While I can see some useful applications for the Cloud, especially for smartphones, I can't see how using the Cloud to store data has any significant advantage over storing it locally. One apparent plus, file sharing, is really a two-edged sword; when anyone can access your files, well, anyone can access your files. Passwords can't help much, any hacker can break user generated passwords without sneezing. So sensitive files are much safer on your PC, especially if you store them on a local server or, better yet, an external drive or server that is activated only when you want to access those specific files. Then there's the connection and speed issues.

Comcast, ATT, Huges et al measure speed in Megabits, not Bytes, so a 12 Mb download connection is slower by a factor of 8 than a 12 MB connection; you'll do a hell of a lot better with 2.0 UBS, let alone 3.0 or SATA connections. Uploading files of any size is still a joke (at 1 Mb). Personally, uploaded a 24 MB (at .95 Mb) file to a friend last Christmas as an Email attachment; took my Email carrier 10 minutes to load the file. Depending on protocols, encryption and compression, a direct line to a particular Cloud server could be faster (or slower).

Security, privacy and speed remain serious issues with the Cloud.

That leaves Backup - the Cloud's servers are, technologically, no better than anything you can buy on-line or at a retailer. In fact, down the road, it's easy to see Cloud providers scrimping on their servers to save a few pennies. Local Backup to partitioned drives, external drives and portable media, especially portable media, is far superior to entrusting your files to a third party.

With smartphones, they're lack of storage does make the Cloud attractive and, since the next generation of consumer and business computing is going to be driven by smartphones, the Cloud's time has come; just don't expect miracles and keep anything sensitive or essential local.


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