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Online, Perpetual Document Storage at a Fixed Price

For enterprises looking to safeguard their data permanently, a new player to the "storage in the cloud" approach is pitching a seemingly perpetual data repository for business documents.

iForem's storage strategy is akin to protecting house deeds in a fire-proof lockbox or keeping treasured jewelry secured in a bank vault -- items valuable in nature but to which daily or even regular access isn't needed.

The difference is data housing: Instead of a physical vault, iForem's vault is online.

Corporate documents -- whether they are patent paperwork, incorporation documents or research data -- all need strong protection that goes beyond traditional server or online backup services, according to iForem.

That's where the perpetual aspect comes into play. iForem created a financial trust that protects documents and digital assets for life. Users pay a one-time fee to sign up.

According to the plan, no matter what happens to the company -- say, if iForem goes bankrupt or is sold -- the data remains safe and protected thanks to the trust, iForem founder and CEO Stephen Pieraldi said.

"Most enterprises and users are still concerned about hackers and about data loss when a services provider closes down," Pieraldi told InternetNews.com. "Our system provides authentication and encryption beyond the given password system, and never ends."

iForem offers four vault sizes, ranging from "Basic" for $20 (which will house about 400 Microsoft Word documents and 150 PDFs as well as 40 iPhone pictures) to the $500 "Gold" vault, where companies can store 10,000 Word files, 4,000 PDFs and 800 phone pictures.

Yet the online vault approach isn't the solution for storing every single piece of data, Pieraldi said.

"This is for those very important corporate documents -- data that falls under regulations, information that has to be kept but not necessarily pulled out of storage at any point," he said.

As one storage analyst described, such storage options can prove very useful as part of an overall data retention approach.

"I can see this being a good strategy for documents like software licenses, even financial account information and intellectual property," Deni Connor, principal analyst at Storage Now, told InternetNews.com. "Doing storage online isn't new, but providing this level of eternal protection is."

For one of the country's largest and oldest sailing schools, the technology's not only protecting valuable business documents, but saving valuable physical space that had been consumed by both piles of paper documentation and on-site computer storage.

Michael Spranger, an instructor and IT lead for OCSC Sailing in San Francisco, explained to InternetNews.com that it adopted iForem's solution as the school's data pile began growing every year.

"We have some Microsoft servers and were doing nightly backups and trying to keep up with digitizing documents," Spranger said. "The one-time upfront costs of the iForem solution, and what it offers, made much more business sense to us.

"This is going to save us time and money," he said, adding that the school saves data ranging from confidential student documents to IRS revenue reports. "The paper trail can be a huge labor expense and we're likely going to save the cost of a seasonal employee in moving to this technology."

In addition to the vault options, iForem offers a slew of consumer-geared storage services as well.

Three $9.95 "digital lifestyle" tools include a password wallet that provides "perpetual" password storage; a software-licensing tracker and even a recipe collector tool. The company sells all four plus other features in a $29.95 bundle.

"Having just one cost, up front, is an approach that makes sense as storage solution costs typically just keep adding up as data adds up," Spranger said.