Innovative i-Drive Makes File Storage and Sharing a SnapBy Emily Yaghmour
It's 5 p.m., you need to finish a document that's due tomorrow, and you have to pick up your kids. You save the file to a disk and take it home. After dinner, you insert the disk in your computer. A screen pops up: "The system cannot read from the specified drive." You reboot, scan for viruses, but nothing. The disk is corrupted.
A new product called i-drive may make this nightmare vanish. Created by a San Francisco-based company, i-drive securely stores files on the web so you can access them from any computer that uses a standard browser connected to the Internet.
Last fall, George Mason joined a development consortium of 10 universities, including UCLA, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford, that will test the product and provide the company with feedback on ways to improve and enhance it. Keith Segerson, executive director of University Computing and Information Systems (UCIS), says this arrangement is good for George Mason: the university can influence the product's development so its features meet the needs of Mason users; the university receives a cobranded site for its own users ("cobranded" means that the George Mason University logo will be placed alongside the i-drive logo); and George Mason has been guaranteed no-cost, commercial-free access. The company will profit through online vendor advertisements visible only to nonconsortium users.
I-drive can be used to share files between two or more users, and it also contains other useful features, such as a "scrapbook" in which you can store information gleaned from the web rather than simply bookmarking pages. "This is a beta product," Segerson cautions, so he doesn't expect it to be perfect, but he's excited about the conveniences it will offer once it is fully developed. If you are interested in giving i-drive a spin, sign up through http://idrive.gmu.edu.