In the Cloud

Since 1982 I have had some sort of “local computing” capability. Mind you the earliest stuff was pretty primitive. Limited software, limited storage, slow processing. But it worked.

I couldn’t really get into “cloud computing” at that point because the Internet did not exist then. That didn’t happen until I got online in 1996. And then it was the cloud’s turn to be primitive. We had mostly text-based stuff that we downloaded and read offline (emails, forum posts) and our connect time was expensive and restricted.

Well I don’t have to tell you that times have changed. Now we have broadband Internet, Google Drive, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook, high speed routers, smartphones, Roku…you name it. We’ve been online 24/7 for years.

The main difference between local computing and cloud computing is the way you do stuff – write, calculate, store photos. If you still do that on your home computer you are a local user. If you do it through a Web browser you are a cloud user.

My grandkids are cloud users for sure. Their school provides them with a Google account and GSuite – a bunch of calculation, writing and communication apps they use through Google Chrome. They can work anywhere, on any computer – even a cellphone if Dad lets them.

In Grandpa’s case, it’s a bit more complicated. Things like this blog have to be cloud-based – I don’t want to host an Internet server in my house. We store our email on the provider’s servers.

But I don’t use a cloud model for photography. I still download my photos to my main desktop and back them up locally. I upload what I need to my website or to Google Drive. The main reason for this is I have a lot of photos and my upload speed to the cloud is very slow compared to download, Each photo would take a couple of seconds to upload and that is a lot if you have a couple of hundred to store.

I also prefer to use my own software to write documents, do calculations and – to a much lesser extent now – make slide presentations.

Do I anticipate a move totally to cloud computing in my future? Never say never I guess. But right now I believe that I get faster speeds and more security by keeping things local. It will take quite a massive increase in upload speed before storage on a remote server can match the speed of a hard drive, let alone a solid-state drive.

Now if we ever get speeds like some fiber-based ISPs in the US. 1Gb down, 1Gb up…hmm.

Published by Ray MacDonald

Ray MacDonald is a retired food scientist who lives in Almonte, ON.
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