Lima: Secure Personal Cloud At Last

I’ve been busy over at my other show exploring insider data theft and IT sabotage.  Thankfully my long awaited beta version of Lima showed up in the mail, so I now had something to write about for TvB. Yay!

To refresh memories—mine included—Lima turns a USB-based disk drive into a cloud service.With Lima on your home network, there’s no need to deal with Google, DropBox, et. al., along with the privacy and data security issues that comes with the public cloud.

I installed the Lima software on my Mac, which turns it into the mother ship for file content. Lima adds a new drive to the file system. So if there’s something I think is cloud worthy, say, a train schedule or a fascinating academic research article on data theft, I copy it into the cloud drive. Lima is also on my iPhone and iPad. I can access my delicious content on all my small screens.

What’s going in the background? You can read this FAQ answer on the Lima support site for all the details. It appears that P2P is being set up between devices behind the firewall, when possible. And then Lima networking software will reach out to your router and the greater Internet when direct device access isn’t available.

The rectangular cuboid that came in the mail from Lima is really the guts of the personal cloud. It allows your devices to access offline content when the mothership, Mac or other laptop, is down. When you right click on a file in the Lima drive, you’re given the option of storing data on the drive connected to the Lima hardware. In my case, it’s a simple USB thumb drive. But there’s no reason I couldn’t have 100s of Gigabytes of cloud storage accessible with a real hard drive.

Once in the Lima cloud, my files—currently a few documents, and a podcast—are available on all my mobile-ware. The whole point of cloud storage is convenience. I could easily have initially copied some of my content into my iPhone. But then going forward, ever time I wanted to make a change or add new files, I’d have to spend a long morning getting everything in sync. And that’s where the file sync part of Lima makes it all so easy.

Lima is a Kickstarter project to which I donated around $8o or $90—I forget. It was worth the wait.  Lima works fine—though there are some delays and a few quirks. I had to reformat my drive after I installed Lima the first time, resulting in the software not recognizing my offline storage. Yeah, so I went back to the beginning, and re-installed everything.

For now, you’re only allowed to push content into the USB drive connected to the Lima hardware from your laptop. Eventually they will allow unification: any device would be able to store into the Lima personal cloud thereby creating a giant networked file system. Neat!

This is great work from yet another French-based company.  I wouldn’t hesitate recommending Lima for security minded folks who don’t trust the big cloud providers or don’t want to pay the fees.