This past weekend, I replaced a fan on my Drobo FS, a NAS unit that has been part of my digital life for over four years. As I waded through tiny screws and cramped steel casing to get to the internals, I kept thinking to myself "why am I wasting my time with this?" And "why haven't I moved everything (mostly photos) to one of those recent free unlimited storage providers like Google Photos or Amazon Cloud Drive?"
My NAS, My Mastodon
For years, I've been lovingly referring to my NAS as a mastodon. A powerful, strong, useful beast... that will eventually become extinct. Cloud storage would surely win. No hardware to personally maintain. Ultimate elasticity and redundancy. Much lower total cost of ownership. A NAS with disks could cost upwards of $600 or $700, which could instead be user to pay for many years of unlimited cloud storage. The cost of cloud storage has essentially been a big fat race to zero. So what's my problem, and why am I living in the past?
Ultimately, I'm still anxious about privacy and skeptical about some of the true costs of free storage. For example, Google Photos has a powerful search feature for my uploaded photos where I was able to enter a search for "watermelon" and find a picture from last year of my little girl wearing a watermelon dress. While this is a killer feature for end-users, I also find it to be a bit unnerving.
Projecting into the future, Google will have yet an even better idea of where I've been and what I've been doing. Demographic and psychographic marketing will be considered child's play compared to having total individual information about me. If I upload camping pictures every month of me in an Arcteryx jacket, sipping on a can of Pepsi, then I'm probably going to be served Pepsi ads all day until my laptop gets diabetes. I won't be able to go a day without seeing jackets, tents, and other gear from REI, The North Face, and Patagonia on sale. I won't be able to escape my consumer self.
Not everybody is squeamish about these kinds of things. Today, for much of my data, it doesn't really matter. But tomorrow may be a different story--when is too much information too much power? I'm very interested in seeing how cloud storage and privacy evolve over the next decade. There may be paid services that grow out of backlash against information harvesting. Encryption, security, and two-factor authentication may quickly become more of a concern in the near future, at least for certain personal files and work files.
When it comes to storage, I am Pro-choice
Fortunately, in a multiverse of both storage options and user needs, a product like odrive can level the playing field and facilitate choices. Without odrive, it would be painful to use multiple storage sources for content with different needs and contexts (e.g. OneDrive for my documents, Amazon Cloud Drive for my photos, a Google Drive account for work files, a personal Google Drive account, etc.). With odrive it's simple... you can tailor a blended storage strategy according to the specific needs of your data--be it privacy, security, cost, accessibility features, reliability, compliance, or anything else.
So for now, I will keep my mastodon and move my photo archive to Amazon Cloud Drive (sorry, Google). Fortunately, I have odrive File Server running on another computer at home so I can conveniently access my Drobo's contents as well. Will there ever be a one-size-fits-all solution for all of my data? I don't think so. And with odrive, it doesn't matter. Every provider can be a winner by providing the best solution for a particular use case, and every user can be a winner by using a combination of the best tools available.
Storage providers will come and go, but with odrive you can fluidly combine and organize your files so you're never forced to choose just one.