Ricoh, the Japanese digital office solutions company, is announcing a new iPhone app from its Quanp subsidiary. The Bottom Line Space Monkey's alternative cloud service is cheaper and offers more than its competitors, but you need to invest time and effort to set it up. Cloud storage meets local storage with Space Monkey, an alternative way to store your files online that uses a small desktop hard drive and network of other Space Monkey subscribers. When you add a new item to Space Monkey, you'll see a small syncing icon in the lower left of the file icon. You can view your files from any phone, tablet or computer that's connected to the Internet, and the cloud can also provide backup for files so they'll never disappear if your phone gets lost or your computer crashes. Instead of sending your files to a large data center, like most other cloud services do, they are broken into tiny chunks which are then encrypted and sent to the Space Monkey drives that belong to other users. Once it has fully synced to your drive, you'll see a spaceship icon that lets you know your file is in the cloud.
You'll just see your files syncing with the Space Monkey network, and then be able to recall those files any time, in the same amount it takes to open a file in any other cloud storage service.
For $50 per year, which is a steal, you get one terabyte of storage, but only after you purchase the $200 2 terabyte (yes, 2TB) drive to use the service. You can also choose to pin an item in your drive, which means it's available offline, even if it never fully synced to the cloud.
For that reason, I've compiled a guide to the most popular cloud storage services, covering how they work and their strengths and weaknesses. 2 on the Japanese App Store in the Productivity category after its release in Japan earlier this month. Since Space Monkey bills itself as an all-in-one cloud storage system, I am not going to focus on the hard drive's performance, but instead the entire cloud service, including the desktop and mobile apps. This setup is nearly identical to all the big, popular consumer cloud storage services including Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.

While you must buy the hard drive to use Space Monkey, you're really buying into the whole cloud network, because out of the box, you can't use the hard drive unless it's connected to your Internet service.
Just download a download a desktop client, drag your files over to the cloud folders, and they'll sync to the cloud, so you can get to them anywhere with an Internet connection. One interesting angle of the Quanp product is a function called "Flick File," which allows you to send files back and forth via Bluetooth.
Overall, managing files with Space Monkey is just as effortless as working with Dropbox and other competing services. It reminds me of the old days of beaming business cards to Palm devices, or more recently of the Bump social-networking application.
Space Monkey's low-cost cloud storage, with enough space to store thousands of photos, documents, videos, and songs, is a good option if you're in need of a place to backup your files, or just want to access them from anywhere. I've been watching Ricoh's Quanp organization work its way through the ins and outs of Silicon Valley for the past year and a half.
Their online storage service--they call it "visual" online storage due to the fancy 3D interface of their PC client--has potential to help handle the deluge of data we are creating at home. First, to create your account, just head to the company's Web site and choose an email and password combination.
The vast majority of computer users don't have great backup habits, and with more and more people embracing mobile devices and data usage rates on smartphones skyrocketing, the lack of backups is only going to get worse. I asked Sho Harada, general manager of Ricoh's Quanp team, to answer a range of questions about what Japan, known as a kind of cell phone utopia, can learn from U.S. Plug it into a power source, and connect it to your router through any open Ethernet port using the included Ethernet cable.
The drive will start to connect to your network, and you should see small lights come on around the Ethernet port on the device. Every day brings interesting developments, and the reliance of open--or semi-open systems--to popularize technologies is fascinating, he said.

Once the drive connects to your Internet connection, you can launch the Space Monkey software to get to start the set up process, which includes provisioning the drive. Harada told CNET that Apple's iPhone is brilliant, but it would just be a fancy cell phone if it weren't for the App Store and the opportunity for tens of thousands of developers and designers to push Apple's product in innovative and interesting ways. This was a tedious process for me, because my drive didn't automatically connect and I had to unplug it and plug it back in. It took several minutes for the drive to connect to my computer and show up in the Space Monkey app. Then, it took another five minutes for my drive to finish setting up so that I could start adding files. In my experience, it's faster, start to finish, to sign up for and get started with a cloud service such as Dropbox or Google Drive.Put your files in your own cloud Once your drive is online, storing files on it is as easy dragging the file from its original location on your computer and dropping it into your Space Monkey folder.
Like Dropbox, or Google Drive, there's a dedicated folder in your computer's file system just for Space Monkey.
Japanese consumers have depended on cell phones for a wide range of daily activities for years now. By default, there are sub-folders for Documents, Photos, and Video, but you can also create new folders and organize your files anyway you'd like. The Japanese language has dense information capabilities and a cultural focus on writing--as opposed to speaking. That's different from Dropbox and Google Drive, both which move your file off your hard drive and into the cloud.View full gallery The power, Ethernet, and USB ports on the drive.

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