A few months back, I came across a Facebook advert for Lima – a cloud storage solution that removes the subscription from the model. After reading up on it, it sounded great and I put my order in for one of their devices. There was a waiting list due to demand but after a week or so, I was able to order and immediately did so. I’ve used it for a month or so now and it has changed my thinking on cloud storage.
What is Lima?
Lima is a small device which connects your broadband router at home or work to an external hard drive. Once connected, you install some software on any and all computers, mobiles and tablets you wish to connect to it and the hard drive becomes accessible from all of them. Moving files to and from the drive is exactly like it is for anyother hard drive you connect to your computer. It shows up as another hard drive that you can simply drag and drop to. So long as you have an internet connection, you can access the files from anywhere. In effect, it’s a cloud storage account except you own the cloud.
The main advantage of Lima is that once you buy the device ($100 or so) there are no further charges. Your storage capacity is limited only by how big a hard drive you want to connect to it. To give you an idea, a 1TB Dropbox subscription is around £80 per year, every year. To get 1TB on Lima, you need to buy a 1TB hard drive (between £50-80) and a Lima (around £80 also) and you’ve got 1TB for life for £160. If you want more than 1TB, you simply use a larger hard drive.
What else does it do?
Lima also comes with iOS and Android native apps so you can use it on tablets and smartphones. Providing your internet connection is strong enough, you can stream you music and videos from the hard drive without taking up storage on your device. Lima also lets you keep particular files and folders offline for quick access.
In terms of security, Lima uses military grade encryption on all communications between devices. No data is stored on any servers anywhere – just on your hard drive and the devices you have connected to it.
Lima will also back up your camera roll from your mobile devices automatically (unless you ask it not to).
What does it not do?
There are some features missing from Lima in my opinion. Browser access is one of them. With Dropbox or Google Drive, you can sign in to any browser and get to your files. With Lima, you can only access them on machines you have installed the software on. However, Lima’s Product Roadmap has this coming a couple of versions down the line. Also the mobile app is a bit low on features at the moment (such as the ability to save from Lima to Camera Roll) but again this should bulk up in time.
Another missing feature that is also on the product roadmap is the ability to send links to data stored on Lima and selectively share folders with others. Anyone who is an avid Dropbox user may well demand this before considering the switch.
Is it worth it?
In pure financials, yes. If you have the need for large amounts of cloud storage, it’s definitely more cost effective than Dropbox. In fact, I’ve now cancelled my Dropbox renewal just this week. The basic free Dropbox account is more than enough to cover shared folders I need and files and folders I may need to send links to.
In terms of features, Lima is still a bit light when compared with the current cloud storage favourites. But it should only be a matter of time before it catches up. Once browser access and sharing functions get an upgrade, the whole cost model of cloud storage needs to be given some serious consideration. It’s the classic buy or lease scenario. For me, Lima is a game changer. I now have a 4TB personal cloud that is secure and accessible but is also bought and paid for.
What will be interesting to observe, is whether more providers follow Lima into this market. Company after company has tried to emulate Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive. Most people have at least one form or another of cloud storage (whether they use it or not). But is Lima’s pivot on this model a sign of people changing their thinking on having their data stored on servers in multiple different countries at any one time?