Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tiptoeing Through ‘The Cloud’

A few days ago Google launched its “new” Google Drive service. It seems all they did was change the name of Google Docs. Despite that disappointment, that’s not really what this blog is about. It’s about cloud storage in general.

I find myself asking, “Just how much storage do we need?” With digital photography, ebooks, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, videos - all this data takes up space. And with so many people having smartphones these days, everyone needs someplace to store all those pictures and videos. My smartphone has more computing power and storage space than the desktop computer I had in college. In fact, I have individual files that would probably each take up most of the hard drive on the PC I had back then. Now, though, not only do I have a little over a terabyte of total storage on my current PC, but I have a shade over 80GB of storage online (not counting Gmail, or Yahoo Mail). Here’s the breakdown of the cloud storage I currently have:

  • Dropbox - 2GB free
  • Box - 50GB free (normally only 5GB, but I got 50GB for free during a promo for downloading their free Android app a couple of months ago)
  • SkyDrive 25GB for free (another free promo - SkyDrive recently changed their free storage to 7GB, but I got to keep the 25GB for free since I was already signed up for it)
  • Google Drive - 5GB

And here’s a chart, courtesy of ‘Geeks are Sexy’, that shows the various cloud services and their costs:

So, Google Drive, in my opinion, seems a day late and a dollar short, considering how much competition there already is for cloud storage service. So far, I’ve only found a handful of practical reasons to use them. The first being sharing files between my PC, laptop and smartphone easily. It was, when I was job hunting, useful to have my resume in the Public folder on Dropbox for easy sharing with prospective employers. Other than that, I’m currently in the process of sorting and uploading all of my role playing game PDFs to my Box account (since it has the largest chunk of space) so they’re readily available for gaming night, even if I’m not at home.

So, the real question, for me anyway is, do I need all of this online storage? No. No I don’t. Not really. Mostly, I think I have all this cloud storage because, well, everyone offers free space in some amount and free stuff is almost always cool, and most offer Android apps even for the Nook (except SkyDrive - what’s up with that Microsoft?) and being a gadget and technology geek, it’s just cool to have them all.

Then there’s the debate about what should and shouldn’t be uploaded to ‘the Cloud’ like sensitive data. Naturally, anything uploaded that’s of a sensitive nature should be encrypted. For me, though, nothing is uploaded that would really need encryption. Data that I don’t want getting into the “wrong hands” stays on my PC’s hard drive, not the Cloud.

There are plenty of Cloud storage services out there to choose from, some free and some not. Pick any one, or several, of your choosing. Frankly, I don’t see any overwhelming differences between any of them that would make me endorse one in particular.

~ JC

Additional Links (if you’re interested):

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