Online backup services like Dropbox have a new rival. This time, though, the service, called Zovo Backup, is promising unlimited storage space online.
The company, founded by self-described “serial entrepreneur” Hamlesh Motah — he previously ran managed IT services businesses — says it will offer unlimited online storage at low cost. Many rival companies put limits on the amount of data that can be stored on their servers.
In order to generate interest in the service, the company ran a viral campaign promising users who signed up, and got five other people to do likewise, free accounts once the service launched. Motah says this resulted in about 7 000 sign-ups, and that the first invitations to the service were rolled out to these users over the last two weeks.
Zovo offers two packages: basic and pro. The latter includes features such as the Dropbox-like “zovoDrive” that keeps files synchronised across multiple devices, the ability to edit documents online, the ability to upload and download files from a Zovo account using the file transfer protocol, and priority support services.
Both packages offer unlimited storage space, bandwidth and transfer speeds, the ability to back up data from multiple devices, stream content to mobile devices, access files via a Web portal and a 30-day version history that records any changes to files which can be undone within the 30-day window.
The basic package costs £19,99/year (currently free if users recommend the system to friends); the pro package costs £49,99.
Considering that 1TB of space on Amazon’s cloud drive costs US$1 000/year, Zovo has priced itself well beneath the competition.
Zovo is developing applications for Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS and, when combined with its Web-based interface, users will be able to access their content anywhere they can get online.
Motah, who has largely self-funded the project, says Zovo is working on additional features for business users “including backup for databases, Microsoft Exchange and Oracle systems”.
The service was launched two weeks ago and so far the majority of interest has come from UK, where the company is based. SA is the tenth biggest source of Zovo users. The company operates from two data centres in London but plans to expand beyond London within six months.
“We have some infrastructure in the US and Europe already, but it’s purely administrative,” says Motah. Zovo had looked at SA data centres, but says they were too expensive to be feasible.
Zovo users will soon have the same functionality provided by services like Dropbox, albeit without the storage limits. The iOS application has been submitted to Apple for approval, while an Android version should be available in the next two months.
The apps will allow users to access any of the files they’ve stored on Zovo from their mobile devices. It will also enable users to stream audio and video content, regardless of format, to a device as well as allow them to upload content directly from mobile devices to their Zovo accounts.
Although Zovo has only been operational for two weeks, and is still rolling out invitations to those who signed up before the launch, Motah says the model is sustainable.
“We need a roughly 1% conversion rate between our free backup offering and our premium service. Currently, about 1,3% of users are opting for our premium product. Additional revenue comes from our business offering, which is priced more in line with what other business service providers are offering.”
Motah says the intention isn’t to “monetise free accounts, but at the end of the day we are a business and if the marketplace changes we may have to adapt and monetise in future”.
“If we do eventually have to do so, it won’t be at the current price point, but considerably lower.”
Zovo also offers users the ability to encrypt their data before it is uploaded. Though it isn’t set by default because it affects upload speed and usually isn’t necessary. However, all data is encrypted before being stored and every account has a unique key for this.
“We can’t see what users have uploaded or updated,” Motah says. “We can only see a reference to where it is, to whom it belongs, and how big it is. The only way your security can be compromised is if someone gets your password, or access to your machine.”
Those interested in Zovo Backup can get a free basic account by going to http://zovo.co/social and inviting three friends to try the service via Facebook. — Craig Wilson, TechCentral