Cloud Storage · Do My Files Need Flood Insurance?

Is the sky half empty or half full of clouds? Don’t actually look, I’m just speaking metaphorically. The point is that clouds are not commonly seen as taking up space. Yet, the word cloud has caught on as a buzzword for the future of computer storage.

The Complicated CloudWith so many negative atmospheric phrases like: up in the air, in the wind, out in the rain and head in the clouds; I’m baffled why the word cloud was chosen to symbolize the future of digital storage. From my own experience, when I store something I expect it to be there (and in the same condition) when I return.
Being told that my files are safe “in the cloud” gave me the impression they are drifting away. Think about this. With all of the advances in science and technology, do you ever completely trust the weather? I don’t. The weather can change at any time, it’s completely unpredictable. I don’t even understand how being a Weatherman is a real job. I want you to put my files “in the cloud” as much as I want you to leave my computer in the rain. That’s ridiculous.
What is the cloud, seriously? I was curious enough to do some research and quickly found that I’m not the only one thrown off by the wording. Regardless why the word cloud was chosen, cloud storage is not mysterious at all. When you store something on “the cloud” it is saved in a physical location (usually multiple locations) somewhere else. The cloud describes your accumulated options to access what you store.
This brief video from ABS News offers visuals that help explain “The Cloud”:
With ever growing assortment of technical slang, I’ve taken to quickly admitting when I don’t know and just looking it up. I’ve often found that a single definition isn’t agreed upon, or the original technical reference wasn’t even used properly. It’s easy to be intimidated by technology buzzwords, but what they define is likely rooted in something you already know.
“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.” Richard P. Feynman
I have often been guilty of getting caught up in high expectations for new technology. I was the middle school kid watching the Back to the Future series and asking my parents for a hoverboard. Here it is, 2013 and still no hoverboards, flying cars or automatic adjusting sneakers. I know that advances in technology take time and effort, so witnessing a drastic change in how things work doesn’t happen often.
Keeping up on technology news isn’t as easy as just skimming headlines. Just today I saw the headline: “DNA Storage May Replace the Hard Drive.” A little further research revealed that it’s just a working concept in early development with the European Bioinformatics Institute. In fact, the current cost to apply the DNA storage method is over $12,000 per megabyte. Yes, that’s megabyte, as in less than the size of a single mp3. Do I like the idea of possibilities presented by Johnny Mnemonic reminiscent DNA storage? Yes, yes I do. I even appreciate the humor of a literal thumb drive being possible. Will DNA storage replace the hard drive? No time soon.
There are too many misleading headlines. Overall, there is a lot of bad information online, so the hardest part is finding trustworthy sources. When you find a site you trust, bookmark it and save yourself the future hassle. Next time you can begin your search from a solid source, and may not even have to look very far for the answer.
Even while searching cloud storage online, I had to accept defeat of my expectations. As of this writing, there has not been a revolutionary breakthrough allowing 100% guaranteed storage security. There is still room for human error. There are still unforeseen circumstances.
If you remember only one thing about the cloud, let it be this. Cloud storage is physical. You likely won’t know the physical location of your files, but they are physically stored somewhere. It seems too simple to say, yet it is profoundly important. With cloud storage, the same rules and logic still apply to how you store and secure your data. While the cloud may offer convenience with accessing your files, it is not foolproof. If something is important enough to miss, make copies and keep one close. Keep your feet on the ground while your head’s in the cloud.



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