I’m not 100% sure where it all started.  Perhaps it was Dropbox with its 2GB.  A base amount that gets pushed up quite easily by recommending additional new users. Then I bought a new phone and found I had an unsolicited 20GB added to my Dropbox account.  With a finite lifetime of course, but why worry.  I’ll just move my data later in a process akin to transferring balances between interest free credit card accounts. Then I signed up for SkyDrive and was allocated 2GB space and which then became OneDrive.  Then I started subscribing to Office 365 and incorporated OneDrive for Business.  That came with space too.

Now I’m not 100% sure what space I have and that gave rise to an interesting question.  Because, I have way more space than I need if I don’t use the space and nowhere near enough if I were to use the service.  Alright, I admit that’s a distortion of the truth, however, the way it pans out is this.

If I use the space just to store documents on which I’m working.  Perfect.  Believe me, I can’t type anything like enough to fill up that kind of storage space.  2GB -10GB – 20GB, who cares.  All are enough to store the less than prodigious output from my working day.  On the other hand, the moment I decide to take either one of two more steps and I’m left scratching for space, or more correctly paying for more.

Case Study 1.  I decide to use the Cloud for my photo library.  Quite aside from the logistics of pushing it all up there, I currently have so many images salted away on my network drive here that it would swamp the cloud storage I have currently been allocated.

Case Study 2.  I decide that the cloud is the ‘backup of last resort’ for my computer here.  That started out as a good idea and there are pockets of good sense in the plan.  But lets make clear what I can’t do.  My laptop has a Solid State Drive.  It’s a smallish size. 128GB  So can the cloud back it all up?  No way!  Well 25% way actually.  I could probably manage 32 GB in the cloud if I pool all the storage I have and maybe tickle up the allocation by throwing a few financial crumbs to Microsoft. But what’s the point.  If I tank up the cloud just to become an extra backup that’s just plain stupid.

Of course the answer is in the comparison between Backup and Archive.  On the one hand I want to have a backup in case I have a crisis here on Earth. On the other hand I want to have a reliable archive.  Somewhere I can permanently store all my photos. (and other stuff).

The benefits of storage on a local computer is that I can easily search and I can even more easily browse.  My SharePoint space fulfils that brief too, interestingly enough.  What doesn’t really work are the flotilla of small drives that currently act as my long term archive.  Sure I can browse them and search them…except they are locked up.  My reasoning was that when someone with a stripped jersey and mask breaks in one day and steals my computer, he or she will also take all the other computer stuff lying around.  Including any backup drives to hand.  Accordingly, I backup to a small drive, unmount the volume and lock it up a bit more securely.

What’s wrong with that?  Nothing much except the splendid storage regime that made perfect sense two or three months ago is long gone.  Let’s face it.  I can’t even remember what I went upstairs for.

Want more proof as to the fallibility of the approach.  Hands up anybody who can identify with this.  I start a new backup but for one reason or another I get called away.  1 GB copying is quick.  500GB takes forever.  Anyway, when I get back I find my copy is incomplete.  It a) wanted authorisation to copy a system file or something and only did 1GB with 499GB to go, or b) didn’t like or couldn’t find a file and wanted me to acknowledge the fact.  The net result.  It’s incomplete so I pack it all away and swear to myself I’ll complete the exercise later that day.

A full two months later I pick up the threads, except I can’t find the same threads and copy more of the same or perhaps some different data. Now I have two drives with a perfect venn diagram of partially duplicated data.

So what’s the net, net.  Well,  I have a desktop with lots of data.  Several cloud storage spaces with some data.  Some Network NAS drives with some other data and a few small drives in the safe with even more data.  I’m exaggerating to make the point.

I suppose what I really need to do is synchronise at least some it with SharePoint.  We started ‘Digilink’ life as a mechanism for synchronising data down from the cloud to laptops.  Persistent access to data we called it.  Now, I find myself just letting Digilink Revelation sync my data up to SharePoint.  Of course if I’m working with cloud based applications they’ll take care of that themselves but I’ll still let Revelation sync my data down to my laptop……….  But that’s another story.   Blog No.3 -“Backing up the Cloud – When do you bring Cloud data back to Earth?” to be precise.

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