Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Let’s Talk About the Cloud

The cloud: depending on who you’re talking to, it’s

  1. a magical place where dreams are born and an infinite amount of data is stored forever;
  2. an invitation for hackers to steal your identity, your money, your husband, and your cat;
  3. something mysterious that your boss keeps talking about but that you never really understood; or,
  4. those puffy white things in the sky that people started recently referring to in the singular (isn’t it cloudS?). 

The cloud has somewhat recently made the foray into the “personal” market.  One of the first that got me personally hooked was Dropbox – they were giving away free space if you signed up with an email account.  (Throughout the years and various promotions we have somehow accrued about 80 Gigabytes of storage for free…Dropbox is awesome.)  On Dropbox, I can access all of the files I upload on virtually any computer in the world once I enter in my dropbox information and install the software (which is the best price – free – by the way). 

After the cloud foray via Dropbox, other companies with pre-existing products started making cloud storage available.  Apple introduced their iCloud, which is a syncing cloud storage for all of the information on your iTunes (including songs, apps, and more).  Amazon followed, making purchases of digital media stream-able via the cloud.  Now, it’s hard to find a large software company that doesn’t make use of the cloud – and businesses are definitely taking that into account. 

Some research that I did for a job recently concluded that while certain types of media – mylar sleeves, for example – can end up preserving data for a long while, their lifespan is dependent (at best) on circumstance.  The cloud, according to my sources, was the one storage method almost virtually untouched by things like humidity (except for the server storage, and frankly, as a user, that’s just not your problem).  Generally, the cloud has a very low rate of going offline due to multiple-site servers – for example, if another hurricane knocks out New York, the servers in San Diego will still be up-and-running. 

One big concern with cloud storage is the access to personal information.  There is a fear that just because the information isn’t kept under a physical lock-and-key, it is less safe than the paper records we are all so familiar with.  However, it doesn’t matter; your information is likely stored on the internet somewhere if you have been “on the grid” for more than five minutes.  Hospitals, banks, and online stores – like Amazon – all use the internet to access and store personal information.  Has your identity been stolen yet?  I didn’t think so.  (Well, actually, mine has, but that was because I used a credit card at an incredibly sketchy Chinese restaurant downtown, but that’s another story.  But see?!  My identity has been stolen more times via analog than digitally!)

Overall – cloud storage is just convenient.  It’s convenient for me to use for storing almost every kind of document I could imagine.  It’s convenient for me to need to haul around a giant hard drive to access my files.  And, it’s convenient that I don’t need to pay an ungodly sum to store my own documents.  Overall, kids: give clouds a chance.  And if you don’t like this particular cloud, well… you still have your analog clouds to fall back on.