I want all of my data online… but it can’t happen yet 🙁

One of my computing dreams is for me to have all my data online.  No, not all my applications (though, to  some extent, that’s a neat idea, too)… but rather, all of my documents, photos, songs, chat logs, etc.

Here’s why I would love to see all my data online:

  • Safe keeping and effective backups *others can generally store backup my data more effectively than I can). 
  • Easier sharing and collaboration
  • Accessibility anywhere… home computer, laptop, friends’ homes, internet cafe, etc.
  • Efficient mashup / mix-n-match / integration potential; e.g., mailing a doc from Y! Briefcase via Y! Mail or collaborating on it via a hypothetical Y! Whiteboard.

Of course, there are certainly many concerns related to having data online instead of on one’s hard

  • Access speed
  • Longevity of storage solution (it’d be a pain to have to download, then completely re-upload all of one’s docs)
  • Security (these services’ll be much more of a target for hackers than my stupid hard drive)
  • Flexibility (difficult to edit large audio or video files without fully downloading them, etc.)
  • Accessibility and search (easy to search across my hard drive, hard to search across disparate services like Writely, Gmail, JotSpot, etc.)

So how far along am I in getting my data online, and what are some services I’m considering?

E-mail – part of the way there (discussion lists)

  • I’m already very comfortable with Gmail overall, and quite optimistic about the upcoming Yahoo! Mail (now in limited beta testing).
  • Gmail particularly rocks with discussion list e-mails… its conversation view, while not completely revolutionary, is refined to a point that is far beyond what anyone has ever offered before. Little touches… automatically collapsing items previously seen but making them available instantly via AJAX, and so on.
  • But what about lock-in? While you can POP your mail out of Gmail (and, presumably, from Y!), with tens of thousands of e-mails that’s bound to be a large undertaking.
  • At least with Gmail right now, applying any actions against a mass of e-mails is tedious at best, near impossible at worst; for example, you can’t reasonably and retroactively apply a label (tag) filter to a few thousand previously-received e-mails. You’ve gotta batch things 20 mails at a time. AAAAAAAGH! 😐 Even with the much-maligned (and generally unspeedy) Outlook, deleting, moving, refiling large numbers of e-mails is pretty straightforward.

Word documents – not yet, but very tempted!

  • I’ve already fallen in love with Writely, an online collaboration and WYSIWYG writing tool… and in fact, I’m AUTHORing this blog post in it right now.  A fabulously intuitive user interface, rock-solid basic features (thank you unobtrusive auto-save!), and much more.  Free!  Try it out 🙂 However, this service is run by a brand new, no-doubt-well-meaning but still small startup. And besides, I don’t think it’s designed to house *all* of one’s documents, but rather those you’re collaborating on others’ with.
  • I could instead use one of the many file storage services, like Streamload or box.net, each of which offer literally gigs of storage for less than $10 per month. Plus, as I’ll note later, these services also can stream music and video…

Other MS Office documents

  • Unfortunately, there aren’t any writely-style online apps for Excel, nor any OneNote online apps — the two other Office apps I use most often.
  • But other than that… again, most Office docs (and other docs) are reasonably small (at least compared to multimedia!), and so could be quickly downloaded and uploaded to edit.

Instant messaging logs and other documents

  • I tried keeping my Trillian data (lists, logs, etc.) on a remote server, but it made Trillian excrutiatingly slow :(.
  • On the other hand, it would likely be trivial to keep other documents on a remote server and access them easily via WebDAV.

Digital music and video (multimedia)

  • As noted above, I could use an online storage service like Streamload; Streamability-anywhere is nice… but if I had my music exclusively online, it’d preclude easy mixing, converting, etc. 😐 So, at least at this time, definitely not an option.

Misc application data and metadata (preferences, votes/ranking, favorites/bookmarks, etc.)

  • In some cases, I’ve found it’s possible to maintain application data remotely (via WebDAV). So far, I’ve shown that this works well with MyLifeOrganized (a fabulous task management program!), but in other cases, it’s just too slow (Microsoft OneNote). I haven’t yet tried storing my Roboform, Newzcrawler, or other app data remotely yet.
  • With regards to bookmarks, I’m a big fan of the social bookmarking service Spurl, which works in tandem with del.icio.us and narrowly edges out Furl for me. This way, no matter what browser or even computer I’m using (home, laptop, work, etc.), I always have my favorite sites at my finger tips.
  • Unfortunately, lots of metadata isn’t yet seemingly possible to separate or share apart (in real time) from applications themselves; for instance, when I rank music (star it 1-5) on my home computer’s Windows Media Player app, those ratings aren’t visible to me when I’m on my laptop.

