Where is your cloud data? Can you find it all?


cloudIt must be Monday as I am finding myself thinking about everything I do and more importantly, where all my stuff is stored.  We have long covered cloud technology and made cases for keeping as much of our stuff stored in the cloud as possible.  It is handy and becoming easier to do without a second thought, and that in itself may become a problem.

I’m going to purposely avoid defining the cloud, partially because it means different things to different people but mainly because I’m not brave enough to do so.  I will say that for the purpose of this article I’m not talking about my documents that might be stored somewhere in the sky, no I’m talking about all the peripheral information that has become cloud data simply by virtue of how I create it.

One of the biggest obstacles that folks mention when the subject of cloud adoption comes up is that they don’t feel comfortable with all their data in one place.  We are basically people who like to have control over our stuff and this argument is not surprising.  What might surprise some of these folks is realizing their data is actually scattered all over the cloud and it might be a good idea to take stock what they have stored where.

Many folks use Flickr to store photos so they may have a ton of data in that particular cloud.  This would be separate from all the documents and files that might be stored with SugarSync or one of the other cloud storage facilities.  Other folks may have stuff stored with MobileMe at Apple, or some other online storage service.  Then there are online PIM data services that many use, such as Google Calendar and the like.  Don’t forget LinkedIn or Plaxo if you use one of those online services.  All of these have your data somewhere, and totally out of your control.

It is much more common than many realize to have personal data spread all over the cloud.  Most of the time we don’t think about this, we just use our data on these services and keep plugging away.  The fact of the matter is any company with a service you use may go away and you’ll need to get at your data to move it somewhere else.  Don’t think this couldn’t happen to you, thousands of I Want Sandy users are still reeling over the shuttering of this popular service.  Maybe it’s a good idea to sit down and figure out where all your data is spread over the cloud, just in case you need to get it back.


Mike from ParaScale

Good post. Yet another cloud term “personal cloud”. I like it. Good call dodging the definition, that is never ending rat hole. So is my personal cloud scattered everywhere I post a comment or photo? I suppose so.

But how does this apply to an enterprise??

Mike Maxey


That home server is not a cloud. A “cloud” is called a “cloud” because the location is unspecified.

And it doesn’t offer the same kind of data protection that the cloud does. Does your home server have the same level of redundancy, data backup depth, maintenance, or backup power that google or Amazon does (to name a few cloud providers)? Google has entire server and storage farms that run off hydroelectric power. What fire, flood, theft, or hard drive crash could shut down google?

Sure they can rummage through my files, but why would they want to? If they want to read my stupid reports and memos, they are welcome to it. And anyway, I can encrypt the files if I want.

I bet someday not only will Internet be a utility, but data storage and CPU cycles will be utilities too, with a range of speeds and capacities all available to purchase. Same thing with data security and privacy.


The “personal cloud” is good but again goes back to the issue of backups. Having everything on a server in your home is great for home and access on the road when it’s set up properly, but you then need to ensure the security of your data. Keeping it on a RAID in that windows home server is a start, but then you also want to think about backing up to another machine or external hard drive every once in a while so you have a snapshot in the event of some other catastrophic event happening to your WHS. Backing up from home to the internet may be an option depending on the amount of data, but now as ISP’s like Comcast give us 250 gig caps on traffic, you won’t be able to back up large amounts before getting blacklisted by your own ISP.


Windows Home Server gives me the best of both worlds. I can access ALL my data including music, photos, video, documents, applications from any PC with an internet connection and I don’t have to rely on some third party. That means that my data is secure, I don’t have to worry about Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc. going through my stuff, I don’t have to worry about changes to Terms & Conditions or bankruptcy and there are no monthly charges.

It also means that I have super fast access to everything on my home network (which isn’t an option with a 3rd party that stores your data on their servers) and no file limits in terms of the size or type of file.

IMO this is the cloud done properly. I protect my privacy and my data without losing access to it.


Hi James. Full disclosure here: I work for http://www.nomadesk.com, which offers easy and secure file sharing, wherever you are. I read your post on cloud storage with great interest and just wanted to add NomaDesk to the mix.
In fact, NomaDesk is geared towards the need of the “digital nomad”. We are convinced that the more data gets synchronized, the more likely it gets compromised. Therefore, NomaDesk includes an encrypted virtual drive that keeps your files securely available off-line and remote file shredding and IP-tracking with TheftGuard. Yes, your data remains with you also! Of course, we impose no limits on storage and bandwidth.
The current NomaDesk release 2.6 displays file states and indicate whether files are already in use by someone else. You are also able to add and review notes (i.e. meta-data). The Mac version is on its way.

I would appreciate your review.

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