Around the year 2000 external hard drives hit the market and started to be used for additional storage and even to replace tape backups in small businesses. Tape backup drives that were dependable and fast such as DLT and LTO were expensive and could add several thousand dollars to a network infrastructure for a small business. For the past few years online backup has become very popular. Solutions like Mozy and Carbonite started making backup for your data easy, dependable and affordable. In the past couple of years cloud storage services have become very popular for a variety of reasons including ease of use, sharing across devices, cost and the inevitable free storage they provide for the “starter” account level. Providers like Amazon and DropBox arrived on the scene for storage for data such as documents and multimedia files and now Apple, Google and Microsoft offer comparable services.
With all these options one of the issues facing everyone who uses a computer, smartphone, tablet and other computing devices today is the fragmentation of their documents, music, videos and other personal and business data. The reason? Competition. With so many options for cloud storage, operating systems, local storage, backup systems, music players and other things we all need and want, it’s no wonder people find themselves in a quandary with how to store and use their data. Some people have made an all-in effort by using all products made by the same vendor like Apple, Amazon, Google or Microsoft. But for some, like myself, diversity can be a good option. The problem with diversity can be the fragmentation of your data and even the decision of which service(s) to use. Gmail, especially hosted Gmail and Business Class Google Apps work well for me, but for real usage and compatibility in the industry I still find myself using Microsoft Office and storing them in my Google Drive. In the past couple years I can recall only one or two documents I’ve used to access using Google Apps. Apple’s offerings are non-existent to me after a personal battle with their technical support which resulted in three support requests closed with no response or explanation before a fourth was sent to Apple Engineering with the same result. Right now I’m using Microsoft SkyDrive, DropBox AND Google Drive. Time will tell whether I migrate to one platform and to be honest, the one thing keeping my core data with Google is the fact that I’m grandfathered into a 50-user account for free and if I give it up, I lose it forever. Otherwise, I may have already started my migration to Microsoft Office 365.
For consumers it is often easier to make a choice and go all-in with a vendor. Many of my friends and relatives have switched to all Apple products because they (a) provide the computing needs that are compatible with (b) their smartphone and/or media players and (c) there are a ton of products on the market to accessorize their key components, some made by Apple and literally thousands made by third-party companies that specialize in accessories. Others have more basic needs and they use a PC and a laptop with DropBox to share their files and some even have Google ChromeBooks which are laptops that run a special Google-branded operating system and uses nearly all features while connected online. For this class of consumers, they have everything they need and want and they are for the most part happy with their choice(s)–at least until the technology becomes outdated and they have to start upgrading. That is when they find out other components have to be replaced or they find other gear that’s better than what they have now and consumerism takes over.
The theme that is consistent with such scenarios is that options never stop changing and neither do rules and regulations for entities such as health care, education and and other outside influences. The cycle seems to always seems to result in a consistent theme–no matter now new and trendy a solution may seem, mainstays like Google, Microsoft and Apple seem to always be there to run back to when other services falter, shut down, or are consume by the bigger fish.