The concept of files has been around for quite some time. I just tried to find out how old the idea was but did not find a date. Instead, I found a very exciting entry at Wikipedia about file folders. If you feel you need to know more about how many different kinds of file folders there are, I encourage you to visit.
What I really want to write about is how we store information. The original IBM PC stored its information on a floppy disk with essentially one “folder”. In this folder, each item, called a file, had a name. This name was restricted to a naming scheme devised to give some meaning without using too much space. For most of you, that means being stored in FAT format. The reason I’m going down memory lane about the IBM PC is that this initial machine set the tone for all future work done on its descendants. Through the years, a number of features have been added to this model but basically it was all derived to be compatible with the existing machines.
You can have your folders be on a network share. You can have your folders follow you around based on your profile. You can have your folders even potentially be coming from the Internet. Your files and folders are always going to need to be somewhere so you might as well accept the need to expand what folders can do.
Here is where it gets a bit more interesting. It is great to be able to have folders that go with you. The user profile folders is a good idea but it really does not address the need to be able to take all your folders with you. Okay, I’ll admit that I’m not a portable file folder expert. I will also admit that I see most people get really lost when it comes to keeping track of their data on the go.
Most people accept the drudgery of taking laptops with them to make sure their data is there right next to them. Anyone that travels can see the frustration of having to go through security with these heavy annoying limited devices. I can attest to this level of frustration with having two hard drives fail over the period of a few months even though I treated the machine like it was made of china. The only idea of how it failed came from how it would get bumped around on the conveyor belt at the security checkpoint. Devoid of its usual protective casing, it would bounce around like a bit of butter on a hot pan. Well, that was a bit dramatic but I swear I saw it jump a number of times when going over joins in the metal cylinder conveyor belt (why does it need to be metal on one side and smooth fabric on the other?).
The point is that it can be a hassle to take your data with you. But what other option is there?
Don’t carry the data with you! Or, if you do, only take the storage device (disk or USB stick).
Because the future of data storage is coming and it is coming fast. People like Amazon (and most likely Google) are waking up to the possibility of cheap online storage. This model blows away what can be done by most companies, even the really big ones. Even more amazing, anyone can use it. So, what this means that instead of carrying my folders around with me or forgoing their use, I can actually access them anywhere the Internet without having to setup anything special in my company or personal web server. Now, I can hear some of you saying this would not make sense. What about security? What about the programs to interact with this storage mechanism?
Ah, well, that is annoying isn’t it?
So, I predict that someone will understand this model and invest heavily in providing a cheap easy way to secure the information on the web using the standard folder model that already exists on the systems. In this way, it would be possible to mount drives on local systems from the remote online storage.
It gets better. Given that you can allocate a large amount of storage on the web that is managed (backed up and always available) you could actually capture that state of your workstation (in a virtual way) and let this image be your hub for zooming around the world. Imagine how much happier your travelers would be if they didn’t have to take around those damn laptops.
So, if any of you feel the need to create such a solution (or are aware of an existing solution) please let me know. I’d love to hear the progress report of such a venture and if I like it, I would even use it.