There are lots of cloud storage services to choose from — but they all limit the amount of storage you get to some number of gigabytes, or cost money (sometimes both). When you hit a cap, you have to start deleting your files or, shudder, open a new account with a new service. Until now: Enter Hive.
Hive, which launched October 13 this year and was included in this week’s Cool Websites & Tools, is…
The first free unlimited cloud service in the world.
That’s a bold claim, so there are a few important things you need to know that make it stand apart from lots of other cloud services. Hive doesn’t offer syncing, and unlike other cloud services, other people can’t delete things from ‘shared folders’ — they can only download.
For the privacy conscious: Hive is ad-supported, and reserves the right to screen your files, so look elsewhere for storing private files.
These things make Hive a good place to dump neat, innocent things for your friends and family to access, but not a good place for confidential, intimate, or work materials.
Getting Started With Hive
You can create a free account with Hive via email or with a social network. Hive asks that all users have a profile picture so it’s easier to identify your friends.
After you get your account set up, your Hive will be empty. The interface as a whole is simple and clean, but can only be accessed on a browser wide enough (if you narrow your browser window the interface will disappear and request pops up to widen your browser). Hive also has apps for iOS and Android devices coming out soon.
Uploading & Sharing
Hive takes care of all your photos, your music collections, and your video libraries. When your friends add files, you’ll see updates that look something like this:
You can upload your files from a device or paste in a web link to files you want to add to your Hive. When the upload is complete, the file will be in your Transfer folder.
Move files to your intended folder for storage, and choose to share it with particular friends, or lock the folder for your access only.
Once a download starts,you will have up to 4 hours to complete before the session times out. For the time being, Hive is limiting the number of videos and songs that can be uploaded at a time. If you try to upload multiple videos, it will allow you to upload the largest one only. If you try to upload multiple songs, the first one hundred will go before you have to return and upload another hundred.
The experience of using Hive is a little clunky. You can’t upload whole folders at once, so you may need to manually recreate a folder structure you have on your desktop. It’s frustrating that, unlike Dropbox or OneDrive, you can’t upload to exactly the folder you wish — all files go to the ‘Transfers’ private folder and then have to be moved internally.
I uploaded two small files (less than 1MB) which didn’t take long, but they stayed in the Processing stage for what felt like a full minute before they were marked “In Your Hive!”. A 9.3 MB song I tried to upload sat in the Processing stage for more than 30 minutes.
The Beta stage has some spelling mistakes here and there, and the file download button is labeled “Download to Mac” even though I’m using a PC, but many of these things should be fixed in the near-term.
The Premium Version
You might be wondering how Hive makes money. Hive is ad-supported, but the Premium version (which is available for free until the beta-period is over) lets you remove them. Hive’s Premium accounts also let you stream high quality music and HD video, and uncap your download and streaming speed to use your full bandwidth.
Hive Premium starts at $9 monthly. However, the more friends you have, the less the premium version costs. If you have over 100 friends, the premium version is free.
Terms & Services, Privacy & Security
I want to re-iterate that it’s bold to claim to provide free, unlimited file storage. Expect a catch.
I rarely read Terms & Conditions (I, like many of you, would rather risk signing my soul away than suffer through legalese that probably won’t impact me anyway), but I did this time for you, my dear readers. The following are some pertinent points that I’ve freed from legal jargon from Hive’s Terms & Services section.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, so don’t take this as legal advice. The below information reflects Hive’s Terms & Services as of this writing only; Hive may update their terms whenever they want, and the onus is on you to check for changes.
Hive’s headquarters is Hong Kong, China. I reached out to Hive to inquire about regarding the implications of this, and Hive CEO Thierry Lehartel had this to say:
The company is incorporated in Hong Kong but 100% of our infrastructure is running out of Germany. We are taking privacy and security very seriously and this is the reason why we have as partner and investor Link11 who is a leading German anti-DDOS security provider. In addition Germany offers on the most [sic] stringent framework for data and privacy laws and no customer information will ever be released unless required by law.
Make of his answer what you will.
Hive may (but has no obligation to) pre-screen, flag, filter, modify, refuse, or remove any content. I imagine that by ‘modify’ Hive means (as specified in their T&S section “Your Permissions And Instructions to Hive”) that Hive may make changes to files to conform and adapt to technical requirements of connecting networks, devices, services, or media.
If you use a disproportionately high amount of Hive’s resources, or if Hive suspects you’re profiting from their service, they can terminate your account after an email warning, if you don’t respond. So, don’t ruin it for everyone. Of course, they don’t specify what counts as ‘disproportionate’, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Hive may cease service at any time without notice. Though you shouldn’t expect otherwise from any cloud service.
You are only permitted to use Hive to manage and play lawfully acquired files from your own personal collection that you have the right to store/retrieve/share. So keep your unlawfully acquired files on your own storage devices, capisce? Not that you would have any unlawfully acquired files.
You are not permitted to use Hive for illegal file-sharing, or to operate your own content application. But you weren’t going to do those things anyway.
You must ensure your files are free from malicious or harmful code. No one should need to say it twice: don’t ruin it for everyone.
Hive may use/disclose your personal information to law enforcement or to their partners. At least they’re up-front about it?
* Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this post, Hive has clarified their privacy and security policies with a strong pledge.
What to Expect
Thierry Lehartel told me that a mobile version of the web app will be coming, including an offline mode.
We have a lot of ideas on experience and how the platform could be used but we will wait for user feedback before moving ahead. On the platform, short term is really Quality of Experience and making sure the application and streaming are fast and high quality. New features will come in due time but we want the foundation to be rock-solid.
Will You Use Hive?
Hive seems ideal for simple, social file-sharing between friends. Hive could be a great place to put videos of your indie band’s jam sessions for friends to stream, photos for relatives to download, or Creative Commons-licenced DRM-free music or games for siblings to share. Hive doesn’t seem the most appropriate place to store files for work, especially since at this time there is no desktop application or syncing folder.
What do you think? Is there a place for Hive in your life? A spot in between “I’m going to put this up on Facebook” where files quickly fall off your friends’ newsfeeds, and “I’m going to put this file in Dropbox/Google Drive” where files can only be accessed and edited by select individuals?
Did Hive’s CEO adequately assuage concerns of privacy, security, and the company headquarters based in China? How do you feel about your data being stored in Germany instead of in the United States? Is anywhere more secure than right at home?
Image Credit: Hive Logo Light via hive.im