Or, as it used to be called, on internet servers. “The Cloud” is trendy. What it is, is not quite as sexy – a bunch of buildings in a bunch of places with a bunch of servers that have data in them. Usually the data is in more than one place so a place goes down, the others pick up the slack.
Google, at least to my recollection, started the rush to the “cloud” with Google Docs, an online kind of equivalent to the programs in Microsoft Office. Why pay MS hundreds of dollars every couple of years and take up space on your hard drive with the program and the files when you can go to the cloud and use the free Docs program and store your files there?
Apple is building a 500,000 square foot building to house a new server “farm,” reportedly to house data for the rumored “iCloud” it is about to introduce to sync all your music and videos to and from all of your Apple devices.
But, as we all know, computers are finicky things. They quit doing what they are supposed to do on annoyingly frequent basis. The Blue Screen of Death. Control + Alt + Delete. Defragmenting. Viruses and worms.
And all those things happen no matter where you keep the hardware – in your home or office or in a server farm on the other end of the cloud.
Sony’s Playstation Network has been down for about a week and may be up this week after being hacked. Amazon has a very nice server business that didn’t get a lot of attention until recently when it went down and shut down a whole bunch of websites.
I’ve always been wary of the cloud for security reasons, and still am. As a lawyer I can’t see putting client information in the hands of a third party that might access it or let others. But lately, the inherent fallibility of computers (and nuclear reactors, but that’s a different post) has added a new reason for me to keep my stuff closer to home. If one of my computers goes down, the stuff in it is sitting in an external hard drive and mirrored on the other computer. I’m not dependent on whichever flavor of cloud computing company wants my business.
Maybe someday I’ll have to but not as long as I don’t absolutely have to. After all, though I bank online and use ATM’s to get money, I still have a paper check register, keep all my credit card and ATM card receipts and refuse to put money or checks into the machine in front of the bank.