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Local or Cloud Storage: Which Is Better for Your Mobile Life?



Yesterday I posted a review of  iPerform, a very comprehensive database and organization tool for actors. Intriguingly in the two comments to the post so far, there’s an interesting issue raised that I think is an important one. One responder commented on a different product of the same ilk that he prefers. That product, PerformerTrack, is  a web or Cloud service. Another commented that he had tried both but preferred iPerform’s ability to store his data locally on his device. Here’s a quote:

Just the other day I walked into a building for an audition and had no connectivity on my phone. If I had tried to access some website it wouldn’t have worked. And that would have been true whether I was using my iPhone or an iPad. But since, with iPerform, I actually have the data right in the app I was able to look up my audition info and because I imported the casting director information I was good to go! I never have to worry about connectivity issues.

I’m not pointing this out to weigh one product over the other, but to highlight the issue of local versus cloud storage for important data. There are many, many services that rely on the Cloud for storage and your access to your data. There’s nothing wrong with that and many of these services do the job quite well. At least until you can’t get a connection. Having data stored locally removes that potential roadblock. I know in my usage of some of these services I have to remind myself to occasionally save or make a document I might need at a meeting or rehearsal a favorite in the various apps I use to make sure I have access if I don’t have a good connection. In our theatre sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t have good 3G connectivity (there’s no WiFI in the theatre space proper) and there’s nothing more frustrating than reaching for info and not being able to get it quickly.

This is probably an issue that depends on your connectivity as much as anything else. But I’m curious as to what our readers prefer or what their experiences have been. Let us know in the comments. How do you prefer your data served on your mobile device, locally or from the cloud? If you use the cloud primarily do you run into connectivity issues and how does that affect your work/play? If locally, how does that affect your device decisions?



  1. Jonathan Cohen

    08/25/2010 at 9:09 am

    I prefer it synced to the cloud in the form of Dropbox. When it comes to email, I’m fine having it in Gmail because I can live without it temporarily…but I need access to my work files.

    Dropbox seems to be the ideal answer; local copies on my PCs that get updated when the PCs connect to the Internet. The only thing I’ve noticed is that using Wifi on my laptop will often create duplicate/conflicted copies.

    • Roger J

      08/26/2010 at 3:50 am

      Jonathan, agree 110$, DBX is great for using it the way you describe.

      I’ve now added my Toshiba MB305 netbook for those critical data and work files are available on both my devices, the other is a Toshiba Portege M700 uk, 2008 model upgraded to W7 Ultimate.

      I upgraded my NB305 RAM to run W7 Professional, good enough for me working in longe, coffee bar or cattle class meal tray airborne.

  2. Chris Hickie

    08/25/2010 at 9:11 am

    Droid phone: nice to have contacts and calendar local but synched to cloud so it can be accessed and changed from any computer with an internet connection such as desktop or tablet. The shared calendars makes call schedules easy to maintain and update. But I still have an uneasiness about putting anything more sensitive out in the cloud no matter how secure I am told it is.

    My electronic medical records system: some people will use a cloud/ASP program, but as you pointed out, Warner, if you’re in the middle of work and your cloud data isn’t available, you are dead in the water. Thus I use an EMR with local storage and implement a rigorous backup plan. And I think a lot of healthcare providers don’t like the idea of patient data (even with the vendors all having to by HIPAA certified) out in the cloud. I know many patients don’t like that thought.

  3. Joshua jones

    08/25/2010 at 9:15 am

    Well a hybrid approach is always best. Like Evernote does. All my data is completely stored in their servers. But a full copy if I want is on my iPhone 4, my iPad 3G +WiFi, my MacBook Pro, and my Mac Pro. So if I’m on the fiber at work, the cable at home, or 3G/WiFi mobily I have access to all data stored on the cloud and if the net connection is Down I still have a full copy on any device I use. Best of both worlds. With local only the odds of data loss are much higher plus multiple devices aren’t synced wirelessly with out a web service to back it up. OmniFocus is also hybrid but weighted on me. I supply the backend server for syncing. But the issue with Omnifocus (don’t get me wrong I love omnifocus) is that there’s no web client for emergency access from a device I don’t own.

    Just me $0.02

  4. Joe

    08/25/2010 at 11:20 am

    Looks like I’m in agreement with everyone so far, both cloud and local is best. We use Google Docs for our corporate data combined with Memeo Connect for iOS and PC, and GDocs for Android to make sure everything is accessible all the time.

  5. Xavier Lanier

    08/25/2010 at 11:29 am

    I’m in the combo camp as well.

  6. Steve

    08/26/2010 at 3:16 am

    Well, I use for regular work docs and for the important stuff.

    • Roger J

      08/26/2010 at 3:53 am

      Steve, same here, just wish I could include Outlook 2010 in the activity, no Exchange for me as a one-man operator working in development/transition regions around the globe.

  7. GTaylor

    08/26/2010 at 6:46 am

    “It was the best of times, It was the worst of times…”
    That quote was penned to point out a particular universal truth. There are times of great change for individuals as well as for larger components of society. None of us can say what these changes are for the larger society or what those unknown changes mean for us personally. Just one point of concern is that some big corporations are able to act as governments.

    Physically, many systems and software need to be connected and functioning for cloud storage to be dependable. More than any of us here can count, I suspect. Yes, they are almost always working. On the few occasions when we have noticed them not working it was no big deal. Of course the chance of critical need and lack of availability over lapping are so small….

    Security is the other lightly treated concern here. And for several good reasons. Most of us are simply not doing anything significant enough for anyone to want to snoop into in the first place. Secondly, most of the information that is valuable to powerful groups is statistical and demographic in nature. Each one of us is so small a part of that that there is little that we can do about it past resisting trends and cliches.
    But with individual businesses archiving unspeakable {literally) amounts of personal information on individual people, while promising to do nothing bad with it, and other businesses not generally identifying themselves as being in the personal information collecting and storing business and so promising nothing, and many street level businesses desperately wanting exactly that personally connected information, the reasonable person should want to know; under what circumstances would some company or agency’s desire to get into my personal business and my desire to put my personal business out for public access (encrypted, of course! Boy, I’m glad that I have done advanced studies in encryption techniques!) coincide? Yes, that last sentence may be hard to read, but it is much simpler than weeding through the issue of how to store personal information in the cloud safely.

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