File hosting service
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File hosting service

A file hosting service, cloud storage
service, online file storage provider, or cyberlocker is an Internet hosting
service specifically designed to host user files. It allows users to upload
files that could then be accessed over the internet from a different computer,
tablet, smart phone or other networked device, by the same user or possibly by
other users, after a password or other authentication is provided. Typically,
the services allow HTTP access, and sometimes FTP access. Related services
are content-displaying hosting services, virtual storage, and remote backup.
Uses =Personal file storage=
Personal file storage services are aimed at private individuals, offering a sort
of “network storage” for personal backup, file access, or file
distribution. Users can upload their files and share them publicly or keep
them password-protected. Document-sharing services allow users to
share and collaborate on document files. These services originally targeted files
such as PDFs, word processor documents, and spreadsheets. However many remote
file storage services are now aimed at allowing users to share and sychronize
all types of files across all the devices they use.
=File sync and sharing services=File syncing and sharing services are
file hosting services which allow users to create special folders on each of
their computers or mobile devices, which the service then synchronizes so that it
appears to be the same folder regardless of which computer is used to view it.
Files placed in this folder also are typically accessible through a website
and mobile apps, and can be easily shared with other users for viewing or
collaboration. Such services have become popular via
consumer products such as Dropbox and Google Drive.
=Content caching=Content providers who potentially
encounter bandwidth congestion issues may use services specialized in
distributing cached or static content. It is the case for companies with a
major Internet presence. Storage charges
Some online file storage services offer space on a per-gigabyte basis, and
sometimes include a bandwidth cost component as well. Usually these will be
charged monthly or yearly; for example, Carbonite. Some companies offer the
service for free, relying on advertising revenue. Some hosting services do not
place any limit on how much space the user’s account can consume. Some
services require a software download which makes files only available on
computers which have that software installed, others allow users to
retrieve files through any web browser. With the increased inbox space offered
by webmail services, many users have started using their webmail service as
an online drive. Some sites offer free unlimited file storage but have a limit
on the file size. Some sites offer additional online storage capacity in
exchange for new customer referrals. One-click hosting
One-click hosting, sometimes referred to as cyberlocker, generally describes web
services that allow internet users to easily upload one or more files from
their hard drives onto the one-click host’s server free of charge.
Most such services simply return a URL which can be given to other people, who
can then fetch the file later. In many cases these URLs are predictable
allowing potential misuse of the service. As of 2005 these sites have
drastically increased in popularity, and subsequently, many of the smaller, less
efficient sites have failed. Although one-click hosting can be used for many
purposes, this type of file sharing has, to a degree, come to compete with P2P
filesharing services. The sites make money through advertising
or charging for premium services such as increased downloading capacity, removing
any wait restrictions the site may have or prolonging how long uploaded files
remain on the site. Premium services include facilities like unlimited
downloading, no waiting, maximum download speed etc. Many such sites
implement a CAPTCHA to prevent automated downloading. Several programs aid in
downloading files from these one-click hosts; examples are JDownloader,, Tucan Manager and CryptLoad. Use for copyright infringement
File hosting services may be used as a means to distribute or share files
without consent of the copyright owner. In such cases one individual uploads a
file to a file hosting service, which others can then download. Legal
assessments can be very diverse. For example, in the case of Swiss-German
file hosting service RapidShare, in 2010 the US government’s congressional
international anti-piracy caucus declared the site a “notorious illegal
site”, claiming that the site was “overwhelmingly used for the global
exchange of illegal movies, music and other copyrighted works”. But in the
legal case Atari Europe S.A.S.U. v. Rapidshare AG in Germany, the Düsseldorf
higher regional court examined claims related to alleged infringing activity
and reached the conclusion on appeal that “most people utilize RapidShare for
legal use cases” and that to assume otherwise was equivalent to inviting “a
general suspicion against shared hosting services and their users which is not
justified”. The court also observed that the site removes copyrighted material
when asked, does not provide search facilities for illegal material, noted
previous cases siding with RapidShare, and after analysis the court concluded
that the plaintiff’s proposals for more strictly preventing sharing of
copyrighted material – submitted as examples of anti-piracy measures
RapidShare might have adopted – were found to be “unreasonable or pointless”.
