Five-year-old bootstrapped startup Avatron Software is today launching a Kickstarter project to help develop its new software platform, Everydisk. Everydisk will let people easily access and interact with all their files, on any of their computers, from anywhere in the world. Everydisk is an alternative to costly and high profile cloud storage solutions that may be targets of hackers, spies, and others seeking access to our personal demographic data.
Whereas cloud solutions like Dropbox and Google Drive offer storage space on servers governed by arcane and compromising user agreements, Everydisk establishes direct, secure connections between a user’s devices and the increasingly affordable desktop hard drives attached to them.
How Everydisk works:
Avatron’s web-based server platform maintains a registry of each user’s computers. When a user logs in, they are presented with a menu of their connected devices. Once the connection is made between the user and their remote computers, no data goes through Avatron’s server. User data always stays on machines directly in the user’s control.
The resulting data security comes at a time when privacy consciousness is a hot mainstream issue, due in part to the revelation that the National Security Agency’s PRISM program has been analyzing the data of millions of U.S. citizens. A recent study by the Cloud Security Alliance estimates that PRISM could cost U.S. cloud companies $35–45 billion. Forrester analyst James Staten suggests in a blog post that the damage could be as high as $180 billion.
Avatron is using Kickstarter to fund its latest project. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding service that allows people to contribute to projects they believe in. Avatron’s founder, former Apple engineering manager Dave Howell, explains, “The rise of Kickstarter’s crowdfunding model is an important step in a worldwide trend toward democratization of technology, and we see it as an important new way to develop the products our customers want.”
Companies that use Kickstarter to launch apps get to talk directly with their customers as the software is being developed. The project’s backers have the opportunity to influence the feature sets and design of apps they are interested in. The results are better products and an enthusiastic user base.
Avatron is right in the center of the technology democratization trend. “Apple revolutionized the software business with its App Store,” says Howell. “The App Store allowed little independent developers with no production facilities or marketing budgets to develop and distribute hugely successful apps.” One of the first companies in the App Store, Avatron has been creating popular productivity apps since 2008, helping people connect their mobile devices and computers in new ways. The company’s Air Sharing app, a document-reader app that turned an iPhone into a wireless hard drive, was downloaded by over a million users in its first two weeks in the App Store. Avatron’s Air Display app turns an iPad into a second (or third) monitor for a Mac or PC. And Air Login lets people operate a remote computer from an iPad or iPhone.
Avatron’s latest app, Everydisk, lets people work with all of their files, free from the limitations and privacy concerns built into cloud storage products. Howell asks “Why should we have to pay hundreds of dollars per year for cloud storage when desktop hard drives are so affordable?” And working with cloud storage requires forethought: files must be copied into a special folder in order to be accessible remotely.
Ken Westin, Security Researcher at Tripwire, says, “Recent news about the NSA’s dragnet data mining, along with concerns about the ‘summer of Snowden,’ have really raised public awareness of the vulnerability of private files in cloud storage. Avatron couldn’t be launching Everydisk at a better time.”
Visit the Everydisk Kickstarter project page here.
Backers will have the opportunity to beta test the service and receive a free subscription in exchange for supporting the project. The project launched on December 26, 2013 and will run through January 25, 2014.
UPDATE: The Everydisk campaign was successful, coming in at $51,309, with 655 backers.