Against the cloud: An unscheduled post
I’ve been using Dropbox for the past two years, and it has greatly simplified my life, allowing me to seamlessly move among my various work and home computers and even giving me access to all my files from my Blackberry. Yet there’s something about “cloud”-based storage that disturbs me. First of all, it seems strange that now that massive local storage drives are cheaper than ever, suddenly we need to transfer all our files to distant corporate servers — local storage is faster and more reliable for most purposes. Also, most computer users have a more or less constant connection to the Internet and leave their computers on all the time anyway.
So what I’m wondering is why we can’t just make our own personal “clouds” and cut out the corporate servers entirely. To take the model of Dropbox — it creates a local folder on all the computers you install it on. If you change or add a file in that folder, it gets uploaded to the Dropbox server and then propagated to all the other machines you’ve tied to your account. If one of the machines is off or disconnected from the internet, it syncs back up whenever possible, and otherwise it’s more or less instantaneous (i.e., it takes less time than it takes me to walk from one end of my apartment to the other).
Is there some obstacle preventing the implementation of this basic model through something like BitTorrent? BitTorrent has no centralized server, but merely a “tracker” that allows you to plug into a purely peer-to-peer, open-ended file distribution system — so why couldn’t my various machines be a peer-to-peer file distribution unto themselves, and why couldn’t I add new machines and remove old ones on the fly?
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