New Online Storage Service Includes Social and Exchange Features

Caleido Inc., a company based in Switzerland and recently acquired by The Coca-Cola Co., rolled out free social online storage service Wuala in August. The name of the product stems from the French word “voila.”
 
The online storage service allows users to store, back up, access and even share files, photos and videos from anywhere in the world.
 
Its social features include file sharing, groups and chat. New users can set up accounts at www.wua.la, while existing users can invite friends and family to register through either the official site, Facebook or online communication channel Skype.

Convenience and security are key. Users can skip through the installation phase and simply launch the service from a Web browser on Windows, Mac or Linux. This allows for drag-and-drop support and users can upload files in the background or even work offline.

The application, which is based on Java, can perform encryption with the local machine’s hardware.

What sets Wuala apart from its online storage competitors is that the service is decentralized and therefore can utilize the idle resources of participating computers to form large and reliable online storage, according to founder and CEO Dominik Grolimund.

The service also has high-grade security features. It encrypts all the files on a user’s computer before it gets stored online, and it won’t allow users to store their passwords — even Wuala employees cannot retrieve lost or forgotten passwords or access any private files.

So how does Wuala rake in revenue? Through advertisements and sponsorships, photo finishing and even allowing users to purchase additional storage at a relatively low rate, Grolimund said. Existing users start off with 1 GB of free storage, but they can purchase 10 GB for an annual fee of $25, 50 GB for $95 a year or a terabyte for $1,000.

Alternatively, they have the option to trade space on their hard drive for online storage. For example, a user can receive an additional 5 GB of online storage in exchange for 5 GB of space on a local drive.

Several thousand users had a chance to form online communities and test the service in the closed alpha during the past year, prior to its public beta launch. The product itself has been a work in progress for more than three years.
 
– Deanna Hartley, dhartley@certmag.com

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Deanna Hartley

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