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Primadesk offers personal control over your cloud

The new service, which is launching at Demo Spring this week, aims to give users the ability to control all kinds of files, documents, photos, and more from a wide variety of Web-based applications.

The home page of Primadesk, which is launching this week at Demo Spring, and which offers control over diverse content in the cloud. Primadesk

As more and more applications move to the cloud, our hard drives are falling by the wayside. And that's probably a good thing. But in the process, we're no longer able to easily manage all of our content. And that's a problem.

At least, that's the position of Primadesk, a start-up that is unveiling its new offering at Demo Spring in Palm Desert, Calif., this week. And the company thinks it has a solution: its Primadesk app aims to give us back our control over all our content, even if it's stored in a wide variety of cloud-based applications.

The idea is pretty simple: the Primadesk app provides single sign-on access to most popular Web-based services and lets users quickly and easily locate and manage content stored in them, including dragging and dropping files, photos, and documents between them.

Essentially, Primadesk is a personal cloud search engine that also comes with a file-management function. Enter a search term, such as "Paris" and you get results showing all your Gmails, Flickr photos, Google Docs files, and so on that mention the City of Light. And while CEO Srinivasa Venkataraman, formerly the CEO of AppStream, acknowledges that there are other services, such as Greplin and CloudMagic, that make it possible to search for personal content in the cloud, he argued that only Primadesk also offers the ability to manage all that content once you find it.

The special sauce of the app is that Primadesk has figured out how to let you grab a file from one service--say, a Flickr photo--and drag it to another--say, Facebook. Or a document from a Web-based word processor into Gmail. And you can both copy to and pull from your hard drive as well.

In addition, the app automatically backs up previous states of cloud content onto your hard drive, meaning that if you've backed up and then deleted, say, a Facebook message, Primadesk will have it for you. And it does so at a folder level, allowing you to see previous states of Facebook, Gmail, Flickr, and so on, regardless of what you've done with them online.

Another benefit, Venkataraman said, is that Primadesk has an e-mail management feature that lets you consolidate all your e-mail, whether cloud-based or not, in one place. As messages flow in, you can see them presented in one place, with notations about which account they're associated with. And from the Primadesk app, you can do all the normal e-mail operations--send, reply, reply all, forward, and so on--from any of your accounts.

One thing Primadesk can't do yet, Venkataraman said, is add metadata to content. So even though you can easily upload photos to Flickr or Facebook from your hard drive or another Web application, you can't automatically add tags. That may come later, he said.

For now, Primadesk is expected to be free for basic usage, with a monthly charge for certain advanced features. The company hasn't said which features will be in which category, however. Venkataraman suggested that the cost may be in the $5 a month range for the premium features. And the company is also expecting that it will earn money by working with enterprise customers, for whom it will offer a full-featured version of the service.

And while many of us may worry that handing over control of our personal content to a third party could be dangerous, Venkataraman says that he and the company's CTO both come from a security background.