By Evan Ackerman
Lacie would like to offer you some free cloud storage to back up your data and make it accessible to you and your friends anywhere, anytime. It’s called Wuala, and you can get as much of it as you want. Really. Infinite cloud storage, for free. Absolutely free.
Well, sort of free.
Okay, so it’s not totally free. But you don’t exactly have to pay for it, either. Wuala (it’s pronounced like “voilà”) functions by transforming your local storage into cloud storage for someone else. Here’s how it works: if you want a gig of cloud storage, you donate a gig of your local hard drive to the Wuala cloud. Wuala will dump a bunch of data onto your drive, and in return, you’ll get up to a gig on Wuala. Unlike most cloud storage solutions, Wuala itself isn’t a bunch of servers somewhere, but rather a bunch of users who have donated drive space to other users. Your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer, and it’s stored in several different places (like a big distributed RAID system), so it’s safe. Essentially, you’re just trading storage with other people, and Wuala is managing everything.
Now, this does mean that you’ve got some random stranger’s files on your computer. They’re encrypted, so you can’t DO anything with them, but I could see being bothered by having a bunch of random crap sitting on one of my drives. Plus, if random stranger dude wants to get at his stuff, it’s going to cost you bandwidth. Since the storage network is distributed, it’s not a big deal, but again, it’s the principle of other people using your resources that I could see being mentally problematic, even if it does make a lot of practical sense. The other catch is that this system collapses if everybody shuts their computers off, so unless you leave your computer on pretty much all the time, you won’t get a 1:1 trade for your storage.
Any way you look at it, Wuala is an interesting communal storage idea. You can try it for free from Wuala.com, and it comes bundled with Lacie’s hard drives and flash drives, including these durable little flash drives shaped like keys:
The key drives start at $20 for 4 gigs and are available at 32 gigs for $100.