I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the general excellentness of Strongspace. Strongspace does one thing: it sells secure (SFTP, rsync) disk space on well-maintained remote servers. What it really sells, though, is customer service.
The Strongspace website makes it easy to sign up for an account, easy to pay for an account, and easy to use an account. And when things go wrong, they’ve got a real person — his name is Justin — to answer questions. Quickly and completely.
David Cairns taught me an important lesson more than a decade ago: it’s not if your hard drive is going to fail, it’s when. Hard drives are tiny machines that are moving all the time; they have to fail eventually. Now think of all the email, photos, music, and whatever else you have on your computer that you’ve neglected to back up. Now imagine it gone. Forever. Now go and sign up for a Strongspace account and back your stuff up: for $8/month, it’s worth it, and you’ll be supporting a good group of people doing a good thing well.
Strongspace is one of an interesting new breed of web offerings that do simple, important things well. Let’s call them “microservice companies.” Unlike Yahoo!, which wants to sell you love, sell you greeting cards and heal your dog, these new microservice companies leverage open source software, commodity hardware, commodity bandwidth, and smart people to create useful tools.
And because these tools are built on open standards by open people, they can often be combined in interesting ways. Flickr (yes, I know, owned by Yahoo! — a microservice mouse inside a all-in-one elephant) photos can live inside Plazes. Bookmarks from del.icio.us can be read inside NetNewsWire. My blog posts can be digested by Technorati, and then fed back to me as an RSS feed.
In a sense what we’re seeing is the implementation of the UNIX command-line philosophy — a bunch of small, simple tools that can be combined together to become more powerful — on the web. It’s fascinating to watch, and compelling to consider the possibilities of getting involved.
Did I mention that your hard drive is going to fail?
Lack of disclaimer: I’ve no connection, other than as a satisfied customer, with Strongspace and I receive nothing other than good karma if you sign up.