I've signed up for the Amazon Simple Storage Service (aka S3). It costs nothing when unused, and almost nothing when used.
My original motivation for signing up was the potential for off-site backup. You know, just in case. The worst case.
But cheap remote storage isn't enough - what I hadn't considered at all, when I signed up, was bandwidth. The upload bandwidth that my ISP provides me, for the price I'm willing to pay, is a measly 512 Mbit/s. Consider uploading a 35GB snapshot via this narrow straw of a connection. I'll let you do the math. Bottom line is that it seems I won't be using S3 for backup.
But now that I've already signed up for the service, I started looking for other ways of using it: file sharing (of the legal kind) of files that are too large to send/receive as e-mail attachments.
After some digging I found S3Fox Organizer, which provides easy access to S3 from within Firefox. It allowed me to create buckets and folders, and then upload files, and then generate time-limited URLs that I could distribute to friends and family members, in order to allow them to download these files.
It works, but it's rather cumbersome when compared to Picasa, YouTube, SkyDrive, etc. And, while cheap, it ain't free.
And it's unidirectional - I could only send files.
Receiving files to my S3 account seemed to require web development karma that I don't posses. Luckily, after some more digging, I found a relevant article at the AWS Developer Community website: Browser Uploads to S3 using HTML POST Forms. The accompanying thread of reader comments is even more useful than the article itself, since it provided a ready made PHP script for generating a working, albeit rather spartan, browser upload interface:
- AWS S3 account
- create a storage bucket and an upload folder under that bucket (I did this with S3Fox)
- PHP enabled web server (see this howto for example) that will host the upload script (I host my server at my home computer)
- download getMIMEtype.js and place it at the document root directory
- place the following PHP script at the document root directory as s3upload.php
- edit the script and plug in your own AWS access key, AWS secret key, upload bucket name, upload folder name, and maximum file size (currently set at 50MB)
- share a link to this script with anyone you want to get files from
And here's the script itself: