Operation Cloud Manifesto

posted in: Digital Minimalism | 0

cloudsI’ve written before about my little “cloud experiment,” which I’m calling, “Operation Cloud,” here, and over on Google+

Essentially, I’m trying to carve-out a little time each week to move more and more of my life into the Cloud.

The “Cloud” is a pretty generic (and inconsistently used) term, so one of the first things I want to do here, is define my my use of it.

For the purpose of this little experiment, it will mean, “not here,” or, “elsewhere.”

Already, I can store “stuff” (music, photographs, documents) in “The Cloud,” (not here), and I can send time-consuming computer processing tasks to “The Cloud” (not here), or I can even run my own programs in “The Cloud” (not here), but “Operation Cloud” is an experiment to see if someone really can (practically) move his or her entire life to The Cloud. Or, in my case, the lives of both my wife and I.

Why? Have You Lost Your Mind?

No, at least I don’t think I have. But I have lost a computer. Actually, more than a few computers. And no matter how much care I’ve taken to back things up, I always lose something in the process. And in the best cases, I lose hours and hours of time getting my stuff back, once I’ve got my new computer plugged-in, and running.

I once had a really elaborate backup system, with redundant computers at home making copies of each other constantly, and an external hard drive always maintaining its own copy of everything. One day it occurred to me, “What if the house burned-down tomorrow?” I’d be left without a backup of anything, so “on-premises backup” was crossed-off my list of serious solutions.

Now there are off-premises backup solutions that will certainly do in a pinch. These services let you upload & store your “stuff” on their servers, where it’s safely kept until you need to restore it.

But I’ve tried those, and found them not too terribly practical (for me). With tens of thousands of songs, just as many photographs, and countless documents and spreadsheets, I’d age significantly during the backup, and would have to spend hours (if not days) doing a restore.

My ultimate goal – I want to be able to purchase a new device, log-in, and have everything as I left it, regardless of whether that new device is a PC or a Mac, a tower or a laptop, a phone or a tablet.

Fortunately, services exist today that let you do that – Put your stuff in the cloud once, and always have access to it on any device, any time, any place.

That is my ultimate goal for all my stuff – For everything!

When evaluating the various options for each type of “stuff” I have, I laid-down some criteria:

  • I’ve got to trust my “stuff” to companies that will be around for awhile. While there’s never any guarantee that a company will exist tomorrow, I’m fairly certain it’s possible to identify those most likely to remain, or if nothing else, likely to be purchased or merged.
  • Free is good, but I’ll spend a buck when I have to, if there are no better free alternatives.
  • Sharing is a goal. I want my stuff in places where I can easily share a picture with my son, or a spreadsheet with my friend, or a shopping list with my wife. Sharing adds value to the basic premise of having stuff stored in the cloud.
  • I need to get at my stuff anywhere, on any platform, including Android.
  • Each service I use must give me a way to export my stuff, in the event that I want to change providers some day. Also, for the time being, I’ll be keeping a backup of everything on a local hard drive, “just in case.”
  • I appreciate, and expect privacy, but I’m not a fanatic about it. I’ve read all the tirades about how information gleaned from your “stuff” is used (anonymously) to target ads, and to me, that’s fine. I’m a middle-aged guy, and I appreciate seeing online ads for things that interest me, and that I’ve been researching online. I find that preferable to ads targeting teenage girls. In fact, to me, that’s a benefit.

Those strike me as very realistic and basic criteria on which the experiment has begun.