Where Is It?
Today your content probably exists all over the place. Most, if not all, of it is located either on a computer or storage device in your home or office or on a server somewhere that is connected to the Internet. In computing, we refer to storage on your computer or device as local storage and storage on Internet servers as cloud storage. Over the past several years, especially since the emergence of tools like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube, more and more content is stored in the cloud. Let’s use your photos as an example.
Until ten or fifteen years ago, a photograph was a physical product that was either developed at a lab or instant, like a Polaroid. If you wanted to store your photographs, you probably put them in a box or photo album in your home. When digital cameras emerged, suddenly we could have a digital photo instantly. The product was digital and had to be stored in a digital medium. Of course, you probably printed some digital photographs, but I bet you have many, many more stored on your computer than printed.
But we’re not just keeping these photos locally on our computers; we’re placing them on the Web for others to view. Websites like Flickr and Picasa specialize in helping us do just that. Now we even have smartphones that allow us to shoot and share a photo in seconds.
We’re pushing content into the cloud and in effect scattering our photos across numerous computers on the Internet. While this may be more difficult to manage, the ability to access them from anywhere and easily share them with others is quite desirable.
This shift to cloud storage is significant and one of the primary reasons we wrote this book. One of many issues with preserving your digital content is that much of it does not reside on a computer over which you have direct control. Increasingly individuals are relying on websites to store their content, and that can cause numerous problems if the service goes out of business or the password is lost. We’ll talk more about these challenges in Chapter 5, The Value of Digital Things, and in the second half of this book we will help you overcome them.