Everyone’s moving to the Cloud

Everyone is moving to the cloud. With the release of Google Drive, everybody else there is pulling up their socks, and real fast. Having worked a little on Cloud technologies, and having used different services for more than a couple of years, I thought it might not be a bad idea to write a short write-up on some popular services that I use/used to use,

MobileMe – Apple’s service that the fan-boys lapped up even if it meant you had to pay 100$ a year. (Not that it was a bad service at all. I think it was pretty good at what it was meant for.) I had a MobileMe account till recently, but if you follow your Apple news, you know that it is going away, replaced by the iCloud.

The two services I particularly liked about MobileMe were the Gallery and the iDisk. I never needed the Contacts or the Calendar, since I do not own an Apple device like and iPod/iPad/iPhone. (I did have a iPod touch briefly, but that didn’t really warrant having my contacts or calendars on it.) The password protect feature of the Gallery was rather nice, and the share files feature of the iDisk, I found to be useful. I could also mount the iDisk on my Windows machine as a network drive, so it was pretty neat. I used to use iWeb also briefly, to host web-pages – that was pretty decent I would say. Quick publishing, and hosting on your disk quota. Nice things to have.

Now, both the Gallery and iDisk will go away in June, and I was looking for an alternative to put that data somewhere.I don’t know how Photo Stream on the iCloud works just yet – as I mentioned before, I don’t have an iOS device to test this out. Also, I am not sure if you have to be locked in to Pages, Numbers and Keynote (iWork) to upload documents to the iCloud.

Dropbox
Ever since I started with my Masters degree, I knew all my documents like assignments, lab reports had to go on the cloud. If I was ever to lose my laptop, or if my hard disk was to die on me, I did not want to data to disappear with it. iDisk would have been my first choice, but, on Windows, I cannot really “Sync” content unlike a Mac, and on top of that I knew it was going away as well. No point in putting your data there. I was already using Skydrive at that point, even if it was called Live Mesh or something like that. (I don’t recollect it that well.)

Skydrive didn’t really hold up to iDisk at that time. iDisk almost allowed you to do things you would do on your desktop, on the browser, by using Sproutcore, and using it very well. At times, it could irritate you, but most times it was pleasing. In comparison, Skydrive had very limited options, and still worked the old world way of going through menus to move stuff around, create folders, using check-boxes …etc, which is the shittiest thing when you want to manage files.

Coming to Dropbox, it is a very neat service, which I plan to continue using. All my academic documents will remain on Dropbox, and I can sleep peacefully at night, that my report will not disappear. I had my hard disk pull a fast one on me a few weeks back, when I tried dual booting Ubuntu, and Windows complained. Thankfully, I could work on another computer and still access all of my files. Life saver!

Dropbox has also increased the free storage, and they offer some cool new features. I like the fact that on my Android phone, I can access the documents. I can sit in my classroom, and look at the lecture slides in class, without having to carry (lug is a more appropriate word) my laptop around. The new version of Adobe Reader, on Android even allows you to annotate your pdf’s right from your phone – talk about cool. I really wanted this feature on the phone, even if the Reader keeps hanging from time to time when you load large pdf’s on it.

The Camera Upload option is pretty neat as well. I mean, I lost a few pictures sometime back, and these were important pictures – drawings on the white board which I was supposed to share with a larger set of people. I had moved the photos out of my memory card and on to my Computer, only to lose the partition due to some dumb&%%$ fault of mine. Well, once bitten, I appreciate the auto-upload feature.

Looks like Dropbox is coming up with even more features. I may not readily use everything new that they implement, but it is still nice to see they are innovating.

Skydrive

Skydrive has improved a bunch since the last time I used it. And for having joined Skydrive early, I got 20Gig worth of storage space. Now, I read somewhere that this is for a limited period, so I don’t intend on filling the space up, only to delete them later. Also, the interface has improved quite a bit on the web. The desktop app is a welcome sign. It works just like Dropbox now. But I shall not switch from Dropbox just yet. For now, my academic documents stay on Dropbox, and my personal stuff that needs backing up shall stay on Skydrive – basically everything that used to be on MobileMe.

As an Android user, Skydrive is not available on it. But I don’t know, I might not really switch or even try out Google Drive – maybe except to have a redundant copy just for the rainy day when something in Dropbox goes horribly wrong, or they have a downtime.

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