I had several terabytes of data in several external drives, now. This data relates to my research, my research papers, research data, students’ reports and data, their thesis and other proposals, analysis, and surveys that I have conducted during my consultancy assignments and other assignments. These contain my personal insights and conclusions about various issues. It is invaluable primary data for my autobiographical notes in my blogpost Learning and Life. Some relate to data from my 5 years at IBA, some data is about my 12 years at KIET, some data is about my 8 years at IoBM, and some data is about my 6 years of ePatterns company, some data is about my experience and operations of L2L. There are my memos, notes, pics, and other reports. There are also my family photos of the last 30 years, over 5000 family documents and letters; there are scans and files containing their transcription. These documents date over a hundred years to mid 19th century.
Around four years ago I decided to put this on the cloud. First, I purchased DropBox and spent hundreds of hours uploading the data from my home computer hard disk around 500GB and another 500GB external drive. Later I found out that it was not a backup but it was a synchronous backup. That is, it instantaneously brought the repository to the same status as my hard disk. Little did I know that when my drive failed, or when I moved the data to another external drive, it will also wipe out my data from the drive. That was enough of a shock to me. It should have warned me that it was wiping out hundreds of my hours of loading time. OK, that was my mistake that I did not carefully review the features and understood the fine print. But, nevertheless it helped me to understand how the cloud appears to individual users
And I said goodbye to DropBox and moved to Google Drive. This time my idea was that I would get around 2TB of space, and I will move all my data from 4 external drives as well as my computer. I thought that once the data is there I could flexibly organize the data, remove the duplicates, order the files according to creation dates/last update dates, and will rearrange the overlapping data that I have backed up over the last decade.
On Google Drive, it again took me several hundreds of hours of watching the slow upload to the cloud. As it was my personal data, I did not think that I would do it from a high-speed connection at my office. I thought I would be organizing the information at night while putting the upload on during the night. Little did I know that one has to watch the uploads continuously. Otherwise, it would simply give an error and exit. You will have to start once again from zero. There is no way to correct the error, and resume from where it stopped. This was exasperating. I thought OK, this is a one-time effort. Later I would be able to work easily from anywhere.
Little did I know that eventually when I had uploaded all my data, it had totally hidden the creation date of my files as they existed on my hard drives. The dates visible were only the upload dates. This was impossible for me to organize. The dates were crucial for my data organization process. It told me where to put it and how to organize it. For example, I have pics from my mobiles, cameras, and from other mobiles of my family members. How do organize them if they all have the same upload date?
The other problem was searching for particular information. It was again impossible. The search is designed by Google for what it wants to show you. It is not designed for you to organize the data into categories, and folders hierarchically and chronologically. Google doesn’t want you to organize your information your way. It wants to organize the information as it deems fit. It was impossible to copy a large number of files from one folder to another. It was painfully slow and also very inconvenient to move around. The view simply would refresh to the top, forcing you to scroll down to where you were working. It is impossible to work in which Drive folders if there are a couple of hundred or more files in your folders and you want to merge, organize, collate, move, copy, or remove multiple copies. Work that you can complete and do in a few hours on your hard drive will take you forever on google drive.
Getting the data downloaded from Google cloud was an experience that taught me that google is saying, hay! guy you don’t own the data. I own the data. I will tell you how you can download it. It has made the process so difficult that I would rather do the reorganization again from my external drives rather than download the data from Google.
I have come to the conclusion that it is better to use an open source repository of the type used by museums and libraries that are designed to keep the data for a long long time. You can’t rely on these for-profit, fly-by-night operations that can change the algorithm at any time, and remove permissions from your data assets as and when they want. They may be good for a few years for storing information through high-speed networks. But, they are not for the data that you own. Irrespective of what they claim, they only have to make it tediously slow certain features to make you wrench your hair in distress. They simply tell you who is the boss. This is the same way the data that you store on google Blogspot and Facebook is not yours. You are not entitled to access your data and tweak it the way you want it to be shown. Yes, you can do it if you have expensive programmers. But, they make sure that you can’t use this option because they keep on changing the APIs and their permissions. There are always a step ahead of you.
Don’t believe what they say. It is colonization of your personal space.