Hive: Free Unlimited Cloud Storage?
I get suspicious when a website offers me “free unlimited” anything. So when I saw Hive's offer for free and unlimited cloud storage, I was both hopeful and skeptical. Read on to learn what I discovered about Hive...
Hive: What's All the Buzz About?
When I first encountered Hive Cloud Unlimited, it wasn't just the too-good-to-be-true offer, or the repeated urging to "Open the Web app" made me reach for the tin-foil hat. That “hive.im” domain seemed sketchy, too; who registers a website on the Isle of Man? Instead of swallowing the bait right away, I satisfied my curiosity with some Google Fu.
Hive seems to be legitimate, surprisingly. At least, it’s not a front for malware exploit kits. I have to thank the Bittorrent users’ news site, TorrentFreak, for its elucidation of Hive’s provenance and business model. Hive is a product of QVIVO, a Hong Kong-based firm backed financially by the SingTel Group, the largest Asian telecommunications corporation. QVIVO was founded in 2010 by former executives of game developer Electronic Arts. Its mission has always been to deliver music and video faster, across all devices, and for free.
“Hive” seems to be a brand name for QVIVO’s service that alludes to Bittorrent “swarms,” groups of peer-to-peer networking users who are sharing the same file. Bittorrent is used by Hive to add a social aspect to the QVIVO cloud storage service.
The Web app so insistently pushed by Hive allows a user to drag-and-drop media files that are uploaded to QVIVO’s servers, which are located in the privacy-protective nations of Germany and Switzerland. The Bittorrent protocol lets you invite people to share files with you in groups known as “hives.” All traffic is encrypted.
The Web app also facilitates organization of one’s files and any files shared by your “hive” into libraries, and streaming of music and video in the Web app’s player. You can start a video on a desktop PC, pause it, and pick up where you left off on a tablet or smartphone. At least you'll be able to do so when the Hive apps for iOS and Android mobile devices are ready. The Hive website doesn't give a timeline for those apps.
Hive specializes in music and video files, which allows optimization of files for fastest uploading, compact storage, rapid retrieval, and smooth playing. But you can also use it for documents, spreadsheets, photos, and other file types. You can upload to your Hive with drag & drop from your hard drive, import from Dropbox, or give it a web link and Hive will grab the file for you.
Limiting the Unlimited
You can invite friends (up to 300) to connect with you on Hive and share files. Note that friends can see ALL your files, except for those in the Transfer or Trash folders. But you can also click a folder and lock it, which makes it private. Hive does limit your uploads to 50GB per week, and has a maximum file size of 20GB.
QVIVO stores users’ files on cloud service providers Amazon S3 and Cloudfront. But all data that links a user to a cloud-stored file is kept on QVIVO’s servers in nations that are not NSA-friendly, to say the least. (Limiting the government's access to your files is a good thing, if you care about privacy.)
The “free unlimited cloud storage” bit is true; of course, some users want more than just a hard drive in the sky. Hive makes money by charging $9.99/month for their Premium service, which eliminates the ads, gives you faster download speeds, and lets you do HD streaming of your music and videos. Hive is currently in Beta mode, during which time the Premium features will be free. When the Beta period ends, you can work your way back to “really free” by recruiting 10 or more acquaintances to Hive.
QVIVO offers an API to Web developers who want to offer Hive-like customized services to their users. Hive is a demonstration of how that works, apparently. We’ll see if it really works or if Hive goes away as swiftly as a Bittorrent swarm.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 23 Oct 2014
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