UC Berkeley and Dropbox offer free storage

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As students increasingly use the internet to share music and collaborate on projects, online storage space is becoming a precious commodity.

UC Berkeley and the cloud-based file sharing site Dropbox have begun separate efforts to provide free storage space for students.

Dropbox launched a contest Monday which pits universities from across the globe against each other and challenges them to raise enough points to win up to 25GB of storage for each student enrolled at the winning institution for two years.

In March, UC Berkeley signed a $100,000 contract with Internet2 — a not-for-profit networking consortium of universities and corporations worldwide — to provide faculty, staff and students with 25 GB of storage for two years through Box.com.

With over 7,600 students signed up in Dropbox’s “Great Space Race,” the campus is currently in sixth place. Together, the “space racers” from UC Berkeley have accumulated over 15,700 points by referring friends to join the competition and reviewing introductory guides of how to use Dropbox. Currently, the National University of Singapore leads the contest, which will continue until Dec. 10.

In contrast, over 3,600 students have registered to use the campus’s customized Box.com storage system in its pilot phase, which allows members of the campus community to share files among themselves.

Although Dropbox and Box.com are both cloud-based websites, campus officials say a major difference between the two is how each caters to their audience.

“(Box.com is) concentrating on an enterprise or an institutional space rather than a consumer space,” said Patrick McGrath, associate director of content management technologies at UC Berkeley.

Still, the campus-based file-sharing system is relatively unknown to the general student body because the Box.com contract remains in a pilot phase.

Some students have been hesitant to participate in the Box.com pilot because of their familiarity with Dropbox, which is a much more popular file sharing site than Box.com.

“I’ve been considering switching (to Box) but my familiarity with Dropbox combined with this new boost in storage space will probably prevent me from moving over,” said Josh Muhlfelder, a campus senior majoring in computer science, in an email. “I like Box’s enterprise-oriented approach … and I’m looking forward to seeing how both options develop.”

Bill Allison, director of campus technology services, said one of the reasons officials choose Box.com to create a campus-based file-sharing network was that it allowed them to protect institutional data.

“The work that’s being done by the IT department on this — the focus of that work is the business of the campus, the academic portion of the campus,” said Ben Gold, communications manager for office of the campus chief information officer.

The campus-based network also allows users to download a mobile app and search the campus directory for other members of the UC Berkeley community when sharing files.

Officials maintain that Box.com will be a viable competitor for other file-sharing systems.

“I have a huge amount of faith that the model that they’ve got and the team that they’ve got and partnership that we have are extremely encouraging,” McGrath said. “That said, it’s a very fast moving marketplace right now.”


Contact Gladys Rosario at [email protected].