Cloud computing is here to stay, that much is clear. But should you trust your precious data to the cloud? If you were to ask me that question my answer would be a resounding “NO!”.
I believe that we are heading down a very dangerous path with cloud computing, and that few people have even given a single thought of the possible perils involved with computing on the cloud.
As I write this, millions of people the world over have trusted the cloud to look after their precious data, their photographs, their contacts, and it’s just the beginning. The powers that be are pushing for a world where not only your data, but the applications that access it, exist only on the cloud, on someone else’s server, where you have no control over it.
Imagine this scenario. You have dozens of photo albums filled with memories. Your travels, you family, your parents and grandparents, your wedding, your children, even your pets. You name it, your records of these people and events are stored in these albums. Now imagine that instead of keeping them safe at home, you handed them over to some corporation to look after, all without any kind of contract in place to protect your rights to them, or any promise to keep them safe.
Would you do it?
My guess is that you would not. And yet you probably think nothing of uploading a photo from your phone directly to Facebook.
If you are computer savvy, you probably know enough to keep the originals on your computer, and to back them up regularly. But if you’re not, you may not even know how to save the originals on your computer, or where to find them if they are already there. You’ve probably never even considered what would happen if Facebook were to ever shut down, or if it were to have a catastrophic server failure and lose your data.
This is just one example. Perhaps an even scarier example is the number of companies now entrusting their entire email system to Google. Indeed, companies are putting all of their faith in Google to process and archive important company email, many not even keeping local backups on their own PC or servers. It strikes me as lunacy, and yet seemingly few people are even aware or concerned about the possible consequences. Think about, would you ever give a third-party company control over the storage and archiving of your paper documents without a contract in place ensuring your rights to, and the safety of your data, or with a contract that limits your rights and protects only the company providing the service? Of course not, but companies and individuals are doing this every day with Google.
Google (and other tech companies) envision a world where your PC is nothing more that an access point to the cloud, where nothing is stored on your own computer at all, and your hard drive, if you even have one, serves only as a temporary “sync” point for data you happen to be working with at the time. You don’t even own the software you use, it’s available only on the cloud.
Does this sound like a good idea to you? If it does, you are a tad too trusting in my estimation.
What is the cloud anyway?
There’s lots of talk about cloud computing. Unless You are living under a rock, if you do anything with a computer it’s hard to imagine you haven’t heard someone mention that the future of computing is in the cloud, or that we are moving towards the cloud, etc. If you haven’t yet, you soon will as Apple forges ahead with iCloud, bound to become the most visible example of cloud computing, especially so since it’s the only example I can think of that actually uses the word “cloud” in the name.
But what is it exactly anyway?
Essentially “cloud computing” is a catchy name for “server based computing”. Right now, for the most part, your computing life is still centred around your PC. While you may also have a tablet, or a smart phone, the majority of your data is stored on your computer. This means that to access the data on more than one of your devices, you have to copy it over, either manually, or through the use of some kind of syncing system.
Admittedly, this is not the most elegant way of doing things, and hasn’t really worked all that well over the years.