Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mobility Tip: Trust Your HD and Flashdrive (Apple Shows Us Why Cloud Not Ready Yet)

About a year ago, I had a discussion with a friend who worked at a major Internet portal regarding the future of web services. We both agreed that future Internet activities involves the user storing more data in the cloud than locally on a storage media like hard drives.

However, I argued that while that is the trend, there are instances when the user would be wise to make sure he or she has local access to pertinent files. Why? One, Internet access in the United States is near ubiquitous but not entirely ubiquitous. Then there's also security. There will always be security issues. Plus, there is the continuing mindset of control over one's data.

Well, Apple's cloud transition (maybe you've heard), for the last couple of weeks, gave me something serious to think about. I did not imagine that it would be the cloud that would be the source of disconnect between the user and the data. For a mega-corp who wants users to trust them with our data, users would expect redundancy upon redundancy to protect users against server and connection failures.

The Internet is still loaded with posts and articles about the pains of users still with no access to their e-mails and sporadic services. I bet a lot of users now wished they had downloaded their files and e-mails locally.

Perhaps, we will one day do our all computing online. The march towards that utopian world is happening but very slowly. For the time being, I will be downloading my e-mails and backing up my online files on a regular basis for a long time to come.

What have I been doing to protect my interests? Ironically, Apple who is the source of the current crop of Internet pain is also the answer. With Time Machine (a backup solution built into their latest OS, Leopard), it has made my life easier. Since I only upgraded to Leopard on my workhorse Powerbook, timing could not have been better. Honestly, I won't know for days until I find out if I am among those affected by the MobileMe transition.

Time Machine makes regular backups of your files to an external hard drive. That's the gist of it. And it's painless. What other solutions do we have to protect our data?

Well, I don't want to wake up one day and find out I've lost access to Flickr and that they are agressively working on restoring service. DVD burners and DVD media are relatively cheap these days. It's a prudent investment. An added bonus to this solution is that it can also free up your hard drive space if you also back up movies, music, and podcasts that you don't often use. We're talking lots of GB here.

Lastly, flash drives. If you're talking about tax files, e-mails, or special projects you're working on (like a book), it's indispensable. Open up your Sunday newspaper and you are likely to see ads from a couple consumer electronics giants that offer great deals.

If you have any other solutions to protect your data, we would like to hear from you.

UPDATE: A-HA! Just what we're talking about here. Recommended reading on Technology Review: Lost in the Clouds. Expressed just about the same sentiment here at Onxo. And kudos to TR for using that title. I lacked such bravery.

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