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Innovation

Cloud storage: Impossible to fill?

Cloud storage services like SkyDrive or even Gmail in principle offer more space than we could fill, literally. Why offer so much at little or no cost?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor on

There are vast numbers of online storage solutions, services and products at the moment. More often than not they're free, being paid for through advertisements, and most offer a number of gigabytes; some into double figures.

But taking a look at a random selection, some including email services like Gmail and Hotmail (which offer very much the same thing in a different format), are they giving us too much storage? Are the cloud storage providers giving us infinite capacity?

cloud-storage-infinate.png

Side note: semantics and technicality could shoot me in the foot here. When I mean "infinite", I do not mean a never ending supply of data storage, rather the storage we currently have in the cloud will never be filled by us as individuals.

Take SkyDrive as a perfect example. Even though you have 25GB at your disposal, you can only upload 50MB at a time. There seems no logical reasoning to this, with the possible exception of not being able to abuse the storage for uploading of illegally downloadable films and videos. However, this restricts you somewhat.

skydrive-infinite-zaw2.png

If it were to be fully open, you could literally drag and drop an entire system image into your cloud and take it anywhere with you. Then again, you can create a restore image and use WinRAR or HJSplit to cut them into tiny 50MB sized pieces and upload manually.

I don't think every user truly has 25GB space, though. It would make logical sense for the "drive" you have to be a dynamically expanding (virtual) hard drive. If every user used their 25GB today, the datacenters would be overfilled by tenfold no doubt.

The point is, as most online cloud services offer these vast storage quantities, you are restricted in how much you can upload in one go; this makes it ideal for documents and music files, but not for massive files like movies and large videos.

The same applies to Gmail, of which emailing something to yourself acts as pretty much the same concept. The 25MB limit is purely coincidental, but limits the user once again.

Using this time calculator, my own connection, a stopwatch on my phone and a bit of graphics editing, I've concluded to fill up a 25GB drive such as SkyDrive, it would take you:

uploading-times-25gb-zaw2.png

... and that's continually, without sleep, walking the dog or even going for a pee. Although, I guess maybe you could pee during the upload, but you get my point.

Still, you could always bypass the whole system and map your cloud storage to your other local computer and drag and drop that way.

Has cloud storage become unfillable?

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