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Missing your iDisk? OpenDrive is an easy-to-use substitute

When Apple killed MobileMe and iDisk I was pretty unhappy. It was great for quick small backups, and an easy way to share files with friends by giving them access to a public or password-protected folder.

There are plenty of sync/backup solutions out there, like MediaFire, Dropbox, SugarSync and others, but I really liked the desktop mounted iDisk, that looked and acted like an external drive. Other similar options include Google Drive, SkyDrive and, of course, Apple's iCloud, but none functioned quite the way iDisk worked.

This weekend, I took a look at OpenDrive, which does a fine job of doing what iDisk used to do. You get a desktop mounted virtual drive, complete with public and private folders. You can drag anything in, or set it up to sync with any files on your computer. The system encourages collaboration, and it is easy to give someone a URL so they can download a single file, several files or a folder. Files are encrypted (AES 256) and on the Mac you get a menu bar control that opens the virtual drive. You can also mange everything from a web browser that lets you set up folders, security and get direct links to files.

OpenDrive has a free subscription option that gives you 5 GB of space. There are various plans starting at US $5.00 a month for 100 GB storage, and 25 GB/Day bandwidth. With increasing costs you get more storage, up to 1 TB, custom branding and more daily bandwidth.

I tried the free solution and it worked well. In fact, it was very much like my old iDisk. I dragged in some files, and easily shared them with friends through a browser GUI that allows them to view a file if it's a video or photo, or download it. Documentation is a little thin and I'd like to see built-in help.

For backup or syncing OpeDrive has plenty of competition, but for pretty much capturing the spirit of the iDisk, OpenDrive is fairly unique. Pricing is reasonable, and even the free 5 GB plan will probably be very useful for people doing casual file exchanges. There are some file size limits. The $5 home plan limits file sizes to 1 GB, the $15 Office plan ups that to 3 GB, and the $25 Pro plan allows 5 GB files.

OpenDrive works as advertised. The company offers free iOS and Android apps for sharing between portable devices, and Macs and Windows computers are supported with feature-complete applications. You can also use the service with a browser.

OpenDrive is just one way to handle backup, sync and file sharing, but it closely replicates what iDisk provided and adds even more features. If you miss the ease of use of iDisk, OpenDrive is worth a try, especially since you can see if it meets your needs at no cost.

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