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Omnidrive's online drive: Nice, but maybe too late

Omnidrive's online drive: Nice, but maybe too late

The online storage service Omnidrive is in private beta right now. This is an eagerly awaited product, partly because the CEO of the company got a lot of cred by writing for TechCrunch until earlier this year. The public beta will launch during the Web 2.0 conference next week.

It's hard for online storage companies to differentiate. Omnidrive, though, has a feature that's missing from many of its competitors: It integrates into your Windows or Mac file explorer and operates as a virtual hard drive. This means you can drag and drop files to your online drive just like it's a hard disk connected to your computer, or you can save files to it directly from your desktop apps (but not, alas, from your Web-based apps, although an API makes that theoretically possible). You don't need the virtual drive to use Omnidrive: You can also access all your files through the Web interface.

Though not completely implemented at this beta stage, Omnidrive also lets you share files and folders with individuals or with the entire Internet. Missing--so far, at least--is the media viewer/music player, which has been promised for the future. And there's no indication of any kind of an included backup program.

The service will be free with 1GB of storage. 10GB will cost $40 per year. Omnidrive's closest competitor (in that it has a virtual drive too, although not one for the Mac) is Xdrive, which offers 5GB free. Xdrive also has a backup program. However, many users (like me) have been so burned by buggy Xdrive software and services in the past that we'll probably never go back, even though all indications are that the newest version is pretty good in addition to being free.

There are a lot of solid online storage products (for example, has a very attractive online storage site that's well out of beta, and Carbonite, which I'm now happily using, offers unlimited storage for backups). Omnidrive looks like it will be a good product, but it's late to the party.

Related: Hear Tom Merritt and me discuss online storage on the Real Deal podcast.