April 03, 2013, 11:03 AM — A variety of cloud services offer free storage to get users signed up and on a path to become paying customers. Normally these free offers start at 2GB and range on up to maybe 10GB.
Zoolz, a new cloud storage services from online backup firm Genie9, is going beyond that and offering 100GB of free storage for a lifetime to the first 1 million users of its cloud-based service.
Sound too good to be true? Well there is a catch: Zoolz uses Amazon Web Services' Glacier, which is a "cold storage" service, meaning that files uploaded to Zoolz's cloud are not immediately retrievable. Users get an email within three to five hours of requesting the file alerting them that it is ready to be downloaded from the cloud.
Zoolz also offers a premium offering which does not use cold storage and provides instant access to cloud-based files. Zoolz uses Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) for that service, which starts at $20 per year for 100GB of storage.
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Zoolz is aimed at supporting a wide variety of use cases, says Morgan Gary, a business development manager for the company. Included are complete desktop, laptop, network or external hard drive backups, or any variety of files, including documents, photos or videos. In the two months since the company has launched he says many photographers have used the service since it has been optimized to handle "raw" image files, which are higher-resolution images compared to traditional digital photos. The Zoolz interface shows thumbnail images of the raw files, for example.
The premium service starts at $1.66 per month for 100GB and ranges to 500GB of storage for $10 per month to 1TB for $20 and 2TB for $35 per month. The premium service allows users to share files, schedule backups, and provide instant access to the files stored in the cloud.
Zoolz was born out of Genie9, an online backup company that specializes in business backups, including entire desktops, laptops, Windows File Servers and Microsoft SQL and Exchange Servers. Zoolz is meant to be a completely cloud-based storage offering that incorporates both cold storage from Glacier and instant storage from S3. Customers could use these services directly, but Gray says a complicated setup process and work with application program interfaces (APIs) makes it difficult for the layperson to use. Zoolz is meant to be a "middleman" between the users and AWS's storage services, he says.
When Amazon rolled out Glacier last year many viewed it at the time as a competitor to tape backup for businesses, but an ecosystem of providers have emerged to leverage the service and create products based off of Glacier. Pogoplug, for example, uses Glacier to offer an unlimited amount of cold storage to users for $4.95 per month.