Moving to the Cloud

Using cloud computing services

6 May 2011

Storing documents using Dropbox, playing games with OnLive—more and more people are moving their data to the cloud. And in March, Amazon launched a cloud service for music. Cloud computing services allow users to access their content, including files, games, and music, from any computer by connecting to outside servers that store the data.

Fans of cloud computing say they like being able to access content from any Internet-connected device without worrying about running out of storage space. But critics warn that cloud data can be unreliable for those accessing it from mobile devices, because fast Wi-Fi networks aren't found everywhere and cellular networks are getting more congested. Some are also concerned with the security of their data.

Will storage in the cloud become the most popular way to store data? Would you or do you already use cloud services?

A Useful Tool for School
I am a college professor who has begun to use the cloud to benefit my students. Cloud servers are an ideal platform for interactive instructional media accessible by anyone with an Internet connection. I also use cloud servers to access project management tools that my students can use to document status updates and to store project design documents.

Tom Kaminski
Madison, Wisc.

Have a Backup Plan
While storing data in the cloud might, in some cases, make things more convenient, there are reliability and security issues. The recent downtime and subsequent loss of data with the Amazon EC2 cloud service shows this all too well. I am not going to store anything online unless I have my own copy on my personal computer and it does not contain private or sensitive information.

Mark D. Anderson
Green Valley, Ariz.

Stay Inside
Clouds sometimes rain. I like to keep my data at home, warm and dry.

Ken Krechmer
Palo Alto, Calif.

Easy to Use
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have led us to expect our data to be accessible from anywhere and easily shared with just the touch of a button. Otherwise, users have to carry storage drives containing their files or attach them to e-mails. User-friendly interfaces and widespread availability will continue to drive the cloud’s popularity. As for companies, privacy issues and the risks of losing data will hinder cloud computing’s widespread adoption.

Hamdullah Mohib
Uxbridge, United Kingdom 


Too Much Traffic
I use cloud services for sharing data and I’ve definitely experienced overly congested cellular networks and painfully slow Wi-Fi, leaving me without easy access to my data. I won't be moving to the cloud for primary storage any time soon. I'll continue to use it for file sharing only.

Robert Palmer Jr.
Knoxville, Tenn.

Stay in Control
I think the whole concept of cloud computing is overhyped. It certainly can save end users money on data storage devices and personal servers, but the technology is only one or two major security breaches away from having people lose confidence in it. If you don't control your own data, someone else will.

Kevin Joyce
Utica, N.Y.  

For People on the Go
I'm already in the cloud. That means I can access my most important documents anywhere I have bandwidth and an Internet connection—either with my Android phone, iPod Touch, Blackberry, or one of my laptops. This suits me well because I travel a lot.

Mark Swope
Katy, Texas

Start Small
Cloud computing is a great way to handle small data files and text-only content efficiently, whether it be for business or personal use. However, files greater than 100 megabytes should be kept off the cloud until cloud computing technology can support larger files without crashing or slowing down the server.

Daniel Atwater
Oonoomba, Australia


Safer in the Cloud
Last month my laptop went missing for 18 hours. All of my personal and financial data was on the hard drive. I was horrified at the idea that whoever stole my laptop might steal my identity.

I eventually found my laptop untouched but now I’m going to move all of my data to the cloud so no one will be able to access my files, even if my computer is stolen.

Robert Galgano
Sutton, Mass.


Responses to February's question

Year Two of 3-D TV

For the second year in a row, 3-D televisions were featured at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January. Despite their promotion at last year's CES, 3-D TVs failed to draw many buyers. About 3.2 million were sold around the world last year, according to the NPD Group, a market researcher. Analysts attribute the relative lack of interest to the TVs' high prices, which usually start around US $2000. And the sets require special eyeglasses that can each cost $150. In addition, many people recently shelled out a lot of money to upgrade to high-definition television. On top of all that, several health reports have warned that watching in three dimensions for extended periods can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Will 3-D TVs ever become popular? What would it take for you to buy one?

Not Worth the Price
Price is a major issue. I purchased an HDTV, and it is working fine—I see no reason to spend more money on 3-D technology. Having to wear special glasses just to watch TV is an issue as well. I could not justify a major cost increase just to watch a few 3-D shows.

John Redmon
West Orange, N.J.

Lose the Glasses
They will become popular as soon as 3-D glasses are not required to view TV shows and movies. I will not purchase a 3-D TV until that happens.

Hentie Dirker
Burlington, Ont., Canada

Not for Entertainment
I have no interest in 3-D technology for entertainment, and I don't intend to buy a 3-D TV. If a TV program or movie isn't put together skillfully enough to hold the viewer's attention, no amount of special effects will help.
My only interest in 3-D is its potential to aid in solving technical problems and in viewing pictures sent from robots such as the Mars rovers. I feel that 3-D TV has no future in entertainment, and it will soon fade away.

Kenneth Hoffmann
Alexandria, Va

Consider Your Options
I went to the Consumer Electronics Show last year and saw the various picture qualities that were available as well as the different price levels. I selected the vendor that offered superior picture quality packaged with satellite TV service and compatibility with Blu-Ray DVD players. I wish more content was available, but that problem will clear up in time.

I think most people would be very pleased with both the 3-D effect and the experience if they use a good system and watch content that does not just employ dramatic visual effects to try to boost sales. My definition of a good system is one that uses shutter systems, not the simple colored or polarizing systems, which offer mediocre quality at best. I certainly would not have purchased a 3-D TV if that's what I had to watch.

Don't judge the technology by the weakest version available.

Ron Meyer
Parker, Texas

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