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The Cloud: Hot, Sexy and Dangerous

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Sunday, 17 March 2013
There’s Just Something About Your Storage You Can See, Touch

Source - “The Fog,” AVCO Embassy Pictures

“Something came out of the fog and tried to destroy us. In one moment, it vanished.”Stevie Wayne – “The Fog,” AVCO Embassy Pictures, 1980

We recently switched from posting some of our documents from Google’s Gdrive (not as catchy as iDrive but…) to dropbox. Gdrive had “issues” and if the work doesn’t fit into Google’s agenda, you’re left hanging.

No problem because we don’t store anything in the cloud – either of them – we’re not willing to have them corrupted, lost or “borrowed.”

We take the same approach with our family’s stuff because things happen.


Sure, we all use the cloud – the kids more than the wife and I because they’ve never known life without it. We have.

The cloud is hot, sexy and, according to all the soothsayers, you can store anything safely and access it from anywhere.

Elizabeth Solley was pretty sure she could get her content when she said, “I think I'll go to Vancouver now.”

Of course, there is the fine print; and that’s what can kill your stuff in the cloud.

Source – Flickr

Storms Overhead – Your home may be your island for rejuvenation but it is also exposed to disasters that lurk in The Cloud. It is an even bigger problem when you store all of your best, most valuable, impossible to replace family documents, information, images and videos there. When The Cloud darkens and hactivists/cyber-criminals find your content’s location … disaster can strike.

Gartner looked at the SLAs (service level agreements) for most of the business cloud services and to say they found them lacking would be putting it mildly.

And companies are paying for those services, so imagine what that means if you’re using 2-5GB of free storage … not overly promising.

Beyond Loss
But their losing content (or our not being able to find our stuff up there) is only one of the reasons we shy away from the soft, fluffy cloud storage facilities.

Tommy Wallace recognized the issue when he exclaimed, “Hey, there's a fog bank out there.”

List of Issues – Security continues to be the biggest concern business and individual users have with “taking advantage” of cloud services. Of course, there’s also the fact that like a cloud, it isn’t really understood.

There’s also the little fact that if your 10-100GB of family treasures are located in one of those petabyte cloud warehouses and bad people want to harvest information, where’s the first place they’re going to go … right, the bank, not your mattress.

O.K., in our case it’s not the mattress, it’s a 4TB mirrored home network storage unit plus a second 4TB nearline HD we use for stuff we seldom access but would need to the minute we deleted it.

Source – Coughlin Associates

Rapid Climb – Digital content – music and video – has grown rapidly in the family’s home library, especially with game systems able to stream content and allow people to play it on virtually every device they own. Families also have general backups as well as personal backups that can and must be protected.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of good things about cloud storage and especially for backup.

Cloud storage/backup does make it convenient because you can access the information with any Internet-connected device; information can be shared (as with our Content Insider); they say it has built-in security and it’s pretty easy to manage, search, retrieve and transfer.

Disasters Are Real

The other reason lots of cloud storage sellers like to use (and it’s valid) is if a disaster strikes your home you know your stuff is somewhere safe and you can rebuild your home.

Then there are the questionable aspects, like you’re never really certain you can get the content back if they go out of business or “misplace” your family gems.

Oh, and if some government agency does a wide sweep of your storage service saying to fork it over … they’ll do it, trust me.

Dan O’Bannon found out when he said, “It should be right outside my front door now.”

Don’t forget those Wild West SLAs that have so many ifs, ands, buts that translate into “tough bounce dude/dudette.”

That’s why we use the cloud as a passing, perishable storage option.

There’s also that foggy thing in the cloud called security.

Bad Guys/Gals

David Talbot, who wrote Security in the Ether, points out concerns security and cloud experts have about how vulnerable it really is for information in the cloud.

He summed up the issues by writing, “Not only could stored data be stolen by hackers or lost to breakdowns, but a cloud provider might mishandle data — or be forced to give it up in response to a subpoena.”

So we’ll stick with our home cloud.

Easy Networking – It has become easier and easier for people to connect all of their devices to their home network, usually over Wi-Fi. While the home network was developed for computers, today it has become the home/family entertainment source.

Sure, the law can come knocking on our home network door; but all they’re going to find is a whole bunch of devices connected to a home cloud that’s just got family stuff … sorry we just don’t have any of that DRM (digital rights management) content.

Nope. Our home storage just contains the normal boring family stuff as well as personal (purchased) music collections, tons of photos/videos, purchased eBooks, video games, private/personal stuff, TV programs we’re gonna’ watch sometime and movies we bought.

Of course, that’s only part of the storage issue because it seems like we spend less and less time at home … everyone in the family is mobile.

The Mobile Family

And we’re not alone.

Source – Cisco

Everyone/Everything Connecting – While we only have roughly seven billion people on the planet, don’t think that has stopped the device industry from slapping connectivity on everything possible including shipping containers, remotely operated machines, you name it. The “other” connections far outweigh the smartphones being sold.

Our daughter has her iPhone, iPad and iMac Air while our son on has his iPhone, Kindle Fire and Asus ultrabook (he’s OS agnostic).

I took a quick look at my smartphone and it has 32GB of onboard storage, iPad has 64GB and my ultrabook has 240GB of SSD.

Everyone in the family (including my wife) seem to spend more time on their mobile devices doing data stuff rather than calling people.

Image Source – Flickr

Connected Family – Today’s family is more connected and they “talk” a lot. O.K., it isn’t vocal; but the family does exchange news, information, ideas. Sometimes that’s enough.

We know you don’t do this, but she and I have been known to text/email each other even when we’re in the same room!

Still Have Issues
But with our mobile devices always close at hand (if not in use), we still have “storage issues/paranoia.”

To handle the data explosion and avoid the universal cloud, we have “several” personal clouds.
You probably call them old-fashioned external HDs, but a personal cloud just sounds sexier.

The kids love their little OWC on-the-go Pros because they not only look cool, they hold 500GB of stuff and fit easily in their pocket/backpack with all of mobile devices.

Image Source – macsales

Personal Cloud – It may not be the fluffy thing that comes to mind when someone says they use their personal cloud but portable storage devices like the On-The-Go Pro can have enough capacity, be rugged enough, be small enough and be safe enough to protect all of your personal information, images, videos, songs from prying eyes.

I still carry around a very old LaCie rugged portable drive that I got years ago. I’m secretly waiting for it to start to die so I can move up from USB 2.0 to one with 3.0 and as much capacity as the kids have.

Well, I may have to wait until the wife gets her personal cloud … we’ll see.

Of course, there’s also the little fact that the kids have been telling us how storage deprived they feel when all of their friends have 1TB portables; so maybe dad will have to wait … again

The one thing I know is that as much as we love SSD in our mobile devices – super fast, pretty darn rugged, great battery life, super light; they just aren’t going to replace the HDs we have around the house and on our person.

And when necessary, or in a pinch, there’s always the cloud.

But it’s still something we approach with caution because…

Source - “The Fog,” AVCO Embassy Pictures

As Stevie Wayne warned, “To the ships at sea who can hear my voice, look across the water, into the darkness. Look for the fog.” Hits: 1980

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