Is the Drive Mightier than the Cloud?

Cloud storage is the Chris Pratt of the data storage world. It’s the new hot thing, everybody thinks they know it, and it’s the go-to namedrop when you want to impress your friends or confuse your grandma.

The cloud! It’s in the cloud! Oh, I saved it to the cloud!

It sounds magic, right? This ethereal thing that is all-encompassing endless storage. But what is it exactly?

Well, there’s no singular magic cloud. Cloud storage refers to online-only data storage. Amazon has one for all your downloaded ebooks, audiobooks, and music. Google Drive is a cloud for storing all sorts of documents, images, materials. In fact, Chromebooks rely almost solely on cloud storage to operate. It’s definitely a cool feature. A testament to humanity’s achievements as we move into the future yada yada yada….

But in my humble opinion, I prefer the good ol’ flash drive. Some people claim the flash drive is on it’s way out. I would argue just the opposite. The flash drive is on its way in, baby! I remember buying a flash drive in college and, as I stared into the empty cavity that was once my wallet, thinking I’ll only ever own one of these. As the cost of the technology becomes more affordable, flash drives can be used in ways that would never be possible with their old price tags. Now I have a whole key ring of them. As a writer, I find them indispensable for storing my projects. Which brings me to my major points–the reasons I can’t live without a flash drive.

Sometimes It’s Nice to Have Something Tangible

The_drive_is_mightier_than_the_cloudCloud storage is praised because it’s invisible, no hardware needed. That’s exactly why I’m not really into it. First of all, you do need hardware of some kind–and usually that device is quite spendy. Second of all, I prefer to have something to hold onto. I like having something to keep on my keyring. There’s been plenty of times where I needed to hand off a large file to somebody. Too big to send in an email, or I needed to use a printer in a pinch. And if I were to want to give out copies of my book in digital form, what’s more memorable than handing out a customized flash drive? And frankly….

Sometimes You Don’t Have the Internet

I know that is hard to believe. Some of you can’t even fathom a time where wi-fi, or data at the very least, isn’t at your fingertips. But as someone who spent half a decade living on the North Shore, I can tell you those times, those locations, do exist. Sometimes you want to camp out in a coffee shop and the bandwidth is so atrocious you might as well be disconnected but you drove all this way because this place has the best frappuccinos! Do you really just want to throw in the towel, or would you like to have a backup? And speaking of slow internet…

Sometimes a Flash Drive is Just Plain Faster

No really! With cloud storage, you rely on the speed of whatever internet connection you’re using. Now even if you argue the internet is always there when you need it, you can’t always control the speed. Maybe your roommates are sucking up all the bandwidth, maybe the weather is affecting your connectivity, maybe you’re juuuuuust out of service range. With all my deadlines, I wouldn’t want to chance it.

Before you go calling me a neo-Luddite, let me be clear: I think the Cloud is cool. I use it a lot. I’m using it right now as a matter of fact (irony?) But, in a jam, USB drives have always seen me through. My flash drive collection is more than just a ring of trinkets. They’re souvenirs, memories, badges of courage, and digital Swiss Army Knives. And I don’t leave home without one.