02/07/2012 12:00 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2012

Why I Need the Cloud

I have already established myself as a Gadget Guy. My gadgets usually use digital files (mp3 files, mp4, etc.), create digital files (JPG and AVI/MOV files) or let me create other things using digital files (DVD's, Blu-Ray, etc.). Every year these digital files get bigger and bigger. So two years ago I bought a HP MediaSmart Home Server (since discontinued -- see my blog about The Perils of the Early Adopter) with eight terabytes of storage, or the equivalent of 1,700 DVD's. Surely that would be enough for me and my gadgets and for the most part it is. Every gadget I have feeds this monolithic monstrosity in my office and makes me feel like my digital legacy is safe and sound. I have thousands of photos and videos stored that I cherish, all backed up and saved on these drives and short of a catastrophic accident, they will last way longer than an old photo album in a flooded basement (I grew up in South Windsor with a basement that always flooded and resulted in smelly ruined photo albums).

But it was not meant to be.

I came home yesterday to copy hundreds of my recent wedding photos to my server and OMG! -- Nothing. No Lights. No Hum. Nothing. I got the dreaded "Server is not available" message and my heart sank. I can only liken it to the feeling you get when you realize your house has been broken into! Someone (something) has stolen something of mine and I may never get it back. That began my night of phone calls to 1-800 Tech Support numbers, rummaging through CD's looking for the System Restore discs and enduring countless Windows updates as I tried relentlessly to restore my Digital Warehouse to its former glory.

But it was not meant to be.

I talked to no fewer than eight tech support people from who-knows-where and they were all very helpful but have not been able to help get my server back online. They now feel like comrades that I should send a Christmas card to, as they really hung in there with me. But I may have to face the facts and make a spot in my technology graveyard (my basement) for yet another well-meaning piece of technology. I kept thinking "what could I have done differently" and it became very clear to me. Move my files to the "Cloud." Make my new-found tech team responsible for the security and backup of my files. They seem to be always available and really know their stuff. Plus they guarantee the files will always be available. Short of Armageddon, I can rely on the cloud to protect and deliver my digital life to me. And I can access my files from anywhere. DropBox is currently the best service to use ( and it lets you store up to two gigabytes for free. I think that my server malfunction was a wake-up call for me to move to the cloud.

Finally, I think it was meant to be.