By contrast in January 2012 the United States Department of Justice seized and
shut down the file hosting site and commenced criminal
cases against its owners and others. Their indictment concluded that
Megaupload differed from other online file storage businesses, suggesting a
number of design features of its operating model as being evidence
showing a criminal intent and venture. Examples cited included reliance upon
advertising revenue and other activities showing the business was funded by
downloads and not storage, defendants’ communications helping users who sought
infringing material, and defendants’ communications discussing their own
evasion and infringement issues. As of 2014 the case has not yet been heard.
Security The emergence of cloud storage services
have prompted much discussion on security. Security, as it relates to
cloud storage can be broken down into:=Access and integrity security=
Deals with the questions: Will the user be able to continue accessing their
data? Who else can access it? Who can change it?
Whether the user is able to continue accessing their data depends on a large
number of factors, ranging from the location and quality of their internet
connection and the physical integrity of the provider’s data center to the
financial stability of the storage provider.
The question of who can access and, potentially, change their data ranges
from what physical access controls are in place in the provider’s data center
to what technical steps have been taken, such as access control, encryption, etc.
Many cloud storage services state that they either encrypt data before it is
uploaded or while it is stored. While encryption is generally regarded as best
practice in cloud storage how the encryption is implemented is very
important. Consumer-grade, public file hosting and
synchronization services are popular, but for business use, they create the
concern that corporate information is exported to devices and cloud services
that are not controlled by the organization.
=Data encryption=Secret key encryption is sometimes
referred to as zero knowledge, meaning that only the user has the encryption
key needed to decrypt the data. Since data is encrypted using the secret key,
identical files encrypted with different keys will be different. To be truly zero
knowledge, the file hosting service must not be able to store the user’s
passwords or see their data even with physical access to the servers. For this
reason, secret key encryption is considered the highest level of access
security in cloud storage. This form of encryption is rapidly gaining
popularity, with companies such as SpiderOak being entirely zero knowledge
file storage and sharing. Since secret key encryption results in
unique files, it makes data deduplication impossible and therefore
uses more storage space. Convergent encryption derives the key
from the file content itself and means an identical file encrypted on different
computers result in identical encrypted files. This enables the cloud storage
provider to de-duplicate data blocks, meaning only one instance of a unique
file is actually stored on the cloud servers but made accessible to all
uploaders. A third party who gained access to the encrypted files could thus
easily determine if a user has uploaded a particular file simply by encrypting
it themselves and comparing the outputs. Some point out that there is a
theoretical possibility that organizations such as the RIAA, MPAA, or
a government could obtain a warrant for US law enforcement to access the cloud
storage provider’s servers and gain access to the encrypted files belonging
to a user. By demonstrating to a court how applying the convergent encryption
methodology to an unencrypted copyrighted file produces the same
encrypted file as that possessed by the user would appear to make a strong case
that the user is guilty of possessing the file in question and thus providing
evidence of copyright infringement by the user.
There is, however, no easily accessible public record of this having been tried
in court as of May 2013 and an argument could be made that, similar to the
opinion expressed by Attorney Rick G. Sanders of Aaron | Sanders PLLC in
regards to the iTunes Match “Honeypot” discussion, that a warrant to search the
cloud storage provider’s servers would be hard to obtain without other,
independent, evidence establishing probable cause for copyright
infringement. Such legal restraint would obviously not apply to the Secret Police
of an oppressive government who could potentially gain access to the encrypted
files through various forms of hacking or other cybercrime.
=Ownership security=Deals with the questions: Who owns the
data the user uploads? Will the act of uploading change the ownership?
Example: The act of uploading photos to Facebook gives Facebook an irrevocable,
unlimited license to sell the user’s picture.
See also Comparison of file hosting services
Comparison of file synchronization software
Comparison of online backup services Comparison of online music lockers
List of backup software Shared disk access

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