. It claims to be the trusted leader in secure online storage and file sharing. Regarding its functionality it adds Xdrive allows users to access files from the office, at home, or on the road; collaborate online with colleagues; share files & folders with anyone; and automatically backup their PC. Users can access their data thru the web, Windows Explorer and PDAs. And as of June 2007 programmers can now access Xdrive data thru their JSON v1.1 API.

They have a 5 GB free plan and 50 GB for just $9.95/month.

box.net

According to their site, box.net's internet storage service enables you to save, browse, share and retrieve files, photos, and documents from any computer or mobile device. User data is accessible thru the web, PDA and API. One interesting feature is their integration of Zoho to provide online editing of MS Office documents.

Programmers can manipulate their storage system thru SOAP, XML POST and REST. They refer to their set of API as Box Enable and it is said to currently be in its "Preview Edition". Their Lite edition is free of charge and supports up to 1 GB of storage.

Product Comparison

The following table shows a brief overview of each product's basic offering.

Online Storage Service Comparison
Product Description API Notes
Amazon S3
  • Plan: NA
  • Storage: $0.15/GB
  • Bandwidth In: $0.10/GB
  • Bandwidth Out: $0.18/GB
  • Max File Size: 5 GB
REST, SOAP and HTTP Only API access
MediaMax
  • Plan: Premium Plan
  • Storage: 100 GB
  • Bandwidth: 10 GB
  • Max File Size: 1 GB
    (unlimited with other plans)
  • $4.95/month
REST Free plan available
Xdrive
  • Plan: NA
  • Storage: 50 GB
  • Max File Size: NA
  • $9.95/month
JSON v1.1 API Free plan available
box.net
  • Plan: Individual Plan
  • Storage: 5 GB
  • Bandwidth: unlimited
  • Max File Size: 1 GB
  • $7.97/month
SOAP, REST and XML POST Free plan available

This is just a small set of online storage products with an API that I've come across and I'm sure more will follow.

If you have any comments, or if you would like to add one to the list, please send a message to info@acworks.net.