Nov 11, 2008

[Web 2.0] The Security of the Cloud

Mi sistema GTD en Google DocsImage by Francesc Esteve via FlickrSome of you may have noticed a significant drop in my posting frequency here at the Geeky Guide. Initially it was related to increased work load in terms of my "day job" as a Product Training Manager for a call center here in Manila, Philippines. Eventually things got worse when someone broke into our apartment about two weeks ago and stole my laptop and my Sony DSC-H50 digital camera. Thus I lost my primary way of updating this blog and have fallen back to sharing computer time via my partner's desktop. Major bummer, I know.

After the initial shock about the theft had past and I started to sit down and figure out how much of my personal data may be at risk should the burglars get past my Windows password, I realized that I wasn't in too bad a situation. While there were still a few work-related files that I had stored on the computer, most of what had been lost consisted of music downloads, comic scans and a ridiculous amount of, well, video content potentially of the adult variety.

What had saved me from potential identify theft was actually my decision to migrate many of my files online and embrace the .

I never considered getting into cloud computing because of notions of security. Frankly, it all started with my interest in the novelty of Google Docs and the need to work off multiple computers. I can get pretty obsessive about how I manage our finances at home and thus I like being able to work on my personal ledgers, expense trackers and budget calculators whether I'm at home or at work. Thus I opted to try learning how to work using online office suites like Google Docs in order to maximize the benefits given my personal needs.

As time progressed and Google added more and more spreadsheet functions to Docs, it became truly feasible for me to migrate all data off my laptop and my desktops into the "cloud" as it were and work in a completely online mode. I already had a broadband connection at home and thus there was really nothing much stopping me.

While cloud computing is not for everyone depending on the complexity of your needs and how comfortable you are with the slower responsiveness certain online applications have, it has worked fairly well for me and I encountered no major issues once I had migrated. Google Docs makes it easy to export data back into the usual office formats or even PDFs in order to exchange information with other users and have people take advantage of what I've put together. I've also gotten other friends to access my online spreadsheets and files whether via public links or email invites and thus it's pretty much worked out okay.

Thus when I assessed the personal damage the theft of my laptop presented, my first priority became changing all of my online passwords, which I regularly change every 30 days anyway. With my passwords changed and all my files online, the loss of something typically overflowing with personal information like my laptop ended up being a rather expensive annoyance that involved minimal risk on my part.

Yeah, I guess I really am convinecd of the benefits of cloud computing for users like myself. This may or may not work for you as a reason to come on "up" into the virtual cloud, but I'm sure there are others who might share similar stories. Let this one be yet another one joining the crowd.


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