As mobile technology continues to move forward at a rapid rate and consumer demand for instant access to music, movies, images and files continues to grow, the issue of storage has loomed large on the horizon. Our online lives are tied intrinsically with our record collections, our photo albums and even our home videos, and as such, internal handset storage and card-based options such as MicroSD have begun to struggle with increasingly large demands. The result? Manufacturers, operators and consumers are looking to cloud-based storage as the solution. Here we’ll take a look at what the cloud is, what it can do for you and how it will shape the mobile future.
Where Is The Cloud?
Mobile cloud storage at its most basic is an online space allocated to a user which allows them to store their movies, images, music and other documents remotely. Storing files in the cloud then means that they are not taking up all the storage space on a mobile device and that the data can be easily recovered if the device is lost, damaged or stolen.
From a physical perspective, user’s files are stored on servers in large data centres operated by the operator of the service. Apple’s iCloud data centre, for example, is housed in a huge facility in Maiden, North Carolina where many hundreds of servers spread over a 500,000 square feet area contain the files of many millions of iCloud users.
The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Cloud Storage
Although cloud storage use has become widespread amongst mobile users, many consumers remain sceptical of the service due to a number of factors. Concerns such as the security of data storage, the costs involved and the chance that a service provider may go out of business (thus losing user data) have all been expressed by consumers.
However, the advantages of the cloud are now at a point where they far outweigh the potential weaknesses. With cloud storage, a user’s files are available anywhere, accessible from almost any device, making sharing and consuming media more efficient than ever before. Additionally, if a device is damaged or lost a user will have all data saved and available to upload onto a new unit.
Current Cloud Options
There are a plethora of cloud storage options available today, varying from manufacturer-led integrated designs to simple pay-per-gigabyte services offered by various smaller service providers. Apples iCloud is probably considered the current benchmark for mobile cloud storage as it offers seamless integration across devices and its auto-save feature makes the service extremely user friendly.
Other key providers include Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox, Box.net and Microsoft Windows Live Skydrive. Samsung is looking to release its own iCloud competitor within the next 12 months, to be known as S-Cloud and Google will launch its GDrive service in April 2012. As the technology becomes more popular it seems reasonable to assume that many more cloud storage systems will become available.
Looking To The Horizon
As the use of cloud storage becomes more and more ingrained into the smartphone user experience it is almost inevitable that the service will become more integrated with different aspects of technology.
Much like the iTunes revolution, the move to the cloud will mean consumers will eventually have access to all of their files and data across a plethora of devices and screens. For example a user will be able to access their iTunes library from the touchscreen display in their car and when the journey is over they will be able to resume listening on their TV at home, with all devices pulling media from a cloud account.
Although the technology is still evolving we expect to see a time in the not too distant future whereby a consumer will be able to access their files from any connected screen anywhere in the world.