Tag Archives: cloud

The Rumble In The Cloud

Clouds come and clouds go.  Some drop rain, some brings thunder and lightning and some just vanish in a trail of wisps.  Some clouds bring destruction in the form of storms, hurricanes, tsunamis and tornadoes that destroy homes and lives.  Some clouds are pretty and fluffy and look like kittens.  Clouds can be useful and clouds can be devastating.
The current talk in personal computing is “The Cloud.”  People use computers for any number of reasons, but in almost every use, something is saved.  Some file is created.  The most common used today are picture files, music files and video files.  People take pictures of friends and family with digital cameras and cell phones, buy digital music online, or rip CDs bought at retail and stream movies and TV shows.  These files all need to be stored somewhere so the data is readily accessible.  When people create files, the files are stored on the computer’s hard drive.  If someone want to access that file on a different computer in another location, it necessitated copying the file to some form of removable media like a floppy disk, CD ROM, or Flash Drive.  This came with a few problems and was not a perfect solution to data transportation, but it did create a back up of the data in case something happened to the hard disk in the original computer.
With mobile computing, people want quicker easier access to their data and with mobile broadband becoming more prevalent, streaming is the way to go.  But with streaming, comes the cloud, looming on the horizon growing darker and more ominous as it builds.
Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google have marketing departments working overtime to convince people to use the cloud for their data storage needs.  This allows instant access to data across any number of platforms.  The upsides are impressive.  Order a song on iTunes on your iPhone, it appears in your iTunes library on your PC and iPad at the same time. Amazon offers the exact same service.  Its convenience in it purest form.  No need to burn a CD or DVD.  No need for removable media.  It is simply there.
Cloud services go beyond entertainment, however.  They would love for you to upload your files to the cloud so you can access all your data whenever and wherever you want.  Need that spreadsheet?  Just log onto the cloud.  Need that PowerPoint presentation?  It’s in the cloud.  Want to update your resume?  Go to the cloud.
Of course, this allows those companies to see and analyse your data.  This allows those companies to know your music and entertainment tastes and market more directly to you.  This allows those companies access to your files.  It also puts your data security squarely in their hands.  If something happens to your data, only they can recover it.  You have no recourse beyond their tech support.  If their servers get hacked, your data is open for whoever performed the hack, perhaps to be sold to some internet marketing firm (if your lucky) or used by identity thieves (if your not).
One commercial for Google Plus illustrates the ideal use case for the cloud.  A new father has taken hundreds of photos of his baby girl to post to Facebook and share with friends.  His then looses his phone and all those pictures.  He is heartbroken.  Inconsolable.  Every early memory of his new baby girl is gone.  But then it isn’t.  He gets a new phone, logs into Google Plus and every picture is there.  Relief, you are the cloud.
But what if there is some kind of cloud break and Google Plus goes away?  Suppose that Google undergoes some kind of corporate restructuring, and Plus is no longer supported.  All that data could be lost forever.  Suppose Apple goes under (It could happen).  All your music could vanish.  Suppose You Tube disappears.  All your videos are gone.  The most common problem with cloud computing is that it requires an active internet connection.  If you want to stream High Def videos or music, you need broadband.  Without internet, you have zero access to your files.
The only way to avoid this would be to have back ups of all the files on your computer.  Perhaps burn the files to a DVD or Blue Ray for archiving.  It is the only way to ensure you have these files in the case of a cloud burst.  Also, be selective as to which files you upload to the cloud.  No financial or personal files should be uploaded to the cloud.  Security may be touted, but those files exist on someone else’s computer and that computer could be hacked.
The cloud is a convenience, but it is not the end all be all to data security.  Always have a local backup, just in case and always keep private data as far from the cloud as possible.


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