For years we’ve been told to backup our programs and data just in case something bad happened, but we’re entering an age where more and more of our precious data isn’t stored on our PC anymore.
Since the first PCs were introduced we’ve grown accustomed to having nearly complete control over our programs, files, and data. We want to know that if anything goes wonky we still have copies of our stuff on floppies or hard drives or CD-ROMs. We’re still a bit hesitant to hand over control of our stuff to some website or cloud service. What if they crash, get hacked, or simply go out of business? How do I get my stuff back then?
But this mindset has been gradually changing. To a degree it started with email. In many cases you didn’t really know where your emails were stored. Today, Gmail, Hotmail, and other non-company-controlled email services store everything on a remote server somewhere and if you ever had to access your email from someone else’s computer you know that’s a good thing.
Then you have things like Facebook and nobody seems to mind that all their photos and posts are stored somewhere else. People also don’t really care (or even know) if the information they access is actually stored on their smartphone or somewhere else, as long as they can access that information whenever they want.
The latest iteration of this approach is Google’s Chrome OS and shipments of Chromebooks. Chromebooks are essentially just ARM-based laptops with minimal power and storage with the Chrome OS web-browser installed. Basically all they can do is connect to Google’s website, and just about everything you do with a Chromebook is stored somewhere else.
So I wonder if we are finally reaching a point where we’re comfortable having all our stuff stored somewhere else as long as we can pick up any device and access it whenever we want, or do we still want copies of our stuff stored on a local device? I think it will eventually be a combination of both. Sometimes we want to know where our stuff is (in our possession) but we’re perfectly happy to let someone else control other stuff.
Now I have Netflix connected to my Blu-ray player through a WiFi connection to my router and cable modem. It’s a great service for watching movies – especially ones that may or may not be worth owning, but I still buy discs of movies that I like because my favorites might not be available on Netflix tomorrow or next week or next year. When Netflix can guarantee that every movie ever made (or at least the ones I want to watch) will be available forever, then I might stop adding physical discs to my personal library and let them handle the storage.