The Cloud Is a Lie


| Devil's Advocate

Page 2 – Poof Goes Your Music, Backups, and Cloud-Reliant Hardware

Poof’d goes your music

The latest trend in eroding ownership of data comes from streaming music, e.g., Apple Music and Spotify.  In the guise of music discovery, this shift into music rentals is a careful weening of people off the concept of owning their own music or data.

Streaming music, in some ways, becomes the gateway drug to getting you to accept that you don’t own any data, but that your data is instead the product. And one day, when you have too many playlists invested in a service, you will discover the same pain all cloud services deliver. You’re stuck with that service if you want access to the data you created. If that service shuts down, you’re likely SOL in getting your own data out.

Just like Apple’s Ping, Microsoft’s Zune, Samsung’s Milk, Rdio, Grooveshark and other services, so, too, will these current streaming services one day die. At the end, you’ll have nothing to show for it. And if you think Zune and other DRM services aren’t cloud services, try to play those DRM tracks; they won’t play because the DRM authorization service required to play those now useless tracks was a cloud server that is no more. Also, good luck getting your carefully crafted playlists out of one service, and working in another service; all that invested energy in curating rented music goes down the drain.

But music is mostly meaningless compared to the other more valuable data you have up in the cloud.

Poof’d goes your online stored/productivity data/backups

So you thought it was a good idea to back up all your most sensitive data to the cloud? You pleb. What do you think happens with all that backed up data when your service provider goes belly up?  You hope the providers give you time to get your data out and securely delete it from their servers. At the very least, you hope service providers just delete it.

But if you look up on the list, you’ll see that some providers simply turned off their services. Users no longer had access to the data they uploaded, no easy data migration out of such services, nor could they delete that data.  Other services went out of business, and who knows where that data lands as assets go through the bankruptcy process.

Poof’d goes your cloud reliant hardware

What happens when your hardware depends on a cloud service that shuts down? The hardware becomes a brick. Take the Coin 2.0 credit card, a little plastic card that can load in up to 8 of your credit cards so you only have to carry the one Coin card. It’s useless now since it can’t contact its cloud server that recently shut down.

The Nest Revolv smarthome hub is a brick without a cloud server. Things like eero WiFi routers and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices that have to call a cloud server may become useless bricks once their wiretap connection goes dead with its cloud server host.

Have fun building your house with a ton of IoT devices that may go belly up with the ‘off’ switch of a cloud server. And beyond the boat anchoring of IoT devices, there are the tons of data generated by them. How many people are in your house, when you opened your fridge, when you went to the bathroom. All that data—not owned by you—will no doubt be lovingly cared for. Because nothing is more trustworthy than oversight of your most intimate data by a now defunct cloud service provider.

Next: Poof Goes Your World and Your Security, and Digital Serfs

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John Kheitwab95awhConstable Odogeoduck Recent comment authors

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wab95
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wab95

John:

I think you’re right. We’re agreeing past each other.

I had not appreciated the important distinction in your argument of ‘reasonable expectation’, and concur with that; thus my examples with a binary expectation of ‘dead’ or ‘alive’ was not apt.

Thanks for the clarification.

wab95
Member
wab95

John: At the risk of starting a flame war, which I am not attempting, and which I think you’re above in any case, let me use the Apple Notes deleted data recovery piece, which you cite, as an illustration of why the cloud is not a lie in my view; merely a very human, and therefore imperfect, creation. I pose this as food for thought in the wider context the process by which technology, and life writ large, improves. I do this because I think you’ve raised an important topic with broader relevance beyond that of the cloud. To argue… Read more »

wab95
Member
wab95

You’re welcome, John.

This is a good discussion.

We do agree on personal cloud solutions.

wab95
Member
wab95

John: You’ve made an excellent argument about two things, that: 1) one should not become complacent about any single data storage or backup option, particularly one that is proprietary and subject to competitive market forces, but that we should regularly, proactively manage those options, and; 2) given the current state of technology and law, companies (cloud services or otherwise) can abuse your privacy, compromise your security and do you untold harm. Agreed. Neither of these excellent and well-aimed arguments, however, prove or even suggest that the cloud is a lie. Indeed, the cloud is a clear, present and future reality.… Read more »

awh
Member
awh

That was kind of my point – what would be the equivalent of FDIC insurance for the cloud? Mandatory local backups of data? A Bill of Data Rights? Because we can rely on legislators to side with the little people, right?

It’s no wonder people are reverting to analogue.

awh
Member
awh

Thank you for such a well-researched piece – timely and necessary. But think for a moment – how is this any different from other ‘cloud’ services you’ve been using all your life? You work, you exchange your time and labour for some imaginary entity called ‘money’, which (unless you’re Captain Fantastic) you then keep it in a bank, or invest wherever. All the time it is nothing more than a string of bits held on some server somewhere or an entry in a ledger. And up until 2007/8 you never gave it a second thought. Why? Because trust in the… Read more »

Constable Odo
Member
Constable Odo

Wall Street has a different opinion of the cloud. It’s like any company that has cloud services has unlimited revenue potential. All Wall Street ever talks about is AWS. AWS this and AWS that. Amazon has hitched on to bottled lightning. It seems the only major tech company that isn’t going after cloud services is Apple. I’m really surprised Apple hasn’t tried to go after some cloud services if there’s so much unlimited revenue in that business. Listening to Wall Street, I honestly thought there was so much low-hanging fruit that was easily picked by any company with cloud services.… Read more »

geoduck
Member
geoduck

There is some truth in this. But you’ve gone too far the other way. Yes music and software as service through the cloud is a bad deal. But using the cloud as ONE PART of your data strategy is a good thing. I use the cloud for backing up and sharing data, but also keep local copies of things. Also not all cloud services are prone to disappearing in the dark of night. I have no qualms about using iCloud because Apple is not likely to vanish. Apple also has the toughest security for their services of anyone. They are… Read more »

Jamie
Member
Jamie

I can’t argue with any if this and have felt this way ever since cloud services were first announced. I don’t rely on them for anything but trivial, non-sensitive backups. I would further argue that an awful lot of, if not most of what tech companies are offering/planning/working on these days is similar hoodwinkery. They can pry my backup drives out of my cold, dead, fingers, and my personal files and data will never reside soley on their servers, if at all. Thanks for having the cojones to write this, John – exposing the emperor’s nakedness is not a popular… Read more »