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CloudThe August issue of PC Magazine began the “magazine’s” 30th year and I have not missed an issue, although this is the first one I read on the iPad with Zinio. If someone had described the iPad to me back in 1981 it would have seemed like science fiction. Even the PC at that time seemed an amazing breakthrough. The first PC had a 5.25 inch diskette drive and no hard drive. Anybody have their archives on 5.25 inch diskettes?I hope not because it might be hard to find a drive to read them.
The First Word column by Lance Ulanoff over at PC Mag this month was called Storage Evolution in which Lance discusses how storage has evolved from one type of media to another. When a new size or type of storage is introduced it always seems that the new paradigm will last forever. In the grand scheme of things the evolution looks more like pings on a radar screen. They come and they go.  Sony has just made a decision to end production of the 3.5 inch disks. When the CD became popular for backing up our files it seemed to be the ultimate. Then came the DVD and then double sided and double depth. External drives, zip drives, USB keys, tape cartridges, and perhaps holographic storage soon. Getting the latest and greatest to backup your data is the easy part. What about five years from now when you want to restore some data from your archived storage? Will you have a PC or Mac that has a device that can read the storage medium you had chosen five years prior? Maybe and maybe not.
Why not let someone else worry about all this? There is something about clouds that brings the term into our daily lives. We say “it is a cloudy day”, or “there is not a cloud in the sky”, or if we feel especially elated or happy we might say “I feel like I am on cloud nine“.  More and more people are answering the question of where is there backed up data with “it’s in the cloud”. Some people worry about whether it will be safe and secure in the cloud but from my perspective it is important to compare the risk to that of keeping such data on your own computer. In fact I would say that the risk of your data getting compromised at a cloud backup service is less than the risk of your hard drive crashing or having your laptop stolen at Laguardia Airport, or at some point of being unable to read the data because the storage medium is incompatable with your computer.
Cloud services companies have a lot more at stake than we do when it comes to maintaining high integrity for their operations. They will keep your backup data backed up and they will use whatever the most cost-effective storage media is. As new kinds of media come along they will adopt it and migrate all your data to it. Their problem, not yours. The argument for using them is compelling from my point of view. There are many companies that offer backup services including Mozy, Carbonite, and SOS. See PC Magazine for a review. I have been using idrive.com for quite some time and have found it very reliable. The services can be setup to automaticaly make backups while you are sleeping. You can have the backups run daily, weekly, or even continuously so that whenever a file changes on your computer a backup is made in the cloud. The best part is that you don’t have to buy any devices and worry about how compatible they may be in the future.
Is cloud computing for businesses or for consumers? It is for people. Businesses do not buy from businesses. People in businesses buy from people in businesses. People work at businesses and people work at home. Some people are students and some are e-tired. Clouds are all about making people more productive and increasingly the clouds will be where we will keep all of our data that feel is important.