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PC World

Free Web-based drive offers 25MB of accessible-anywhere storage

July 12, 1999
Web posted at: 11:26 a.m. EDT (1526 GMT)

by Alexandra Barrett

(IDG) -- By now, most Web-savvy folks know that you don't have to tote around a floppy, because plenty of Web sites will give you free online storage. These services are great for telecommuters, business travelers, students, and anyone else who works on documents from more than one location.

But the downside to most of these services, I've found, is their interface. Web-based for maximum portability, they tend to be slow and awkward to use. Newcomer X:drive, however, touches on a good way to make Internet-based file storage convenient and easy. By downloading and installing a small client on your system, X:drive creates on your desktop a virtual 25MB drive that has all the functions of your normal hard drive.

That is, you can use your Internet-based X: drive as you would a local drive: Browse it from Windows Explorer, use standard Save As and Open dialog boxes, or drag and drop files between the X: and C: drives. In short, if you can use Windows and you are reading this on the Web, you can use X:drive.
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Downloading and installing X:drive is basically a no-brainer. The only complications I encountered--if you can call them that--revolved around having to download InstallShield's Install from the Web. That done, things went off without a hitch.

Launching X:drive is just as easy: You can launch it from the Start menu. If you really like the product, you can configure X:drive to launch on start-up.

In the beginning, your X: drive contains two default folders -- one private, one public -- and you can add more. Meanwhile, X:drive indicates your connection status with an icon in the Windows system tray.

Modem users, beware

Granted, I doubt I would have enjoyed using X:drive nearly as much were it not for my 1.5-Mbps cable modem connection. Even X:drive's founder and chief executive officer Brett O'Brien concedes that while an X: drive is fully functional over a slower modem, the company is "positioned in the new broadband market." Users connected to the Web over traditional telephone lines will probably feel some pain when working with files stored on their X: drives, especially if the files are large.

For now, the X:drive client is only available for Windows 95 and 98. A Windows NT version is reportedly in the works. Users on other platforms, however, can easily use the browser interface, which is not as cool and seamless but certainly works.

And what if, for some reason, you outgrow your 25MB? In that event, X:drive will lease you another 25MB for $4.99 per month, O'Brien says.

However, from the sound of it, renting disk space is not the only way X:drive intends to make money. The business will evolve into more of a content- and community-oriented site, O'Brien says. Members will post, share, and rate content. This could be a site worth keeping your eye on.

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