When I first started in computing, and that was well after the abacus but before hard drives, we used to have all our data on floppy disks.  Hundreds of them.   I used to pull a pristine disc out of the box and then a new label.  Then, in my very best handwriting, normally reserved for the first page of a brand new notebook,  I’d write out the label.

What then?  I’d take the copy disc and carefully place it in a plastic storage box with another hundred or so similarly labelled discs.

Did the floppy ever fail?  Sometimes, but to the best of my recollection, always on the last or penultimate disc of a set of 15 or so Microsoft system discs.  Never on my carefully backed up data.  And so the floppy collection grew until I moved to hard drives.  I started backing up to floppies but that didn’t last long.  Pretty soon I progressed through Iomega 100MB Zip drive and 2 GB Jaz drives, with a little dalliance with Bernoulli discs along the way.

Then I started burning CD’s.  Painfully at first, but with great aplomb after a while.

Recently, I took a black sack full of floppy drives to the recycling tip.  The bag was so full, I could barely lift it.  I thought about security and contemplated a bonfire but decided that any would-be data thief would need psychiatric counselling by the end of wading through all that rubbish, looking for a crumb of worthwhile ID to steal.

I still have my CD’s.  Neatly filed away in a 100 disc binder.  Have I ever resorted to them?  Well that would be interesting, my new computer doesn’t have a CD drive.  No doubt I’d resource one ‘in extremis’.

Where next in this tale did all my money go?  External hard drives.  Several, with ever increasing capacities.  They did start to fail so I began backing up to Raid, duplicated systems.  NAS drives on the network followed.  Raid of course.  However, I’m still a sucker for a shiny little inexpensive 500GB super slim hard drive.  My mantra resembled Steve Balmer’s famous tirade; developers….developers …developers…except mine was backup….backup….backup.

Then one day, (cue the pretty music) Dropbox and Box and Sugarsync and Microsoft and iCloud et al, started plying me with GB’s of data.  Some free, some at reasonable cost.

Well have I got it out of my system?  Does the sanctuary of the Cloud allow me to go DD meetings and declare.  “My name is Ivor.”      “My name is Ivor and I haven’t brought a hard drive for six months.”   Not a hope.  After exhorting everyone to backup their data to the cloud for many years now I have flipped and started explaining why you now need to back it down from the cloud.

Do I have an irrational fear of Microsoft’s ability to keep my data safe?  Absolutely not.  The Cloud providers have spent millions of dollars in data duplication regimes. Sufficient to keep the most nervous of users content. (and user’s content).  Indeed, if the worst should happen I’ll be in good company.

No, the problem I have is more associated with my colleagues.  You see the whole raison d’être for writing documents for me is to share them.  With colleagues for peer review, audit, criticism, correction of my grammar, removal of libellous allegations. Whatever.  But there’s worse.  Me.  I’m the greatest risk to my data with my inadvertent deletions, scrappy cutting and pasting not to mention last minute changes when I’m tired and should leave well alone.

Recognising that the great thing about the cloud is that I don’t have to load up sequential uploads of incremental changes I can avoid versions called:  Report1.doc; Report2.doc; ReportFinal.doc; ReportFinal2.doc; ReportFinal-with-Phil’s-updates.doc;

I just load it up Report.doc and let my colleagues loose on it.  Except, I don’t trust them.  They make changes I don’t want because they didn’t read the brief first.  They make mistakes of their own.  They delete the whole document by mistake.  Meanwhile, I open my laptop to show someone the report so far and I’ve lost network connection.  Sure, I’ll get it back, but not this second!

No, I love leaving my documents in the Cloud, I just prefer to sync them with my laptop.  I use the Team Sites on Microsoft Office 365.  I allow Revelation3 to keep the Cloud folder in sync with my laptop.  Anybody changes my report.  No problem.  Revelation3 just versions my original for me.  I’m on a plane.  All the files I want are here with me.  I make a last minute change to the “report like what I wrote”.  Sorry, let me correct that grammar to “that, which I had written” and my little faux pas is just between me and my keyboard.  And then I just sync with the cloud with Revelation and it’s all copied up.  No excuses.  No arguments.  No “we’re down for maintenance between 2.00am and 4.00 am tonight.”  So if you want to erase my data you’ll have to prise it first from my cold dead fingers.

I wholly embrace the cloud.  I just don’t want to leave my data exclusively there.

My doctor said I don’t need therapy for my offline drive addiction.  He did add though that a few people he’s treating, deleted all their cloud data but might be ready to leave the sanatorium quite soon.

Ivor Share