Jan Leow's Press Blog

Webdisk file storage system on webhosting provider

My current webhosting provider – Bluehost has a feature called webdisk file storage system. With its current feature of unlimited hosting space, it could actually be use as a cheap way of keeping your files online. So not only could you host your website on the hosting company, you could now store or use it as way to backup your files.

But it is really that good? I have tried some online storage companies like BeInSync and Xdrive (by AOL). Though they offered it for free, the storage was rather limited. BeInSync only provided 1GB (which you could up it to 2GB by inviting a friend to sign up for it) while Xdrive provided 5GB of storage. If you needed more storage space you have to pay a premium for it.

However my trial usage of either didn’t give me a good experience. This could be due to insufficient broadband speed by the ISP. Given the kind of lousy broadband speed and connection the local ISP namely Streamyx could provide, the best you could hope for using the online storage are storing small files. Files like documents and excel sheets and text files being not so big was much more bearable for shuttling the file to and fro.

So likewise with webdisk, I could not hope to make complete use of the unlimited storage provided by Bluehost webhosting company and somehow the hosting company knows that there is no way you could use up so much storage space and decided to give their customers unlimited storage. Because of the speed and time involved to transfer large amount of data, the best option I could hope for is to use webdisk for backups of essential and important files. One way to use them effectively is to zip up the files and later transfer it over to webdisk or any of the online storage. And of course, like any storage solution, never rely on any single location for storing your precious data.

The WebDisk saving grace is that you could connect to it using your Windows Explorer and view the files as though you are in a network environment. To do that you need to setup a webdisk user account in your hosting account. After creating the account you now proceed to your computer, click on the “map network drive” and key in your webdisk URL. Once a pop up appears, key in your webdisk ID and your password and voila, you now have access to your webdisk as like a normal folder in your computer.

When using webdisk, here are some caveats to consider. Avoid creating a webdisk in the public_html folder. That’s where your website is located, and it will be exposed to the public, which means that anybody can access your files! However creating a webdisk in public_html folder has some use. For instance you want to have access to your files using a browser using any computer without using the “map network drive”. In this case you will have to password protect that particular folder so that it will restrict other people from gaining access to those files. In addition, using a browser to download your files is much faster than using network drive, though you could not upload it back once you have modified your files.

If exposure to the internet makes you uncomfortable, the better option is to create your webdisk in the home directory of your hosting account. i.e. not in the public_html folder but the folder before it. That way no one will accidentally find out that you have a webdisk account since it was hidden from public view.

Like any online storage solution, speed is the main problem, coupled with sporadic drop lines if your ISP is having some fits and tantrums, its usefulness is best limited to be used as a backup storage for small files. If you have a better connection you could use it to backup your sentimental photos. Even so, it should not be fully relied on, but treat it as a one of the many backup places you could consider for storing your precious data.

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