Saturday, July 11, 2015

"The Cloud" isn't what it sounds like

The marketing managers of Microsoft, Apple and Google must be slapping each other on the back for their success in getting the public to embrace the phrase "The Cloud" as a synonym for storing computer files on remote computers.

The Cloud sounds so, well, comfy. You can imagine your files -- photos, documents, videos -- resting in a soft, fluffy bed of white where no possible harm could come to them. It's a marketing triumph.

But there's a risk here. Using a term like "The Cloud" dulls our awareness of where and how our files are actually being stored.

Your files are not just floating around in the ether, They are stored on a particular hard drive in a huge warehouse full of computers. They may also be backed up on a separate hard drive (but, really, who knows?).

We have billions of items stored on remote computers with little idea of how secure or safe the storage is.

As the remote-storage industry matures, companies are going to start cutting corners -- removing backup systems -- to increase profits. And one day, inevitably, something will go wrong and people will lose countless valuable pictures, financial records and home movies -- permanently.

They'll wonder: "How could this happen? It was in The Cloud."  Except it wasn't, and never was.

Saying that that these files are stored "remotely" is more accurate -- and uses two fewer words -- than saying "in the Cloud."


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