Wuala, among many online storage offers like xDrive, Box.net or (to certain degree) Microsoft’s Live Mesh, is unique for its own feature: it works like a P2P network.

Based on research by ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), Wuala’s core tech allows files being held in small encrypted pieces distributed across the “Wuala Grid” of users, and unlike BitTorrent, they are at the same time mirrored on Wuala’s servers. This overcome the main issue of BitTorrent requiring files must be seeded by someone else to be downloadable.

Wua.la Home Page

Users start with 1 GB of free storage, then they can buy more (sure) or trade local hard drive space for online space, one-to-one exchange. So, files of any type from others members can be stored in your computer, scared? No, in fact only the fragments of files are stored and they are not executable. Like that, your files are stored in other members’ drives but they are all encrypted locally before uploaded, nobody including Waula can see them if you don’t want to share.

Now let’s start by downloading client tool available for Windows, Mac and Linux from official site (Java is required to run the client). On Windows and Mac, simply click onto downloaded file to run and after initial update you can see all published files in tabbed categories: Images, Video, Music, Documents and Others — each divided into Tops, Featured and Recent sections.

Wuala supports social features like sharing to all or selected friends/groups, adding comments to images, video or documents.

Unfortunately, my experience with the software came to end when I tried to register so that I could further examine P2P features which I’m most excited about. The client tool just crashed whenever I reached login screen. I found no other way to register/login online to upload or get files (?)

Currently the only online storage I’m using daily to synchronize files from my home PC to company one is Live Mesh. It works nicely providing a number of methods to access files stored across computers and online. Of course technically it’s a different story but I love software that runs at first try. I’ll update this review when I can get better result running the tool.

Update: Today, I was able to register and login to Wuala service. It is one step register from client tool then you immediately own 1 GB storage. Adding some image and video files by drag-n-drop them to default Image, Video folder, the tool uploaded them in background and I could see progress from status bar or by opening “Uploads” dialog by clicking to the upload icon to show details of file queue.

Wuala provides quite a few options for sharing, commenting, contact to owner of file via e-mail or directly on Skype (if the owner published Skype ID). It also integrated to file system so that you can access files/folder stored on Wuala like any other files in your computer.

Generally, Wuala works smoothly on Mac though it still crashes after using for a while on Windows. The initial update that loads info of thousands of public files can slow down the tool a bit. Innovative technology, cross OS supports are some strong points that may lead Wuala passing other “pure” online storage services. Obviously, it is still far from the challenging position to BitTorrent until it can gather enough quantity (of files and buzz!) to change the game. However, Wuala is one of the most interesting “web 2.0″ services I’ve seen recently.

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