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Cloud Data Storage

Dropbox Wants To Replace Your Hard Disk 445

Barence writes "Dropbox has kicked off its first developer conference with the stated goal of replacing the hard disk. 'We are replacing the hard drive,' said Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. 'I don't mean that you're going to unscrew your MacBook and find a Dropbox inside, but the spiritual successor to the hard drive is what we're launching.' The new Dropbox Platform includes tools for developers that will allow them to use Dropbox to sync app data between devices. The company's new APIs will also make it easier for app developers to include plugins that save to Dropbox, or choose files stored in the service for use within apps."
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Dropbox Wants To Replace Your Hard Disk

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  • Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:01PM (#44246161)

    Dropbox Wants To Forward All Your Info To The NSA


  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:02PM (#44246167)

    I don't trust you with my data.
    I don't trust your security.
    I don't trust your longevity.
    I don't trust that you at some point in the future won't hold my data hostage.
    I don't trust you to keep my data away from big brother.

    I also don't trust my ISP!

    FINALLY, I don't want to wait all day for a file to load.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:02PM (#44246173)

    ... and I approve this message.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:06PM (#44246201)

    You're based in the US. You know that we have crap for bandwidth, our ISPs fight over backbone peering, we get charged by the gigabyte, and finally government agencies love to peek at data that isn't in a person's physical possession.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:06PM (#44246205)

    1. Privacy (from several categories of snoopers: government, businesses, hackers)
    2. Latency
    3. Cost, billing hassles
    4. Availability (freedom from outages that seem to contradict the HA guarantees these providers spout out)
    5. What if they fuck up and lose your data

  • by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:13PM (#44246255)

    That's easy. For your convenience they will store the decryption key for you.

  • Re:Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:13PM (#44246259)

    From the linked article

    Datastores work offline, too

    With datastores, your app works great even without an Internet connection. When a user goes offline, your app can continue to work with all its data locally. The next time the user is online, Dropbox will take care of syncing things up.

    So, let me get this straight... If you already have a local copy of your work... then you can work on it when the connection goes down. Hmmm.... What magical device is storing all of that data if you don't have a hard drive...

    Is everything in your dropbox folder supposed to be kept in ram on your device???

    Syncing has some merit.... Replacing the local storage is idiotic. Any company that would propose anything so stupid CAN'T be seen as a credible player!

    Sounds like they need to be drop-kicked.

  • Mod parent up! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chas ( 5144 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:16PM (#44246283) Homepage Journal

    This post sums up my feelings about it as well.

  • Wrong direction. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silentknyght ( 1042778 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:17PM (#44246293)

    No, dropbox is going in the wrong direction. The direction is going to be smaller, faster, portable HDDs. Thumbdrives are already common at 64gb, and SSDs at 256gb. People already carry around a lot of data on their phones and, more to the point, they already carry around a device as large as a phone. Current gen SSDs are about that big. It won't be much to get people to either carry around a second, similarly sized device, or for the technology to just adapt to allow your phone to store terabytes.

    Those are already happening; when finally mature, why would you use the cloud? With increasing proliferation of per-byte charges for data, and with the ENORMOUS gulf in access speeds between SATA and the most common internet plans--a gulf that's unlikely to shrink for years, perhaps decades, as both technologies make their own, separate, speed advancements--people aren't going to spend more money for slower access to their own data that they don't even control.

  • by sdinfoserv ( 1793266 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:19PM (#44246307) Homepage
    As someone who has been responsible for medium sized infrastructures – © 500 desktops - , as well as enterprise wide security, I will say I explicitly deny dropbox for all users. It’s a huge security hole. Without the ability to control, monitor, secure and most importantly log, it will never make it in the corporate environment.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:20PM (#44246315) Journal
    It's not DRM. He's listing a bunch of things that seem harmless, but in turn can hurt you a lot.

    Hosting all your data on a remote server, owned by someone who is getting compensation from someone other than you, is not a plan for happiness.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:21PM (#44246321) Journal

    Anyone with half a clue will steer clear of any cloud file storage.

    So you're saying this will be really popular?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:25PM (#44246333)

    "I figured it was mostly because I hadn't done anything that got anyone annoyed enough to actually care"

    Yeh live the bland life, upset no-one, do nothing of note, don't have anything somebody could want, don't marry any woman someone else could covert. It's a solution to living in a surveillance state. Also make sure your family and friends and kids and loved ones to the same, pesky metadata linkage.

