Francisco Soto Ramblings about code, life and stuff.

Moving to the Cloud
Aug 19, 2012



I had two hard drives on my laptop (which is my main computer), my System drive and my Data drive. System is an SSD where I keep the OS, the applications and some other regularly used files. Data is where I kept my music, pictures and files that I don’t use regularly but I want to keep for one reason or another.

I said I had because a few days ago, Data decided to fail and started throwing I/O errors, basically it was dying really fast and I didn’t have any backup of that data (always, always backup your important data).

Fortunately, I was able to pull out my pictures and other files (about 10GB or so, I didn’t use to take many pictures), my music wasn’t that lucky though, good thing I had it all stored on an old iPod Classic so I was able to salvage it from it.

And now?

Quickly I started looking in Amazon for new replacement for said hard drive but this got me started thinking what caused this particular hard drive to fail. It was a regular spinning-plates drive, practically new since it came with my Macbook Pro originally which is from early 2011, so what was it? Moving my laptop around all over the place? Bad luck? Aliens?

I started thinking about my usage patterns for storage because truth be told, I don’t really use that much space. I don’t have games installed in this machine, I have just a few gigabytes of pictures and documents, I have no video files at all (Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Youtube do the trick) and just about 40GB of music.

My pictures are basically some new and some really old that I carry with me from machine to machine and from hard drive to hard drive because I don’t want to lose them but I really don’t see them very often, like, every year or so to reminisce, but that’s it. They have that storage cost though and more important, mental cost, I think about them when I am going to reinstall the OS, when I buy a machine, change hard drives, etc. The same applies to many documents and files that I don’t really have a use for now but I still want to keep them, they are mental baggage that I carry in my computing life.
Music is an issue all the time, but that is a different monster, I use it all the time. As a matter of fact I would love to replicate it to several other places, like my workstation at the office and sometimes my iPad.

So, after pondering on this facts for a while and talking with a couple of friends I decided to take the plunge and:

The cloud

I decided to use several cloud services to reduce my needs of static storage in my machines and reduce having to backup/move many gigabytes of data when I change machines or buy hard drives.

Based on my usage patterns, I basically use:

  • Dropbox : this service is basically a synched folder application that works incredibly well, anything you put into the folder gets automatically uploaded to their servers and automatically downloaded to every machine where you have the app running. You can check your files on their website or the mobile apps they have in almost every platform, also they have clients for Mac, Windows and Linux. Since the files I upload here also have to exist in my hard drive (hence not eliminating the need for local storage) I use this for files that I use regularly and in every machine like notes, wallpapers, certain documents, etc.
  • iTunes Match : basically all my music is now in the cloud too, in iTunes servers, for $25 a year they match my catalog with their own and if they already have my music the upload is spared (with the additional benefit that their copies are of high quality), so all in all I didn’t have to upload that much and it was really fast. I see my play list like if it existed locally although it takes just a bit longer to start playing each song since it is now streamed (and cached locally), this gives me the additional benefit that I have all my music available in my work machine (with Windows) and my iPad. I don’t have an smart-phone so I don’t have problems there yet.
  • Amazon S3 : I use Amazon S3 to store all my pictures and files that I want to keep but I don’t regularly use. Since everything is in Amazon servers, I don’t have to keep them locally thus saving myself the storage and the hassle of backups and the files are there for me to download whenever I want to. This service is incredibly cheap, I think for my particular usage it will amount to just a few cents a month, which add up, but pays for itself just by not having to think about these files anymore. When I take pictures now, I share them in Facebook with the family and friends, upload them to S3 for posterity and delete them from my local hard drive so I don’t have to worry about them anymore.
  • Github : All the code that I produce that is my own (not my employer’s) end up in Github public repositories. Awesome service.

Disk Usage

So after going through the exercise of categorizing, uploading and cleaning up my hard drive I was left with an staggering disk usage of 13GB total of my 240GB SSD hard drive.

This situation may change in the future of course, I do require lots of storage space for work for example, but since is a Windows machine when I work remotely I use Remote Dekstop saving me from a significant amount of setup in my machine.

All in all, this exercise is an step forward in my personal goal of keeping my computing life simple, enjoyable and efficient. I am not hard-drive bound anymore.

Go up.

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