For the longest time, we knew where our data existed – it existed on our computers, typically on a hard drive or potentially a floppy disk. So now when we create files, let’s say on a Web service like Google Docs, for example, we may never actually know where that file sits. We know we can get to it from anywhere, of course, but it’s out there. In The Cloud. We don’t know the physical location of that file, but do we need to know, anymore? No, we don’t. That’s for someone else to worry about and track.
Our whole life is eventually going to be stored in The Cloud, no longer tied to a physical machine or hard drive. I’m not even really tracking any of my media, anymore. I have a Rhapsody account for my music; I subscribe to Netflix and Hulu. I’m not really buying any physical media, anymore. I’m not storing them on my local network. This data exists in The Cloud on these Web services that I pay to access. I know that, somewhere, the file is sitting on a hard drive waiting for me to point and click my way to it, but the responsibility of holding on to it is no longer mine.
Think of a public library – you can check out books, read them, and then put them back on its shelves without cluttering up your own at home. The archives are there for your benefit without requiring you to be their ever-vigilant custodian. The Cloud doesn’t charge you overdue fees, either, so don’t go saying the 21st century’s never done you any favors!
Storing your life remotely has its benefits, but as with any service that offers to simplify your day-to-day doings, be sure to research these places in The Cloud and make sure they’re reliable. Let your vision look toward The Cloud, but keep your head on Earth when you’re making the decision about what chunks of your life to stow away there.