MediaFire styles itself as more of a hosting service than a backup resource. In fact, the company even recommends Mozy if it’s pure backup you’re after. The difference is that a hosting service aims to enable file sharing. Much of the point lies in convenience for those you’re sharing with. For example, MediaFire free won’t stream media files through a shared URL in your blog, Web site, or whatnot, but MediaPro will. Similarly, you can hot link directly to files under MediaPro and skip dealing with download pages.
The catch is that MediaPro accounts only have so much hot linking/streaming bandwidth per month. If you sign up for the Bronze account ($6.97/month), you get 100GB of linking. Exceed this bandwidth and you’ll either have to upgrade accounts or wait for your next month’s bandwidth while visitors redirect to a download page. Getting rollover bandwidth for unused gigs deserves kudos. MediaPro accounts get encrypted (SSL) transfers, a 2GB file size limit, direct linking, and no ads. The free accounts miss these benefit and have a 200MB file size limit.
We really liked MediaFire’s upload tool. As you can see, it darkens the background interface. Click the tool and a typical Windows “open file” window pops up with which you can singly or batch select files (but not folders), just as in Google Docs. Interestingly, uploads typically flew along at well over 4 Mbps, consistently maxing out our 5 Mbps FiOS uplink. MediaFire isn’t kidding when it claims to have no speed limits. You can opt to hide the upload tool and continue while uploading runs in the background. Once all of your files are up, MediaFire runs through a verification process that actually takes longer than the uploading. Our only complaint here is that the uploader will occasionally not register the fact that it has finished verifying all files so you can proceed with another upload. A browser refresh fixes this.
As a point of reference, a 27.3MB set of five MP3s downloaded in 32 seconds. If you have large collections of non-compressed files, such as documents, MediaFire offers a “Bulk-Download Selected” feature that will lump everything you select into a ZIP file and then download it, which is pretty slick. Even slicker is the collection of shortcuts for pasting files straight into Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, or Stumble. You can also email files, get links for IMing, and fetch embed codes for blogs and Web pages. It’s all very simple and ridiculously convenient. And it’s not just about downloads. You can also turn any folder into an embeddable dropbox so others can upload straight to you.
If you’re doing this as part of a business operation, you’ll appreciate MediaFire’s statistics section. There’s no storefront capability for charging visitors for downloads, but you can pair the MediaFire service with a payment collection service to accomplish the same thing.
How well MediaFire fits into your storage needs will depend a lot on your everyday usage. If you don’t care about productivity apps or one-click backup protection, MediaFire’s unlimited uploads and downloads at top speed with a slick UI may be exactly what you’re looking for. If the hosting angle appeals to you, know that the MediaPro Silver package runs $14.97/month for 250GB of direct linking while the Gold plan costs $49.97/month for 1TB of direct linking.