The Bender Xtender
Ok, let me start with some great new… it seems the Drive Xtender concept has sparked more than a bit of interest. In fact, we have secured some cash from the powers that be, to get it finished!
Before we get into too much detail about Drive Xtender, let’s recap…
Since we announced Drive Xtender earlier this year, we have received a heap of questions regarding Drive Xtender, including pricing and the future of both Cloud Xtender and Drive Bender. First, let me say that we have posted Cloud Xtender v2.3, this update addresses the Dropbox v1 API’s that will be deprecated, if you are using Dropbox, make sure you get this update. It also sorts out a number of bugs that, with the help of some dedicated users, we have squashed.
Next, let’s look at Drive Bender v2.7, this release fixes a long-running bug with file locking… that caused all sorts of annoying issues for a small number of punters! Again thanks to those users that have helped with the debugging and sorting of said issues… awesome!
Ok, to the question at hand, the “why”, “how” and “when” for Drive Xtender.
Well first up, the “why”, and some insight into my thoughts on Drive Bender and Cloud Xtender. First of all, let me set the stage. Drive Bender has been a wonderful product for Division-M! With its initial release, Drive Bender generated enough revenue in the first couple of days to not only pay for the development up to that point but to also cover off the following 12 months… so in all, it has more than paid its way. That said, it is a power users product, lots of buttons, lots of knobs, and lots ways for less experienced users to get into trouble. Cloud Xtender, while not intended to be a power users product, did, as a result of the UX, suffered a similar fate. So the first part of the “why” question is easy, KISS (keep it simple stupid).
The second part of the “why” question is performance related. Drive Bender, like other products of its type, including RAID, have a tightly coupled relationship with their underlying hard drives… which in short means that performance is only as good as the lowest performing drive. Now as anyone that has used computers for any length of time would know, hard drives are crap when it comes to reliability! I would post a picture of my hard drive graveyard, but it’s too depressing!! Lesson two, design a system that removes this dependency.
The third and final part of the “why” question is power consumption. Over the years, this has been a key point with many users that have large pools, spinning up drives that do not need to be spun up is costly in terms of energy, and wear and tear… lesson three, only access drives that are needed for the file operation being requested!
Next is the “how”, and what is going to happen with both Drive Bender and Cloud Xtender? Well first let’s lay out the Drive Xtender versions that will be available… Standard, Pro and Premium. Both Standard and Pro are basically the same as Cloud Xtender, offering cloud drive mapping and a bunch of newer features (I won’t go into these at the moment). However, Standard will be free and limited to mapping no more than two, free cloud service (aka the local folder/drive size is limited to the size of the “free” tier of the cloud service it is mapped too). Pro will be a paid for service, and there is no limitation on the number of cloud drives mapped or their size. Premium, will include all features in Pro, in addition to local drive pooling with cloud and local drive duplication (aka you can duplicate local drives to a cloud drive etc). Cloud Xtender as a standalone product will no longer be developed, and existing users will get a free, perpetual license to “Pro”. On the other hand, Drive Bender will continue to be developed alongside Drive Xtender… with users being offered a large cross-grade discount if they want to move to Drive Xtender Premium (we are also extending this to a limited number of competing products).
Finally, let us move onto the “when”. This was, until recently the tricky question, resources were limited and that meant Drive Xtender’s progress was slow… with development only being done when time permitted. With our recent injection of cash, we are now able to develop Drive Xtender at pace… so the answer is ASAP! As it stands we have a large portion of development done, so we are pushing to have a release ready early 2018. With that, we are opening beta registration on the 17th of October, 2017. If you wish to be a part of the beta program, you must register (URL will be posted on Twitter and the forum on the 17th). By registering you are also eligible for a further discount if you want to cross-grade (aka Drive Bender to Drive Xtender Premium).