It seems that it wasn’t long ago that I stood marvelling at a graphic designer friend of mine as he produced from his (painfully trendy) shoulder bag a portable hard drive.

It was the size of a two telephone directories and judging by the relief on his face when he put it down it weighed as much as two telephone boxes. That was only a couple of years ago and since then, the means of carrying your essential files with you have become smaller, faster and more sophisticated, with dirt-cheap DVD burners, flash drives and even MP3 players doubling as storage devices.

Diino goes one better. Once known as NetPod, Diino (that’s digital information organiser) is web-based file storage and networking environment that can be accessed from any PC, anywhere in the world.

Simply download the software, create your account and upload your files.
Er, that’s it.

The interface is simplicity itself. Clean, straightforward and totally uncluttered, the Diino portal appears as a set of default folders to store your pictures, music files, videos and other documents. Obviously you can customise your folders to reflect your home environment, and depending on the level of your Diino account (the basic package is 10 gigabytes) you can upload all the essentials from your hard drive.

Away from home, access is granted through a nifty credit card-sized CD key. Pop this into the drive of any PC and you’re immediately able to access your remotely stored folders. But this is where the first minor glitch hits: slot-loading machines might well swallow the key whole! That aside (and I’m sure Diino could provide a full-sized disk if required) it’s a neat solution.

The other major problem was the fact that uploading your files will take a long time unless you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated ISDN line. Broadband upload speeds are still generally limited to 256kps, which when you’re trying to upload 10 gig worth of data, will take quite a while.

But, once your files are in the system, you can start utilising Diino’s full potential. Each folder or sub-folder can be shared with anyone you like. By entering the email addresses of the recipients you can invite people to view, edit and download your files. This access can be as restricted or as open as you choose: MP3s for example can be set for streaming only - handy considering potential copyright issues. You set a password based on the individual folders shared so you don’t need to worry about people snooping around in other areas.

A free email address also comes with your account - but this can only be accessed via the Diino interface.

Price when reviewed:
Prices vary on storage space

More elegant than dragging a hard drive around with you and perfect for sharing pictures, movies and music with friends and family. For heavy business users, the upload speeds might be a little restrictive.