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The Cloud, Day 28: My Five Biggest Cloud Complaints

I've found a lot to like about the cloud during my 30 Days experience, but these five things stand out as my biggest issues or concerns.

30 Days With the Cloud: Day 28

It's Day 28 of the 30 Days With the Cloud series. As with previous "30 Days" series, this day is dedicated to recapping the five biggest issues or problems I encountered during the 30 Days journey.

So, without further ado, here are my five biggest cloud complaints:

1. Sometimes It's Not 'Cloudy'

The cloud has tons of great tools and services to address virtually any need, which is great...as long as you can connect to the cloud. Living in a large metropolitan area it seems like strong wireless carrier signals, and Wi-Fi hotspots are fairly ubiquitous. But, the unthinkable still happens sometimes, and you just can't connect to the Internet. The more rural or remote you are, the greater the odds and frequency will be.

I like the cloud when it's available, but I don't like being at the mercy of the cloud being available. When I'm flying at 30,000 feet, I still want to play my music, view my photos, and type my next article--and on most flights that won't be possible if I rely on the cloud.

2. Upload Speeds

Broadband providers have drastically increased download speeds in recent years. That's great for things like streaming movies or music from the Web, but it doesn't help you get your movies and music uploaded to the cloud in the first place.

The upload speed on most broadband connection is a fraction of the download speed. My broadband in my house gets about 30Mbps downloading, but only uploads at about 5Mbps. The Internet is rapidly evolving from a one-way pipe to a two-way road, and we need upload speeds to be more on par with the download speeds to make cloud services more practical.

3. Still Need a 'Plan B'

I've been preaching the cloud for years...as a Plan B. I put data in the cloud so that if something happens to my PC I can still get to it. I upload photos and music so I have a backup copy stored safely on the Web in case my house and all of my data burn to the ground.

Cloud-based tools and services have developed to the point that they can take on the primary role. However, servers crash and websites get hacked. I don't trust any third-party so much that I'm willing to allow them to store the only copy of my family photos. So, even if I use a cloud-based service as my main photo storage and sharing solution, I am still going to have a second cloud-based service, or local copy as a backup just in case.

4. Sad Productivity Suites

I'm a writer, so the word processor is arguably the most important tool on the whole computer from my perspective. I took a look at three different cloud-based productivity suites and ended up liking Google Docs the best overall for this series. But, the truth is I don't really prefer any of them.

All of the suites are capable enough on some level. They have the obligatory word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. They all offer some degree of compatibility with the dominant Microsoft Office file formats. Any of them would work if there was no other option, but none of them provides the comprehensive feature set, or provides anything near the experience I get using Microsoft Office installed locally on my PC.

5. Painted Into a Corner

The way things are going right now it seems like everyone is trying to lock you in. If you have an Android smartphone, it makes sense that you would rely on Google cloud services due to the built in tools and high level of integration with Android. If you are already using Microsoft Office 365, or storing your files in Microsoft's SkyDrive, it would be logical to choose a Windows Phone smartphone for the same reason.

There are cross platform services, and third-party providers who are more or less platform agnostic. But, as it stands now your choice for one aspect of your digital life has a tremendous influence on how you choose the other elements, and once you embrace certain tools you start down a path that's difficult to change. The more services you choose, and the more invested you are, the harder it is to switch later.

There you have it. I wouldn't say any of them are complete deal breakers. They're more like caveats and warnings you should be aware of if you are going to try and rely strictly on cloud services.

Tune in tomorrow for the other side of this coin--the five things I like the most about the cloud.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 27: All the Rest of the Cloud


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