You guys probably caught my recent review of the Buffalo CloudStation NAS HDD on this site (if not, you can check it out here if you like).
What you probably didn’t catch is the aftermath of the review, and the subsequent effect on this writer, which he would now like to talk about now.
It took me a couple of days to copy over my most valued files over to the drive, the ones I couldn’t live without if my system crashed. These files were already on external drives, but were really not quite backed up. My iMac was on Time Machine (Apple‘s wonderful backup software) and there was a dedicated hard drive for it, so that was all squared away, but my work and media files, along with my old archives, were on different hard drives and were only that one copy.
Here was my chance to back it up, so I did. I got all my work files together and copied them to one organized folder, then I got together my photos, music and video in another. I also got the old data archived from way back and dumped those into another folder in the CloudStation.
It took forever as the throughput was only 11 or 12Mbps, and there were a few hiccups along the way—one was some strange power glitch that reset my iMac, and I had to restart that part of the copy. Also, the system wasn’t great at handling errant files, and stopped stone cold when it hit a snag. Had to locate the problematic file, delete it, then start over. It did this a few times.
But finally, after two days, all my important files were backed up to the CloudStation, and I could now access them from anywhere in the world I happened to be, and with whatever device I happened to have. There were no fees to pay and no limitations on file size or type. The whole world was my oyster. It was very liberating. (Of course you needed a reliable internet provider and a constant connection to the net, but that goes without saying.)
But now what? I could access my files from just about anywhere, watch a movie, listen to songs, browse through my pictures. And then what?
Then it occurred to me that I could actually make the CloudStation my constant work drive, from where ever I was. (Great, genius. That was what it was meant for in the first place.) It was new and wasn’t in danger of flaking out on me for quite a while yet, and I could depend on it for the next three or four years. It makes a strange, soft, quick chirping sound every minute or so (which I think is part of its normal operation), but other than that, it was working solidly.
In the course of my freelancing, I had gotten into the habit of sometimes working in coffee shops, doing articles and writing web pieces there, but I’ve always had to live in the machine I happened to have, whether it’d be my iPad, the Nexus 7, or even my iPhone. I’ve always had to upload my files to my home machine later when I got home, and then continue to work on it there, and access the data and information I further needed that was on the big iMac.
Now I don’t have to. I can just have one permanent copy of my files, up on the Cloud, and work on it all there, from whatever device I had at that moment. All I needed do was log in on the app that let me on my Cloud, or, failing that, just access it on the default browser of the device.
It was a novel (but not-so-new) idea. It struck me that I didn’t really need all the big configurations of the devices I’ve accumulated all these years—I just didn’t need all that space anymore. I didn’t have to get the 64GB version of the iPad, nor the 32GB of the Nexus 7 and the iPhone. If I had this CloudStation, I could’ve lived with the smallest config of these other devices and not have spent all that cash on them. I could’ve redefined them as mere workstations, and put all those files up on my Cloud and work on them from there.
So this week, I migrated all my pending stuff to my Cloud and started a couple of new workfiles right there. I didn’t make copies on the the iMac, but I saved them to the Cloud. I continued the work on my Nexus and iPad outside in the cafes, and just saved to the Cloud. There was nothing physically present on my machines, yet the work continues.
I’ve already submitted one piece conceived, executed and created entirely on the Cloud to my editor on another site, and now I’m working on this piece. And now that Apple, Microsoft and Google have put some of their workhorse productivity apps on the Cloud as well, like iWork, Office and Google Docs, and Cloud services (free and paid) popping up all over the place like Box and Pogoplug, it’s all starting to take shape, and I see where the computing scene is eventually headed.
Of course there are risks to being entirely on the Cloud, and I’m not blind to them. My CloudStation could crash, and I’d be up the creek without a paddle. Those big cloud servers out there, redundancies and all, could still go belly up, and we’d all be S.O.L. There is always that threat, however remote.
But there are growing pains that accompany every new thing that comes up, and Cloud Computing isn’t any different. Right now, it’s on the cusp, tottering between succeeding and total, abject failure. But lately it’s leaning more toward the side of the former, and is steadily gaining ground. Pretty soon we, all of us, might be living entirely on the Cloud. Who knows?
I’m just glad I’m able to get in on some of the action this early, in my own small way.
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