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The Cloud is not Enough – Local Storage is Still Essential

by Sage Lane | March 21, 2012March 21, 2012 1:00 pm PDT

I am returning my new iPad. It’s not that I don’t like it. I’ve always been a pixel-density devotee, and the new display really does it for me. It’s just that after less than a week, I have come to realize that it doesn’t have enough. Storage, that is.

I have 112 audio files, mostly songs, but also including three of the most recent episodes of ten of my favorite podcasts. I have roughly 2,000 photos. I have 23 applications. I have no videos. I would not consider any of these categories to be above average. Hardly. In fact, I would argue that in most of these categories I fall below the mean. Yet here I am, left with a few paltry gigabytes to spend. 2.3, to be exact.

It’s not that I couldn’t make do with the 16 I was allotted. I could cycle out games and podcasts. But I don’t want to, nor did I anticipate having to.

Perhaps it was a little shortsighted to get carried away with the belief that “the truth is in the cloud”. But it was an easy phrase to trust. With so many of the most competitive companies, from Apple to Google, preaching the benefits of cloud computing, it was easy to accept the idea that cloud storage would render many of the problems of native storage moot.

However sagely that thought was originally, the present reveals that such a life spent in the cloud – or at least a life spent storing in the cloud – isn’t very practical, flexible or realistic. The new iPad is a harbinger of that truth, that at least in the present and the near-future, native storage is going to be a highly valued asset.

To illustrate that, lets look at the new iPad. Many apps have been updated in order to take advantage of the new hardware, and the file sizes in many cases reflect that point with their expanding waistlines. One well-publicized example is Apple’s own iMovie. At first release, it was 70MB. Now it has ballooned to over 400MB.

But the impetus for sizable native storage doesn’t lie solely in the realm of video games, or other extensively large files. Most important are the items that come in large sets, such as pictures and music, files that you expect to be able to enjoy instantaneously. If we were in a post-wireless society, one that wasn’t defined by bandwidth or coverage, but merely as being either “on” or “off”, this wouldn’t be a problem. But we’ve yet to progress to this utopian plane of service, and the ability to access an entire library of songs and photos immediately isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation.

I would be remiss to downplay the importance of cloud storage, and to purchase a device that didn’t embrace at least some aspects of the technology would be foolish. However, it would be equally foolish to expect a present or a future that relies heavily on it. Instead, we should rely on one that is supplemented by the cloud, not replaced by it.


Sage Lane

Sage is a wandering vagabond currently based out of Seoul. When he's not busy scouring the web for the latest tech news and gossip, he does his best...

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