It’s interesting how much of our lives are stuck on the cloud. Some hard drive on a server rack in a data center in upstate New York or Atlanta, Georgia holds the keys to all our lives. Family photos, ebooks, pirated games, a few sensitive tax documents we shouldn’t be storing this way. Some of us don’t even keep files on our personal devices anymore. The hassle of transferring everything is a bigger problem than the privacy risk. It’s like that for me too, generally.

The cloud is really useful.

When I was twelve, my parents’ computer got reformatted. They tried to back everything up on CDs, but missed what I stored outside of the “My Documents” folder. So I lost a whole lot. Dozens of sprite comics, picture folders, Game Maker games all disappeared. A few years later, the computer crashed altogether. I lost it all, all over again. What content I had posted online, or what lingered on CD-RWs and flash drives, was all that remained.

I started backing things up on an external hard drive. Weekly backups of the entire computer. But that sweet, sweet 600 GB of storage space proved too lucrative. I put my whole life on that hard drive, kept so many important documents and lots of well-organized pirated anime, and then that, too, crashed, and I lost everything. Right at the tail end of high school, where I was looking back at all the cool stuff I found, the art I made in those first 10 years of internet life.

So then I started using Dropbox and Google Drive and Skydrive for cloud storage. Mediafire and Photobucket for file sharing. I even found other lesser-known sites like Synplicity, Box SugarSync. All for free, I triple-checked my documents and felt more secure than ever.

It helped me once. Another final hard drive crash came a few years later, and none of my important files were lost. It was always annoying backing everything up a thousand times, but I couldn’t risk losing it all yet again. These services saved me, and more importantly they kept my peace of mind when

Since then, though, the cloud has been shorthand for “share my files between devices.” In almost a decade haven’t used it to save anything from ruin. Haven’t felt that peace of mind, knowing I’m being datamined by large corporations. Over that decade, each and every cloud storage company reduced its free storage, disabled hotlink sharing, begged me to subscribe to expensive paid plans, and even shut down altogether.

Now I just default to the basics. The cloud is there so I don’t have to plug in my phone to transfer files. As an easy way to set up new PCs. Or, in the worst-case scenario, the cloud is there to keep me safe in case of a rainy day.

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