    DropBox was specifically mentioned in the PRISM document, so go out and specifically use it, putting only grey photos of cats on it.

    Because this country isn't worth fighting for.

  • by sstamps ( 39313 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:25PM (#44246337) Homepage

    "Replace your hard drive" my ass.

    Seriously, who writes this shite?

  • by Geek Hillbilly ( 2975053 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:29PM (#44246355) Homepage
    Amen to that.I do not trust cloud storage at all.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:38PM (#44246405)

    I agree with everything you said... But in this instance there's a more fundamental issue.

    I'm NOT going to pay DropBox hundreds of dollars a year just for the privilege of replacing my hard drive.

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:40PM (#44246425) Homepage

    So...you want to make it easy for them?

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @10:53PM (#44246505) Homepage

    The complexity of sending a team of people to covertly copy the encrypted HDD and then install a keylogger to intercept your passphrase (or, even worse, your key or an exchange with a dedicated crypto device) is not comparable with just calling a CEO of Droppants and ordering him to deliver the data, on his storage, by the door of your office tomorrow.

    There is a well known xkcd [xkcd.com], of course, on that subject. However one can easily store a key on a remote server, and arrange for a cron job to delete that key if you failed to log in for a while. It would be a plausible explanation why the $5 wrench is not delivering the expected results. Not all the data that we store is precious and irrecoverable; most of it is just handy to have locally, but if need be you know where to get a copy. The simplest variation of this method is to get a couple friends in foreign countries, and give them parts of the key with instructions to not reveal them if you are in trouble. They cannot be forced to do anything, even if their identities are known (a big if.)

    Anyone who uses cloud services in the society of total surveillance is not valuing confidentiality of his data. In other words, they can only intercept data that they don't need to intercept.

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:12PM (#44246611)

    Anyone who uses cloud services in the society of total surveillance is not valuing confidentiality of his data

    I read 1984 when I was in high school. that was in the 70's.

    I wonder how they present the book and teach to it, at school, these days? or even, do they?

    is surveillance like time, in that it moves only in the forward direction? can we ever admit that we crossed a line and are going back to how things used to be, privacy-wise?

  • by asmkm22 ( 1902712 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:16PM (#44246633)

    No, but it's a good plan for convenience and possibly backups as long as you aren't stashing your bank records and private info unencrypted in the cloud without a second thought.

    Not all things 'cloud' are bad.

  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:25PM (#44246693) Homepage Journal

    Everybody has been saying this for years, but even though it has been theoretically possible for decades, it hasn't happened, and for good reason. Two good reasons, as a matter of fact: security and cost.

    Security: The reality is that such a computing world could never have any real security to speak of. If you do not have physical control of the device, you cannot know whether that web page it is showing is actually the login page for your email provider or a false front that logs into your email provider with your credentials, passes the data through to the screen, and waits for you to walk away so it can forward the contents of your inbox to Croatia. At a fundamental level, such systems cannot be secure for precisely the same reason that Internet cafes cannot be secure, for the precise reason that no software can ever truly make a virus-compromised computer secure (unless that software is in the form of boot media, and perhaps not even then), etc.

    Cost: It is much cheaper to give everyone a laptop than to put a tablet everywhere someone might want to use one, even within someone's own home. Explode that cost by orders of magnitude to cover cars and buses, walls of businesses, street corner walk signs.... You get the picture.

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:42PM (#44246787) Journal

    No, but it's a good plan for convenience and possibly backups as long as you aren't stashing your bank records and private info unencrypted in the cloud without a second thought.

    You might have a second thought when you travel to mainland China and find you can't access Dropbox.

  • by gman003 ( 1693318 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:43PM (#44246789)

    Hard drives are currently the greatest bottleneck in 95% of systems. Why do you think "get an SSD" is the new "add more RAM"?

    A good hard drive will have average latency around the 5ms range, and throughput around 200MiB/s (in actual usage, not benchmarks). Cheaper ones will be closer to 10-15ms latency and 100MiB/s throughput.

    I just tried pinging dropbox.com - 98ms latency, round-trip. And my bandwidth peaks around 400KiB/s, orders of magnitude below even a slow hard drive. And that's for download! Upload, you're looking at maybe 100KiB/s. I've gotten faster transfers over USB (and not that fancy new USB 3.0).

