Why I don’t love the Cloud

There’s a lot of talk about Cloud Computing lately. There’s been a lot for the past couple of years, but with Apple’s announcement of the iCloud, everyone’s doing the talking.

iCloud Media Cloud

This is also something Google has gotten into, with their Google Music and to an extent Google Docs. So this isn’t just a slam against Apple, they’ve just gotten all of the press lately.

Like most good ideas, iCloud is a simple one: Since there are so many devices you may have – an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, and/or an Apple computer, iCloud would be the place where all of your files and contacts live, so all of your devices can be synced up easily. Rather than living on your base computer’s hard drive, and updating everything one by one, the Cloud will simply do it for you. What’s more, your files would be accessed wirelessly and not have to live on an old fashioned, poopy hard drive.

So where do I begin with my complaints on this? All of them stem from two things that drive me crazy with modern technology: The over-large corporation that tells its users this is a good idea, and the mass of users who go along with the hype.

First off, storing all of my files on an Apple server means I no longer have my own files. There is a flimsy contract between the provider and myself that my files will be secure and always waiting for me. What happens when they aren’t though? If I am a salesman, and I lose all my contacts through a snafu with their cloud, how will I be compensated for all the lost sales that would result?

Then there’s the purely selfish reason: I have a LOT of illegally burned content. Not necessarily stolen, but I do burn my own copies of CDs and DVDs – if you’ve been online for at least a few years, you do too. What’s to say the owner of the cloud service doesn’t bow down to the RIAA or Paramount or Universal, and let them look over my collection to see if there’s anything lawsuit-worthy?

Finally, assuming there aren’t any technical or draconian legal issues, there’s still the problem of bandwidth. Loading all of your music onto the iCloud and syncing it with your iPad on the go is great – until everyone else does it too. I actually like the idea of cloud computing to store some files. But what happens when everyone’s device relies on a mobile data plan to get its music?

What happens is everything will get slower.

It is possible to get enough servers and towers to make this work. That will be incredibly expensive, of course, and that cost will be passed onto the consumer – namely, you. And me, in fact, whether I use it or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if in a year or two Android or iPhone data plans drive the monthly cost up to $200 per month.

The current cost is already too high for something as simple as a phone in my opinion. All the market needs to do is tell companies they’re willing to spend twice as much on their service just to avoid manually syncing devices. Then they can charge almost as much as they want to.

All just so Apple can stop putting hard drives in iPods, and sell you more crap exclusively on iTunes? It sounds like we’re all lining up for a major screwing.

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5 comments

  1. Some of this is a little paranoid. For a security breakdown, a LOT has to go wrong first. Given how much time Apple has put into iCloud, I don’t think there’s that much to worry about.

  2. On the other hand, nearly a million laptops and smart phones are lost or stolen every year. Despite several highly publicized breaches (like the Sony one cited above), I’d wager that the cloud providers have more physical and virtual safeguards than you or I do in our homes.

    As for bandwidth and storage space, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the costs of both drop rapidly. Nielsen’s law is the bandwidth equivalent of Moore’s law. Kryder’s law is the storage equivalent of the same. So I’m not terribly worried about costs spiking for all of us.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Akira!

      Have cell phone prices actually gone down? I use a contract free provider, so they have to be cheap. But the Big 4 seem to cost as much as ever.

      And I don’t doubt Apple and Google have a lot of security around the data they’ll be holding. When my data is eventually stolen, however, I won’t be able to undo the decision to put my information there.

  3. Ok I have more of a question than a complaint. What happens should i startup iCal on my computer and the file/folder in corrupt? Does the resulting empty file/folder get pushed along or is there a back up somewhere?

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