“It has a capacity of 1.6 GB! Do you know what that means? It can store the entire world, along with you kiddo!” I still remember these words uttered by the smug looking computer salesman as I stood there awestruck by the enormity of the word “gigabyte”. Are we allowed to use this word? Isn’t it a taboo, an impossibility to have storage so huge? These were the questions that crossed my mind as I was handed over a gleaming Western Digital internal HDD which I used for the next three years with my new IBM. Enter 2012 and these things belong to the museum. The new word is terabyte and the new device is “external storage” or “USB 3.0”… or is it? If you ask me, this is bound to change into “cloud storage” or “remote storage”, as I recently realized that it is high time we threw our storage devices into the garbage!
My views may seem outrageous but that’s what happens when you lose valuable data on these storage devices again and again. I’ve had some pretty bad luck in the past with storage devices. Electricity outage, malicious malware attacks, bad sectors, data corruption, physical damage; I’ve experienced all kinds of excuses for losing my data. Three years ago, I switched to DropBox and initially, it replaced my USB. DropBox is a SaaS (Software as a Service) cloud storage solution that takes care of your storage space in the cloud.
DropBox is a simplistic solution to online storage space. The amount of space varies according to what package you opt for but the feature that sets DropBox apart from rest of the players is that it is compatible across almost all platforms and OS (Android, Linux, PC, IOS, etc). Another nice feature is that the software creates a network drive which can be used as any other drive on your system. Copy, cut, paste, and edit data like you would on any other system drive. You can organize folders and files just like you would in a flash drive. The next notable feature is convenience. You don’t connect to your data on the cloud via a browser. The data is also available offline and DropBox syncs your storage as soon as an internet connection is established.
The price you pay for all this is $0 for the first 2 GBs. Further on, DropBox charges $9.99 per month per 50 GBs of space and the cost for 100 Gbs is $19.99 per month. Now that is quite a lot if you plan on throwing away your 500 GB external hard drive but DropBox isn’t intended for media file storage. It is the ideal candidate if your prime objective is document storage with reliability, simplicity and flexibility.
DropBox is only one of many players in the industry though. For bulk storage you may want to turn your attention to Amazon Cloud Drive. Here you get 20 GBs of free storage with music stream capabilities for up to eight devices. The music upload interface isn’t the best available in the market but that feature can be overlooked if you are offered $1 per GB of additional space per year. So, you may get 100 GB of additional space at $100/year. Apple iCloud has also stepped into the game as well by offering 5 GBs of free initial storage. But the ‘Apple’ twist in this case is that they’re offering this as ‘additional storage to your iTunes purchases’. This means that the music, book, apps, TV shows, etc you get from iTunes doesn’t count in your storage quota (way to go Apple, you’ve done it again!). Additional space is priced at $20 per year for 10 GB and $100 per year for 50 GB.
Now, coming back to my original argument – is portable storage obsolete at the moment and is it being outclassed by cloud storage? I would say absolutely! I haven’t used a USB for quite some time now and I couldn’t be happier. All my documents, important files, and even pictures are backed up in the cloud. I wouldn’t recommend saving multimedia onto the cloud (yet) but the times are changing. Reliability is one factor that turns me on. In this case, I don’t have to take the pain of buying an array of redundant drives and backing up my data periodically, because DropBox does it for me. I don’t even have to care about backing up my entire system anymore (system restore, creating boot devices, creating back up points, etc). If it fails, it fails. I’ll be happy to install a fresh OS without any grimace as long as my data is up on the cloud, free from any conventional storage dangers.
About the Author: Rob is a cloud computing and web hosting enthusiast and enjoys writing about various topics such as cloud hosting, the future of the search industry, and web design. His current project is a site that reviews the best website hosting services and helps people figure out which is the right one for them.