    You may be saying that "users don't need that much speed for most stuff - give them an SSD for OS+Apps, and everything else goes in THE CLOUD".

    Perhaps you're right. Perhaps many users could be satisfied with such an arrangement. But until Flash is nearly as cheap per gigabyte as spinning rust, there will remain plenty of tasks that need more capacity than a (reasonably-priced) SSD can provide, but more speed than a cloud solution can physically provide.

    The latency is the biggest killer. For sequential access, a high-end hard drive can keep up with common SSDs - from the slowest HDD to the fastest SSD is perhaps an order of magnitude, probably less. But the latency is the killer - it's easily two orders of magnitude between discs and flash, and even more on the high end. You can easily feel that - I stuffed an SSD into a half-decade-old workstation, and it went from sluggish and unresponsive to smooth and lightning-fast (and that with a slow SSD and 3gbps SATA). My laptop boots in seconds, and is the snappiest computer I've ever used.

    Cloud storage, just by physics, are another order of magnitude below local hard drives, just because of speed-of-light. As I mentioned, I get 100ms ping times to dropbox. And that's just for pings - if they actually have to pull my data up, you're adding the same latency as disk (because seriously, are they going to use Flash?). I don't even want to think about how slow that's going to feel.

    A blog I once read provided a useful metaphor. Imagine a read from RAM takes one day (this was high-latency/high-bandwidth GDDR5; DDR3 latencies would be around 3 hours or so). Depending on your processor, you'd be executing instructions in the scale of minutes. Accessing a hard drive takes around fifty years. Reading from the cloud would take nearly six centuries.

    *That* is how slow the cloud is. And that's why I use it, at most, for backups, or for running cloud servers - NOT as a replacement for local storage.

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:52PM (#44246831) Homepage

    is surveillance like time, in that it moves only in the forward direction?

    Yes, because the more you have it the more you need it to keep your gains. This applies to all kinds of oppression, official or not. Militarization of the police is just one example. It would be pretty hard to find someone who came in as a bloody dictator but left as a democrat and humanist of Gandhi's caliber. The rule of thumb that violence begets violence [wikipedia.org] is a very good initial guess.

    can we ever admit that we crossed a line and are going back to how things used to be, privacy-wise?

    No, it is not possible because people who are in charge of the message don't want you to hear that message. But even if MSM weren't under such iron rule, people still get old and die, and nobody remembers Sheriff Andy Taylor anymore. The new generation only knows those LEOs that are contemporary, and everything else is dismissed as "old folks' stuff." Those LEOs shoot your dog and taser you, and the justice system will imprison you forever for "resisting arrest" if you do not bow quickly enough [youtube.com]. The older people get their blood pressure elevated, but nobody cares. Schools, with their "zero tolerance," are even more oppressive - they can dispense punishments for "crimes" that are not in the Penal Code; why to bother, they write their own laws, they are the masters of children's Universe! Can you imagine that an adult would be searched by her garden variety employer because someone said she has Aspirin in her underpants? This way the new generation had been conditioned for obedience. And you are asking why they don't question the reality? Hell, they are trying to survive in it. They are not asking for tar, feathers and a few sturdy rails just because they have never seen anything else. You can bet they won't see anything else either, unless it's even worse.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 10, 2013 @11:56PM (#44246857)
    No it isn't. I can buy a 3TB hard drive that will last for at least the next five years for like $100. Dropbox charges $10/month for only 100GB of space, which works out to 1/30th the space at $600 for five years. With a hard drive, I always have access to my data, even if my internet connection goes out or I am in a location without a connection.
  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:18AM (#44246979) Homepage

    Slashdot is a technology crowd in a "post-technology" world (in that "technology" is increasingly no more than another word for "household appliance"). People here are all about RAID, hot swap, offline backups, rsync, blah, blah, blah. Give me a break. This is precisely why tablets are so successful—they are zero administration devices for the average person that doesn't want to root/configure in the first place.

    The average person absolutely STRUGGLES to:

    (1) Back up their data
    (2) Access it anywhere
    (3) Simply copy a file
    (4) Share any non-Facebook file format with their friends

    Dropbox does all of these things in a point/click way.

