Lately, we’ve all been hit with talk about the future of computing and how everything might end up on “cloud” services. As a result of this forward-thinking movement, everyone seems to have gotten in the game: Apple with iCloud, Google with GoogleApps and now Microsoft with Office 365. While each have touted their superiority over the others, it’s hard to imagine a computing experience existing only on the Internet. But I guess 20 years ago they said it would be hard to imagine something like the Internet too.
Originally, I was thinking that this is a good idea because how often have you been away from your computer and needed a file or two only to remember that even though you’re carrying a capable smartphone, a laptop and a tablet device, the one file you needed most was at home stuck on your hard drive? For me, it happens fairly often. Of course, it’s nothing that would stop the world from spinning, but out of convenience, it would be nice to have a place where everything resides.
I like to think of cloud computing like IMAP email where you can connect all of your devices to your one email account and no matter which device you use to send, receive, move or delete messages, every device always has the same updated information. However, there are others that think the cloud poses a threat to security and privacy. They might be on to something here.
I decided to create a pros and cons list to cloud computing and let the readers decide for themselves.
- Access – Likely the number one reason the cloud looks like a good idea—the ability to access your files from any Internet connection is very convenient.
- HDD space – Depending on what service you use and how much it costs, you can determine how much storage space you get. In turn, you are also saving local space on your computer.
- Safe and secure – Putting your files in the cloud can remove it from threats such as house fires, theft, auto accidents, plane crashes and viruses.
- Collaboration – Businesses and teams alike can work on files at the same time for a truly live collaboration between multiple people located in various parts of the world.
- Cost savings – This one is subjective, but the cloud could save you money from not having to spend it on hardware, more computers or other devices.
- Security – Putting anything out on the Internet can be potentially dangerous in two ways—simply storing it and then transferring it.
- Privacy – This one is for the paranoid, but is it possible for employees of such cloud systems to have access to client’s files? If so, what could a disgruntled employee be capable of doing with such access??
- Reliability – The cloud cannot exist without the Internet, so if you ever lose your connection, you won’t have access to your files. Try working on an airplane now!
- Speed – Again, due to the Internet reliance, transferring large files to and from a cloud service can pose a problem. Especially if you’re trying to make it out the door in a flash.
- Storage space – No cloud service seems to offer LARGE amounts (above 5gb) of storage space so at this time, it would be foolish to think you can store all your movies, videos and music.
My two cents
I see both sides to this coin, so I can see myself using the cloud for some things, but not others. I find that some of my more pertinent documents would be put in the cloud only if I see a use for them at work or at a friend’s location. However, I have many, many gigs of data that I know I would never be able to put in a cloud service nor would I want to. What’s the alternative? I created a very organized computer system that I run local servers on (FTP, web and mail) as well as Remote Desktop Connection so I can access this computer through any desktop or laptop and even some mobile smartphones.
In a sense, I created my own cloud. If you’re interested in something a little less cumbersome, you might want to check out a free service from Tonido. They offer the ability to create your own personal cloud without all the headache of setting everything up.
Sometimes I might be away from my home, perhaps at a friend’s out or maybe even out of town. While I generally have my MacBook to keep me connected, there are many times when I go to do something and I can’t because I realize everything is stored on my desktop computer. Of course there are services out there that allow you to upload data to the “cloud”, but I don’t like them because they are either too limited or too costly.
For anyone who doesn’t already know, cloud computing is the new terminology used to describe how we interact with our computers and data on the Internet. In the simplest of terms, creating a cloud allows you to make all of your files available online so you can access them wherever you are.
Tonido is free software that allows you to turn your home computer into your own personal cloud! Now, you can run your own cloud services similar to that of Apple’s MobileMe and Google Docs with two major differences: it’s free and you don’t have to upload your files to any 3rd parties.
The top 10 reasons to run Tonido:
- Secure and private – Use an external DNS name such as cloud.domain.com to access your Tonidio-enabled computer from anywhere in the world.
- File management – You can have full access to all of your files.
- Tonido WebShare – Create specific file shares for specific users, allowing them to have access to only what you want them to while using easy-to-remember URLs. There is a $29.99 charge to purchase the Pro version of this which enables quite a few new features. See Tonido Webshare for more information.
- Stream videos – Ever wanted to take your movies and videos with you on vacation, but could never decided on which ones to bring because you didn’t want to fill up your hard drive? You can now stream any video file directly from your home computer through Tonido Explorer.
- Stream music – Just as you would imagine, you can also stream all of your music. No need to bring your entire music collection with you anymore!
- Manage torrents – I used to have to wait until I got home to start any torrent downloads I wanted to get, but Tonido allows you to create and manage all of your downloads remotely.
- Manage money – There’s an add-on feature that allows you to manage all your finances remotely too.
- Backups – Use Tonido to remotely backup your whole computer to another computer on the network or to any other computer on the Internet.
- Personal blog – If you’ve always wanted to run a personal blog, but didn’t want to deal with all of the hassle of webhosting, you can use Tonido’s “Thots” to do just that. Make it only available to you or the whole world; you decide.
- Cross platform – Tonido is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. Remote software is available for those as well as the latest smartphones.
My two cents
From the looks of things, everything is free except the WebShare Pro. Ironically, this is probably the piece of software that you’d use most, so all in all, setting up your own cloud would cost about $30. Of course, you also have to provide your own hardware and be willing to leave a computer on 24/7. After all is considered, you really can’t beat this configuration. Even if you went with MobileMe, you’d have to pay about $99 per year plus deal with storage limitations.
If you’re anything like me, then you probably prefer to do everything yourself because at least you’d have full control of your cloud plus you can un-limit yourself by providing as much hard drive space as needed. My weekend project is going to be setting up such a system. I’ll be posting my final reviews on Tonido once I’ve played around with it a bit.
Over 40 million people trust Plaxo to store their address book in the cloud. At least that’s how it started out. Today, Plaxo offers the same address book features plus adds new social networking features that are very different than Facebook, MySpace and others because it isn’t a place where you simply add a bunch of people you don’t know.
Benefits of using Plaxo
Plaxo offers a new way to network with your friends. The approach is different than other sites because it isn’t a place where you see how many online friends you can collect. It allows you to connect with your real friends, co-workers and family.
Plaxo has something called Pulse that makes all this possible. It allows you to better see what everyone is creating and sharing online–things like blogs, pictures, videos, etc. They tout the fact that they have one of the strongest privacy policies out there and make sure that your personal information doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
Plaxo is part of Comcast
Comcast Interactive Media now owns Plaxo and this will allow them to offer more connectivity through the Internet and tv based connections. They intend to make Plaxo the most unified social networking site available.