Monday, January 21, 2013

Cloud vs Sneakernet

Why a drive in the hand is better than file in the cloud and will most likely stay that way.

I use cloud services like Google Drive and Spideroak, but I still carry an SD card - no, not my driver's license. I  still carry a 16Gb flash memory card with all of the Gigastrand documents on it. It goes from my office to my home so I can do work. It is a part of my sneakernet.

For those who do not know what a sneakernet is: A sneakernet is simply walking (possibly using your sneakers) data from one computer to another using removable media. If I did that in the office that would be a LAN sneakernet. When I get in my car and drive it somewhere else, that would be the WAN (internet) side of the sneakernet.

This drive has gone from a 320Gb external hard drive to a 16Gb SD card in part because of an increased use of Google drive for much of my regular Gigastrand documents. While cloud services are fantastic for a great many things, my sneakernet is a long way from going down. Here's why.

  1. Limited Internet - Speed is not relly the issue but if I have to download then upload my file every time I wanted to work on it, the bandwidth usage would add up quick.
  2. Limited services - Google drive has done well to add functionality to their Drive service, but it is still very limited. I can convert OpenOffice Writer and Calc to Google drive but like most conversions it is not perfect. I have had to re-create many of my documents that I wanted on Google Drive and as an advanced OpenOffice user, others simply do not translate well at all. 
  3. Limited space - 5Gb of space is enough for many users and suffices for me as well - for now - but when I can buy a 16Gb SD card for $15 it sort of negates the value of the cloudspace.
  4. Expense - As I just mentioned, paying for more space just doesn't make sense. When all you pay for is storage that only happens to be online, then the value should at least be equal to the storage you can get purchasing from 

The expense argument does not quite add up because when you use cloud services you get backup management and access to your data anywhere you have internet access. Not to mention you do not have to worry about losing your drive. All this does have some inherent value.

Regardless, the cloud has made data more convenient, but it is far from a replacement for the good old sneakernet. Just like computers and tablets have still not replaced paper.

No comments:

Post a Comment