Friday, April 22, 2011

Keeping Music in the Clouds

First there were vinyl record albums, which I'll admit, I'm a big fan of. I like the way they sound, you can read the liner notes and really appreciate a good album cover. But it's true they do take up a lot of space and can be scratched or damaged fairly easily.

Which is why in the late '80s the vinyl record largely disappeared from most record stores (remember those places?) to be replaced by the compact disc, which as its name implied was more compact. CDs took up a lot less space than records and they were harder to damage or scratch. However by the end of the 1990s, after only a decade in charge, CDs were already on their way out as digital mp3s swept in.

Mp3s are largely what music consumption has been centered around for the last decade. We've all got our iPods, iTunes and iPhones stocked up with thousands of the things. And why not? They sound as good as CDs at least and they're compact. You can carry you iPod in your pocket and access thousands of songs to listen to from anywhere. This is a long way from the days of the cassette Walkman for which you could reasonably only carry a few different tapes with you at a time.

But while mp3s don't take up any physical space they sure take up a lot of space on our hard drives. Media files like mp3s, photos and video clips are huge space eaters. So while they don't consume shelf space they can burden your processor and slow down your computer overall.

Enter the latest innovation in music consumption. Apple has reportedly just completed work on a new online, cloud-based "music locker" service that will allow users to store their music files on a remote server and access them from anywhere they can get a connection. This means that Apple seem to have got the jump on Google who have gotten bogged down in their own efforts to launch a similar service.

I've got to say for a vinyl record aficionado I was a bit slow on the uptake when it came to both CDs and mp3s. But this sounds pretty cool to me. However keeping all your music files online in a cloud-based server does carry some risks. Just ask

The Seattle-based Internet retail giant also does a major line in Web hosting for cloud-based remote servers. But on Thursday one of their major servers suffered a network failure which lead to an automatic recovery response which also failed. The result was that sites across the Internet went down including many cloud-based Web applications for creating business plans and other functions.

So while keeping your music collection in a cloud might seem like the most convenient way of storing files, you might want to keep your old turntable on standby in case of network failure. I know mine is standing by at the ready.

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