The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Bitcasa – my 2 year journey to personal hard drive elimination

I am guessing few will know about Bitcasa.  And to be clear this is not an advert from me.  This is about my experience and thoughts on a concept that is critical to us all (imho) and that remains unique which is why it took me two years.

First off I have made the leap to fully eliminate use of my hard drive as a medium to store things and now I use Bitcasa.  That might explain why it took a while and here follows how I got there and what I was thinking along the way. And yes there are implications for banks but that’s less important right now.  As you read my ramblings, think cloud, and future storage of your archival of your photos, just to personalise.

Bitcasa works just like a folder on your computer, but is not limited by the size of your hard drive.  Ideas like Google Drive, Dropbox and Skydrive are intermediate steps and destined to fail as a model.  They are limited by the size of your hard drive due to concept of mirroring, without geeky modifications and are fundamentally predicated on personally owned hard drives as the centre of the computing universe.

A New Concept:

First off let me come clean and admit I am a huge Amazon fan.  Books are a side note in this fan-ship.  They have built out an infrastructure that I have watched and used now for 7 years.  It happens to fall in the definition of “cloud” but as with computers in general I am more concerned with the utility as a tool, and answering the question of whether it is it making my life better.  This happens to be where I differ from the silicon valley ‘shiny new thing’ addiction.

I watch for new things and Bitcasa showed up when it appeared in 2011 and a geeky friend told me about it. Robert Scoble wrote about it.    I watched and joined in early 2012.  Basically between then and now I can paraphrase by saying I tried it, tested it, thought about it and here I am.

Bitcasa uses Amazon as its storage medium.  Bitcasa now has 30 petabytes stored there and that has grown from 5 Pb earlier this year.  They recently attracted decent funding too.  So they passed the first test of whether they will be around for a bit, at least for me.

The new concept with Bitcasa is that they replace my hard drive.  I save files to Bitcasa and I can access those files from my iPhone or my work computer.  This exemplifies living in the cloud. It eliminates the concept of having to drag your laptop everywhere.

The new concept that Bitcasa brings to the table also breaks down the concept of hard drive back up.  Carbonite does a great job of suggesting that the hard drive failure is a worry you no longer have to be concerned about.  Their name and their advertising message is very well done.  But the question I ask is …  why do we have to be concerned about hard drives?  (And btw the Carbonite model really sucks in how it treats folder and file changes but I am not going there.)

Paper, PC, Laptop, Tablet, cloud:

There is a natural evolution taking place before our very eyes. It is an evolution in mid stream and it raises more questions than answers.  The short term issue is directly related to the promise that tablets and smart phones have generated.  When I was a Blackberry user I didn’t care about what was on my hard drive because the Blackberry couldn’t do anything with it. 

My iPhone on the other hand changed everything.  I have this mini computer in my hand and things as simple as wanting my resume right now,  a file with my credit card number, a spreadsheet I wanted to give to a colleague … the old adage of “I will send when I am back at my computer” was becoming annoying.  The cloud and iPhone made me want much more. 

The advent of the cloud was occurring in parallel and I have no idea which came first but they are symbiotic siblings.  Each supports the other.  Now it is required that we can see, use and share everything.

Its worth noting here that living 100% in FaceBook is not the cloud answer either.  Everyone has documents, photos or files that they want to selectively store and share.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

I can see this post good get philosophical so lets get back to Bitcasa for now, and why they are a game changer.

The idea of backup intrinsically implies that your life must revolve around your hard drive.  The idea of the “cloud” implies that your life must revolve around the internet.

Which concept will win out?  I am betting in 2113 that argument will be long over. 

I was watching for the umpteenth time ‘2102: Collapse’ the Jared Diamond documentary recently.  He made the point that the Mayan civilisation left a legacy of written history that allowed us to understand what happened.  He made the contrast of 2010 civilisation that left a garbage pile of hard drives using unreadable software, and unusable hardware.

In similar contrast I would add there was the library of Alexandria that was destroyed in 391 AD.  What knowledge was lost then.

I am not for a moment suggesting that the information on my hard drive or yours is comparable in importance but someone’s is.  The point is that the information we gather today whether you are a don at Oxford or a blogger in Toronto has no way to be assured of visibility in the year 2300.  The idea of the cloud gets us closer.

On a more immediate note, while I do not have to worry about the year 2300 I do worry about tomorrow and Bitcasa provides me confidence that no matter which computer, smartphone or tablet I pick up tomorrow that I will be able to look at my docs and pictures.

I wish them well, and am curious about your thoughts on this.

Written by Colin Henderson

August 18, 2013 at 17:40

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. What are the security issues for financial and legal information, key database info, etc and how do address them with bitcasa?

    Jim Smyth

    August 18, 2013 at 18:39

    • I can only provide context for my thinking and how I got there.

      Here is their description of security.

      https://www.bitcasa.com/legal then click security.

      I trust the comments here because of my research on Amazon. The servers that store Bitcasa information are Amazons. They have built an international set of data centres with serious back up and redundancy.

      http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/#highlights

      Finally, and this is key. What is more reliable .. the hard drive in your computer or the multiple back up instances of your data sitting in Bitcasa/ Amazon. The least reliable device in that equation is your own hard drive because it is a single point of failure.

      Anyhow, just some of my thoughts.

      Colin Henderson

      August 19, 2013 at 21:35

    • Thanks, Colin. Liked what I saw. Do you backup to a personal hard drive just for comfort?

      Jim Smyth

      August 20, 2013 at 07:29

  2. @Jim,
    No I don’t keep anywhere except on Bitcasa. This stems from my confidence in Bitcasa and particularly Amazon having used the latter for 7 years with never an issue.

    Colin Henderson

    August 20, 2013 at 18:34

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