Should You Bother With Online Storage?

Opinion: Storage disks and back-up drives are all good for storing your data, but have you ever thought of using online storage?

My first attempt at a regular data backup scheme involved burning copies of important files to CDs on a monthly basis. Back in the old days before blank CD-Rs were cheap and plentiful, making a full disc backup still took the better part of an hour. And I didnt dare use my PC for anything else while burning—that was a surefire recipe for making cup coasters. The plan worked solidly for a few months until I got lazy and started neglecting to do the backups.

After that I moved on to buying spare drives to use as backup stores, spurred on by the latest deals and mail-in rebates. Over time these turned into external drives, which I eventually replaced with multi-drive RAID boxes. I now have a terabyte NAS device for storing backups and sharing content over my network at home. It does basically everything I need it to, but I cant help but wonder where storage is heading next.

With Amazons recent launch of S3 and the rumor mill percolating Googles plans to launch its controversial Gdrive service, online storage seems like itll be the next big thing to change the way we access and store digital content. Online storage promises to make data available practically anywhere, on any platform or device. You wont have to worry about things like hard drive failure or data corruption. Even if your computer is stolen or your house floods or catches fire, your data is safely stored offsite.

Long before Google or Amazon, a number of companies hopped aboard the online storage bandwagon. Some went the way of the dot-com bust, while others survived into the Web 2.0 era supporting new features and services for their users.

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