* * *

I’m curious…

  1. Do you share my wish of eventually having all your data stored remotely?
  2. Have you tried going along this path yet, and if so, how far?
  3. What advantages / pitfalls have you seen or do you seen in the future in this context?

I look forward to seeing your comments below 🙂






10 responses to “I want all of my data online… but it can’t happen yet :(”

  1. Mike Avatar

    Given that you want to keep all of your data online, what about the social bookmarking site http://www.blinklist.com. 

    If you have the time to check it out I would love to hear your thoughts.  We just released some major upgrades yesterday.  Mike

  2. Aaron Avatar

    We share your dream!  🙂

  3. J. Avatar

    1.  Totally do, and want the semantic web along with it.  😉
    2.  Nowhere near being there.  🙁
    3.  Aside from security?  Data multiplication.  Though most people will be happy just having one copy of stuff, chances are there’s going to be a bloat of vendors and/or quintuple redundancy work in order to make sure nobody loses anything and starts raising hell.

  4. Brian O'Doherty Avatar

    In answer to your questions:
    GroupFactor technology- illustrated for example in http://www.Quiknets.com (- your web-based “Instant Network”)- allows you to store documents online, manipulate them and edit them in various ways and send them to any computer (other member or email address) via a context menu (right-click). It provides you your Private Box and your own suite of Meeting Rooms (- you set up a room in seconds, to share files, messages and chat, even new webpages, with whomever you choose, on the system) It also provides an on-board messaging system, with rich text editing, which looks like email but isn’t, but which sends messages you write online, and documents from your local system, to any other members or any email address. You can edit documents, as in some recent Ajax apps, but also do a lot more with them- almost what you can do today on Web 1.0 on the local system. It is a web-based network- very much Web 2.0 – where your files are stored and managed on the network, and communicated from there to others. It is also a “third generation” type of network, which Professor Reed of MIT spoke about. One to one or many to many communications, via various communications options, and sub-groups form naturally.
    I think it goes a long way towards meeting the ideals you describe. Also it has security. No spam or email-borne viruses. And very soon we will introduce Telecryption, which will not only provide transparently encrypted files and messages and encrypted meeting places in cyberspace, but will also provide semi-online editing of any documents (- no need to rename and reupload). And drag and drop. (In our view, security is the number one obstacle to realising the potential of Web 2.0)
    GroupFactor technology is built with dhtml, xml, javascript, com objects and other locally developed tools.

  5. pierro78 Avatar

    foldershare ( http://www.foldershare.com/ ) allows you to access your files on line and to synchronize directories on multiple PCs over the internet (not sure if that’s what you are looking for)
    it’s also connected to google desktop so you can do a search on your emails/files on your PCs from anywhere …

  6. nebur29 Avatar

    I know this is an old post, but I was wondering if you had made any progress in finding a solution to meet these needs. I’m particularly interested in getting something like OneNote online. I think the application is great, but I’m an IT guy with multiple systems (both Mac and Windows) at home and work. I’m also a part time student. I would love to be able to study a little whenever I have a free moment, but right now I’m limited to being able to get to my notes only when I’m on the system that has the app and my notebooks on it. I’ve been using 37Signals.com’s BackPack. It’s a pretty good online “junk drawer” where i can keep lists, images, files and notes. I can share certain pages out with other account holders, or with the public (i think). I can also setup reminders to be emailed to me or sent to my phone. This week they added a calendar feature too. What i miss is the clean org structure of OneNote. It feels like a folder/notebook and version 2007 looks like it will be even better. I’m gonna try my note taking on BackPack and JotSpot, but if anyone has found something better please let me know.

  7. Chen Avatar

    Hi there,
    I am look for similiar online services now. So far as I know, there is a site called ioultiner.com

    They started to build online information list using “tree-structure” like the way mylifeorganized did. However, they are just a start. I am expecting they can add rich functions later on. But that is encouraging. I think we have to give them time to build a online mylifeorganized or onenote.

  8. jason Avatar

    For IM, you can use meebo.  It’s like trillian in a browser window. 

    Also, what about google docs for word processing/spreadsheets/presentations?
    -also can be used offline with google gears.

  9. Adam Avatar

    Hey everyone (and most recently, Jason)!

    Well, I wrote this before Google Docs and Meebo.  So now, it *is* possible to keep more stuff in the cloud, and I expect it won’t be long until I can keep even more stuff in a protected central location :-D.  Neat seeing how much technology offerings have advanced in the last few years!

  10. spam name deleted Avatar
    spam name deleted

    isn’t the google online drive a good enough way of saving data on a remote server? It works for me.

What do you think?