I have a confession: I’ve never properly backed up my computer. Ever. Whether it was a cloud-based solution or a local NAS, the upload speeds were horrendous, or the software was just plain ugly and confusing to use. But a couple of former Mozy employees have convinced me otherwise. Say hello to Space Monkey.
The way Space Monkey and its two co-founders Alen Peacock and Clint Gordon-Carroll describe the service is that it basically brings the cloud to your home. You pay $US10/month for about 1TB of storage, which is stored both locally on your Space Monkey and on Space Monkey’s encrypted shared network. And all of it can be accessed from anywhere you are on virtually any device.
Should you be sceptical? Yes. But trust me, this is different, and different is good.
The basic process works this way: You back up whatever it is you’d like from your home computer to your Space Monkey, then all of that is broken up into 40 different pieces of data. 20 of those are erasure coded, with the other 20 being parity pieces. So rather than relying on a central data centre, the individual Space Monkeys create a network-based data centre for your virtual goods.
This solves a couple problems inherent with existing backup solutions and is pretty genius in practice. If, for instance, a portion of the country goes down because of a major storm, you can still access your stuff because you only need 20 of the 40 bits floating around the shared network. (It should be noted that the system parameters could change and the number of pieces that are broken up or needed to reconfigure files could change.) There’s also virtually no scaling issue because the whole network is reliant on how many Space Monkeys there are. And it appears as though the only hindrance is your local connection.
Accessing the network from a mobile device is easy as pie. There’s an Android app that’s already been built and is being tested internally, and an iOS version is about a month away, Peacock and Gordon-Carroll tell me. You can also just use the mobile browser since it lets you do just about everything that the native apps allow you to do.
Uploading and then accessing any content from Space Monkey is crazy fast. In a demo, a JPEG was uploaded to Gordon-Carroll’s Space Monkey back in Utah from his laptop in New York and was available for viewing on an iPad within seconds. The service also caches your most recently used file, so watching movies, for instance, doesn’t require a lot of buffering. Streaming music remotely didn’t seem to have any issues either. It all just worked.
Another I-didn’t-know-I’d-need-that-but-I’m-glad-it’s-there feature is the ability to pin items (or folders) for offline viewing. And it’s super easy to do. Right click and “pin” and it’s now available whenever you need it. There’s also no convoluted bullshit-y interface to confuse you. If you’ve ever used Dropbox on your Mac, then you basically already know how to use Space Monkey. Just drag and drop.
The Space Monkey hardawre won’t cost you anything extra; there isn’t even a deposit. You simply pay $US10/month or $US120 for the year and you’ve got 1TB of cloud storage. Compared to other could solutions, Space Monkey is what some would call a “screaming deal”. The drive itself is actually 2TB but you’re only allocated one of those for the sake of the whole network.
The catch? It’s a Kickstarter, which begins today, with the first units are expected to ship by July. Space Monkey says they’re working on other features, like the ability to let you have multiple Monkeys, but that will all come down the road, assuming this project manages to off the ground at scale. Building a new type of storage system isn’t easy, it seems. [Space Monkey via Kickstarter]