I have been running my computers primarily on an Ubuntu system since Sept 2006. Over time, through a lot of tinkering and experimenting, I have generally “gunked up” my laptop installation. With the next Long-Term Service release of Ubuntu now in beta, with the final release due later this month, I decided that the new version will be a good point for a complete format-and-reinstall on that machine.
So if you’re going to roll with that sort of program, you have to do a lot of backing up. My
/home folders are all due for a sound cleaning out; a bigger project than one might realize. Lifehacker coincidentally had a post late in March that I begrudgingly took to heart (get rid of your ‘Miscellaneous’ filing category) as I set upon this task. I have always had trouble locating anything on my computers without at least a halfway-decent organizational structure, so a lot of what I need to do is just clean up stuff that’s been straggling, maybe add some new categories here or there.
When I checked out what I have on my server, there are lots of folders that are just going to be huge by nature–Movies, TV, Music, Photos, setup files–all are major data hogs. I can’t and don’t expect to pare those down much. After you isolate those big swaths of info, though, what I have left isn’t taking up much room at all– for me, it was just barely over 4 gigs. This is the area I can attack.
I’m using the free version of Dropbox for a variety of things: it’s an easy way to stash small files (word processing docs, spreadsheets, PDFs, maybe photos) that you’re planning to use in multiple places. I have a folder for “employment” documents, for example (resumes, cover letters, reference lists), that saves me from worrying if I remembered to grab something that I need before I left the house. Also, it’s tons smoother than logging in to the server at work for those occasions that I’m working remotely. Lists that I frequently need all have their place in the Dropbox1
Between the 2 gigs that I can get for zero monies from Dropbox, and another 2 that are available through the Ubuntu One service (almost exactly the same thing as Dropbox), I just about have myself covered. Why not just leave all this backup stress behind and toss my non-media data into the cloud? *sigh* Well, there are a few things:
- First, and obviously, one 2-gig service isn’t going to give me enough space. I’d be spreading myself out on multiple services, and that sort of negates the inherent efficiency of moving in this direction. Do I value the convenience enough to pay a hundred bucks a year (the going Dropbox rate) for 50 GB?
- Also, we’ve got your typical cloud-pushing paranoia. “Can I trust someone else to secure my data?” “I’ve never seen where this data is physically located,” etc., etc., etc. I have to say I’m starting to get over this one (these services all appropriately tout their security features), but it’s going to take time.
- Any technical limitations that I wouldn’t have with everything being stored “locally”? Doesn’t seem like it, but in my experience, you need some thorough real-world testing to know for sure.
I guess the toughest pill for me to swallow right now is the 100 bucks. You want me to plunk down a fairly significant wad of cash for 25 times more storage. What I would really prefer is slightly more storage (say, 20 or 25 gigs) at half the annual price. That would make it easier for me.
But either way, make no mistake – as we link our digital lives to more and more devices, seamless interoperability and access across multiple platforms becomes more and more important. I don’t know for sure if I’m ready to completely leap into cloud-based storage, but I’m going to have to think long and hard about it2, and this probably won’t be the last time.