The inconvenient truth that cloud storage is not infinite

Cloud data storage brought the feeling that we could store our information and memories endlessly and access them whenever we wanted. From this perspective, we become digital accumulators. We start saving a lot of emails, photos, and videos that we rarely look at again, with the certainty that we can find them at any time.

Our files are stored on a hard drive that can be anywhere in the world, thousands of kilometers away, and can be accessed through servers that communicate personal devices with data centers at any time. These data storage centers have a high level of   security , wherever they are.

Although technology has become accessible to many of us rather recently, the term cloud has been used since the 1970s. It was a kind of metaphor for the Internet. In a short time, it was inserted into the daily lives of all of us. It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t use services like   Google Drive ,   iCloud ,   One Drive or   Dropbox , among many others.

The question that is already afflicting some of us – and will eventually reach the others, is precisely the fact that although the cloud gives us the idea of something unlimited, the data centers are physical structures and therefore finite. Understanding that the cloud is a finite resource unable to absorb exponentially increasing amounts of information (at relatively low cost) is a shock.

And this inconvenient truth comes to many with a warning from their provider, when they are informed that they are close to reaching the storage limit in their account, either through the free or paid service. Usually, the alert comes with a fairly simple solution: start paying or pay more to increase your storage capacity. And then there is another question: as the costs are quite low, the tendency is to accept the offer and keep accumulating. But for how long?

The concept of directories, folders, and files is becoming obsolete

In the early 2000s, the storage capacity of e-mail services was on average 10 MB. When Google launched Gmail in 2004, the account offered up to a free gigabyte, one hundred times more than Yahoo and Hotmail. In a decade, the storage capacity has reached 15 gigabytes. In 2020, Google Photos saved more than 4 trillion photos, with 28 billion new photos and videos being added each week.

Without the physical limitation of photographic film and development costs, we start to record anything in images and, even when done to meet a specific need, we leave them in the cloud so that we can access them in the future if necessary. This possibility and the fact that it is cheap makes everything safe.

With the number of photos, emails and files accumulated, we prefer to avoid even thinking about having to organize or decrease this true memory deposit. Another convenience is the ease provided by efficient research resources with which we can eventually find what we need, even if they are not organized. Even the concept of directories, folders, and files is becoming obsolete.

The shock of the cloud space finitude will demand that we reflect on how we relate to and manage our data, information, and life record.