I predict that personal home storage is going to all but fade away in the next few years. There just won’t be any need for it. Those who still insist on buying portable hard drives and encased gigs to throw next to their machines will be looked at by the young’ns the same way we look at our grandparents who stuff their money into mattresses for fear of trusting the bank.
I understand and respect the risk that many see that comes with trusting all of their data online. But the risk of losing data is going to be faced anyway, whether it’s in your home office or in a server camp in California. In both cases there’s risk, but that doesn’t mean the same pros/cons come with each. For example, with a hosted storage solution you don’t have to worry about
- managing your own space, including environment control and troubleshooting,
- paying the bills to keep it running all the time, or
- worrying that your house will burn down and take your data with it.
Although before storing online you should be concerned with
- securing your information (much like Grandma’s cash in her mattress),
- copyright regulations and user agreement forms, and
- playing nice with Customer Service Reps. Who enjoys that?
So there are some ups and downs to each side. But imagine what the geek world will look like let alone the rest of the world. For one thing you may (sooner than later) be considered a dinosaur for purchasing extra hard drives. I’ve already given a few photographers a weird look when they don’t know about Flickr (before evangelizing them, of course).
Flickr’s a good case study, actually. This is a service that will host your photos, make them manageable and shareable, and do it a hell of a lot better than your computer can. But if RAW is your thing, well, you aren’t storing them on Flickr. So the purist would say “There, you need personal storage for that.” Well, besides the fact that I think the purist would miss the point of the case study, I do agree that internet based storage services have a way to go. But Flickr is nipping at the possibilities; this combined with Google Apps, numerous writing applications, and now presentation services available online, one can’t help but wonder what the use will be for desktop storage (let alone desktop applications) in the time to come.
Imagine all of your data being accessible from anywhere. And it’s easier than navigating your computer’s hard drive. And it can be shared and collaborated on by anyone you choose. And backups are limitless. And it’s free.
The direction the internet is headed, as far as I can tell, is to make the desktop a portal. One of the first things to go has been applications (I can’t remember the last time I used Word if I didn’t need to) and storage is not too far down the list. In some ways, this is an exciting shift that’s happening. In other ways, it may only be the changing of hands (from the big shots now to the little shots who are going to be big shots later). Only time will tell.