Jungle Disk

So, via TUAW I heard about Jungle Disk which is the first application I have seen to make use of the Amazon S3 file storage service and last night I downloaded it and had a play.

The good news is that there is massive potential here and even with the current beta release of the software I was able to upload 1,000 or so small files from my Mac and then download them onto my Windows PC without any major issues. So that is cross platform, encrypted, fully redundant file storage backed by a financially stable company for $0.15 per Gb per month. A cheap, cross platform iDisk? Good stuff.

There are plenty of rough edges in both stability and usability here (it crashed both on the Mac and on the PC) but it is beta software and so I am not going criticise that. No the main issue I have is that of the sign up process, and this could be as much Amazon’s fault as Jungle Disk’s. To use the application you have to have an account with the Amazon S3 service and it sends you over to this page on the Amazon site to register. Unfortunately the sign up pages are targeted completely at developers aiming to develop against the web service rather than consumers. After signing up, you get shown how to download the WSDL (and no consumer should ever need to see those letters next to each other) and the sign up e-mail starts with:

Greetings from Amazon Web Services,

Thank you for signing up for Amazon S3. You can now build innovative and entrepreneurial applications using this and other AWS web services.

(snip)

Who else can picture the confusion of someone attempting to replace iDisk with this? :)

This disconnect comes because I am fairly sure that Jungle Disk are not utilising S3 in the way that Amazon originally intended. Doing a little research in the S3 developer guide I am pretty sure that the boys and girls in Seattle intended Jungle Disk to own and operate one single S3 account as a file store for all of the files used by any of their users rather than have everyone sign up for an original account. That will work very well for some applications but isn’t what Jungle are trying to do just as valid? I like the idea of having my data protected by a different security key than my virtual neighbours. So, the solution? Either provide a consumer friendly sign up or provide an API to your account creation process so that I can still have my own account but it looks like a Jungle Disk account.

However this is going to be a cracking little utility that needs some work but shows a lot of promise. Am I going to use it now? No, but I will be keeping an eye on it.

One final thing, I don’t really understand how Jungle Disk are making any money on this. The software is free, the data storage and transfers are paid directly to Amazon with no cut taken by Jungle Disk. It looks like a referrer ID is getting passed to Amazon if you sign up with S3 from the Jungle Disk web site but that is a very sparse revenue generation model. I hope they have a plan :)

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21 responses to “Jungle Disk

  1. Hi,

    is this software just for filestorage or can I have access to those files through a webbrowser as well?

    Greetings
    Patrick

  2. Patrick – It’s limited to file storage.

  3. But there is no reason that someone couldnt make a web interface to it. It definately isnt web hosting though.

  4. If it is just using localhost, then you can make it on your own for….free. You just need WinXP Pro (I have now idea about OSX), enable IIS, and bingo after a few steps, you then go to ddns.com or something so you can grab an URL…

  5. You might want to be very careful about opening up the web server (on ANY O/S :) pointing at your backup files to the outside world.

  6. stopped using your mac? I really enjoy your blog and look forward more posts from you.

  7. @Kiddi:

    Definately havent stopped using it :) But I have had a couple of busy weeks. At the moment I am at http://reboot.dk so not a lot of time for writing :)

    I certainly havent permanently stopped posting though, just a busy time.

    Dave

  8. cool. I’ll just keep checking. Sometimes it’s good to be busy!

  9. any more posts or wat?

  10. any more posts?

  11. seriously, any more posts?

  12. um, hello??

  13. Taking a vacation, Dave?

  14. Sorry :)
    Just made a post now and I should be back blogging regularly soon.

  15. Jules Stoop

    Have you checked interarchy (8.1.1)
    http://www.interarchy.com/main/
    It seems to offer support for Amazon S3 from this version onward.

    And no, I’m not paid by them. I have actually never used their software. I just had to think of your article when I came across this on Daring Fireball.

  16. Hi!

    another solution for backups (although at a cost) is to use http://www.swissvault.ch/
    It is a backup service for Mac (and Win) that encrypts your data at 348-bit and sends it across the internet to a server farm hosted deep in the mountains of the Swiss Alps. Super-secure so to say. Pretty cool. About $10 per months for 1GB.

    Have fun
    Daniel


    Alexandertechnik Zurich, Switzerland

  17. I got jungle disk to work with my mac.
    It’s not real intuitive.
    And I have twenty years experience in I.T.
    Not real maclike.
    Requires you to enter lots of setup info.
    They need to make it easier to use.
    But it is inexpensive.

  18. As a Windows user, I just want to add a bit of an experience report:
    I have used Jungle Disk for about a month now on a desktop and a notebook. My intention was to test if the combination of S3, Jungle Disk, and for some uses NetDrive (which maps the Jungle Disk to a network drive) can be used for storing my iTunes library on a web drive. This would allow me to sync my iTunes libraries on both PCs, even when I am on the road.

    My setup:
    – Notebook with Windows XP SP2, connected to the Internet via WLAN/ADSL or UMTS.
    – Desktop PC with Windows XP SP2, connected to the Internet via Ethernet/ADSL

    The results are mixed. I have a part of my music collection online now. But a good part of my traffic to the S3 service was for aborted or failed upload attempts. Jungle Disk often acts up, on both PCs.

    With the current overall (in)stability of the service (S3 + Jungle Disk), I cannot really recommend it to anyone, unless it does not matter how many attempts it takes you to upload and download your data.

  19. Thats interesting, thanks for the report rcongreys.