    People here are talking SANs and SSDs. Seriously? Momma don't do dat. And her hard drive ("computer") has "crashed" more than once by now, 20-30 years after the dawn of the computing age, and she lost her prized photos and recipes. And Slashdotters dutifully told her to "back her data up, then." Which she didn't do because (a) she doesn't know how, no matter how many times you explain it or tell her to go get a Costco USB drive, and (b) she doesn't want to spend time on or think about that even once, much less once a week.

    Services like Dropbox are going to own the data storage market.

    People above seem to be predicting that hard drives of some new sort are the wave of the future—everything old is new again. I'll boldly predict the opposite: Dropbox is right. In five years, the average person will own zero large hard drives. Their devices (tablets, netbooks) will have enough local storage to boot an OS. Everything else will be in the SaaS (software as a service, storage as a service) space.

    Mark it down and come after me if it doesn't happen.

  • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:18AM (#44246983)

    The parent post was modded by a bunch of clueless, ignorant idiots.

    Dropbox's service works by syncing your filesystem (rooted at your locally configured dropbox directory) across all devices registered to the same Dropbox user. Your data isn't held hostage at all since you now have as many backups as you have devices in your control. There just happens to also be a copy on Dropbox's servers. This is a good thing! It means you can easily share files to others or access from a non-registered device if you need to. It's also a convenient backup, in case something goes horribly wrong. (Or you only have one device registered.)

    In short, the parent poster and his moderators are idiots.

  • by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:21AM (#44246993) Journal

    I think it's been ten years or more since I've said it; but everything you need to know about why "the cloud" sucks can be summed up in one line:

    "I can't use my word processor. The network is down".

    I think I may have started saying this to people back when Sun (remember them?) had a slogan about "the network is the computer". Sheesh... whenever somebody is trying to tell you that one thing is another, a big red warning light and a siren ought to go off. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm tired. I've been freedoming over a hot stove all day.

  • by Macgrrl ( 762836 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:40AM (#44247081)

    I also worry about the 'permanence' of such a solution. Paid or unpaid, plenty of these types of services have come and gone over the years, why is drop box going to have any more traction than any other 'flavour of the month' web-service. Even Google could fall, let alone smaller companies with much less in the bank.

  • by multimediavt ( 965608 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @12:58AM (#44247173)

    If its all encrypted its safe, but i agree it could be a bad day when they decide to ransom your data with higher prices down the road. It also sux when you are off-line and want a file.

    I prefer not to have a monthly bill to access my stuff. ( sure, you could depreciate out your hard drives and come up with a "monthly equivalent", but still.. )

    1. You're delusional. Encryption is NOT a magic spell that keeps anyone but you out. I don't care if it's 65536-bit, no. Cryptanalysis is at a level you could not possibly comprehend.

    2. Booth was a coward that shot a great man in the back of the head while seated in a theatre. And like your sig says, I don't give a flying fornication what you think of that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:43AM (#44247327)

    In theory, cloud storage is a great idea, with a few critical advantages over local storage: accessibility from anywhere, and reliability through being distributed. In order to match the advantages of local storage, though, it needs the following:

    1. Security. The cloud storage should be encrypted, and only the end-user devices should have the keys to decrypt it.

    2. True redundancy. It shouldn't depend on a single provider remaining in business. A peer-to-peer protocol, in which a thousand anonymous strangers back up each other's data, is a better bet.

    3. Low latency. There's no way an internet connection is going to match hard drive seek times, let alone the latency of flash storage. There's no fixing this one. If latency is important to you, stick with local storage.

  • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @01:57AM (#44247403)

    I do not trust you Uncle Sam!

  • by Anarchduke ( 1551707 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:27AM (#44247571)
    Let me get this straight. You had a computer with a RAID drive array + external hard drives and all of them fried. And you were stupid enough not to have real surge protection? Ah, that explains why you are willing to pay drop box all that money.
  • by fph il quozientatore ( 971015 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @02:27AM (#44247573)

    <cynicism >Hard drives are guaranteed to not fail for at least 5 years?[...] </cynicism>

    <more cynicism> Is Dropbox? </more cynicism>

  • Dear Drew Houston (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday July 11, 2013 @07:33AM (#44248765)

    Dear Drew Houston,
              The NSA has killed your business model.
    Yours truly,
              The Government

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban