GMAIL, Facebook, Twitter and Lastpass have all had serious hacks in the past couple of years. I think the in vogue status symbol in the next couple of years will be to create your own cloud service in your closet and back it up to the cloud encrypted.
There might be a cool startup there: home cloud systems that leverage redundant broadband connections (dsl + cable + fios) in your home that are harder to hack. They would be harder to hack because they are not part of the tareted BigCos right?
anyway, just an idea... "google docs server for home"
Not neccessarily. A lot of totally unknown installs get hacked all the time (cf. random WP blogs) by script kiddies who scan thousands of adresses trying to find a few to get into. They don't care you're not a BigCo and that your server is in your basement.
And if you're taking care of that server yourself (and assuming you do have other things to do in your life), you're likely to miss some security upgrade, and might leave a hole open just enough for someone to accidentially stumble into.
I presume having the server only accessible through a VPN, and configuring all your devices (laptops, tablets, phones) might do the trick, but that's a bit pushing it.
Correct but the issue to me is not "what can the neighborhood general store do themselves". It's wcfwd - what could Fred Wilson do. Fred doesn't have to fly coach (although he does fly coach apparently).
I agree with the other comments that you are less of a target in general also depending on where your docs are located (or where your server is colocated even if it's your house).
Fred is going for the low hanging fruit solution to a problem. Not necessarily the best solution.
I've got myself, my wife, my mother, step-father and sister all running Ubuntu 11.04 on rather cheap (as in price) but still good Lenovo hardware. Everything just works (and well) and since Chrome runs great on Linux, they have the exact setup in the article and they have near zero need for anything more. I don't get paying 10-20% more for shiny.
Anyway, that point aside, I absolutely love the setup. As I've said, I pretty much run this myself. My local file system is actually a huge Ubuntu One disk (cheaper than dropbox plus I get music streaming to my Android phone) so I don't even worry about backups (even so, I still have backups....call me old fashioned) and all my code is in github or bitbucket (depending on project). It has really been working quite well for me for about 1.5 years or so.
The big thing I noticed when setting up non-technical family members (all those listed above are teachers, FYI) is that you just have to create some bookmarks to Google docs and the like, and maybe create a desktop shortcut to them. I take my workflow for granted sometimes, and I've realized they are used to clicking on something to open it so creating a bookmark in the toolbar or a shortcut on the desktop makes it feel like an app to them. Other than that, no real adjustment.
Access is nice. But putting all your eggs into the cloud isn't a good idea. And how the heck are you ever going to run grep on your google docs?
I hear Google have a pretty good solution for that
If grepping were a common enough need you could write a tool to unzip to tmp, grep, report locations. Or something. In any event having a local file opens up some options the cloud doesn't.
This whole "let's move everything to the cloud" movement seems primarily to be driven by people who don't have a lot of work to do on computers besides browse websites, email, and write blog posts. They may do a lot of other work, but their computer use is fairly limited to a few tasks.
Meanwhile, business users are only going to make the jump when the multi-billion dollar companies that employ them feel comfortable having confidential information stored on a server in some other random country (i.e. probably not in my lifetime).
That's the problem Google and the other "cloud" providers have to overcome before they can claim victory - not some minimal use case like this.
Myself, I moved all my vital email, coding, and business administration from a desktop box with Linux to an Android phone and an MBP on the last trip I took. When I came back, I didn't bother switching back. however, I'm not ready to abandon the safety of my own hard drive.
Your phone and laptop can be confiscated for any or no reason if you cross the US Border inbound. If you travel internationally, be sure to be non-controversial.
I'm wondering, though, are you saying I should be concerned about losing the hardware or the data in particular? You mean, store everything in the cloud so access to my hardware doesn't automatically mean access to my data? How about TrueCrypt or Apple's encrypted home partition option?
What I used to do is have everything on my home system, then connect to it through VNC or NX from the road. It's great when there's a fast connection available, but too frequently VNC is unusable due to unreliable internet connections. I'll get this network thing figured out some day.
Myself, I moved all my vital email, coding, and
business administration from a desktop box with
Linux to an Android phone and an MBP on the last
trip I took.
Considering those trends I would not want to store any unencrypted data in the cloud.
Epsilon and Sony are just two, recent examples. The TJ Max incident a few years ago. Etc.
The "cloud" is useful, except there isn't actually "a" cloud, there are just individual businesses inviting you into their capacious silos. It's lock-in with more risk.
"The cloud" needs a lot more work before we can call it "the" cloud, and before we can call it safe.
So instead of using a free ad sponsored storage point where you are what is being sold, you pay $50 a year for a storage point that is hosted offshore, is encrypted, etc.
The one problem that the cloud faces is that applications need to be decoupled from storage. ie. you should be able to have your documents with provider x, but use the word processor from providers y or z to access them. Each of the apps at the moment set up their own storage silo, there is no real 'my documents' or home directory for the cloud
They now have access to your financials, your location, your search, your email. You've handed the most amazing trove of your business's intelligence over to Google to manage and handle for you.
Generally I trust Google. But, when a company has a fiduciary duty to maximize shareholder value, and more and more corporations start switching over to a Google Apps platform over the next decade. I'd be suprised if Google didn't start to use that huge trove of business intelligence to it's financial advantage.
If Google acquires a company that's in Union Square's portfolio, wouldn't it be silly _not_ to look at what's been going on in Charles River's Google Apps account regarding that company?
That said, I don't agree. Sure its possible, but Google is going to jeopardize its entire business to see what Fred Wilson is emailing his partners? Yeah right.
This is a VPN that installs to Amazon EC2, but could trivially install on any other VPS provider (or even at home). The reason I targeted EC2 is because it is the most difficult to work with (due to IP traffic restrictions). However, EC2 also provides a mechanism for dynamically binding IP addresses to your instance, meaning it is easy for your VPN to hop around.
The major advance of swandive is that it is compatible, out of the box, with every device out there. It doesn't require you to root your Android device, it Just Works with iOS, there is no client to install for it to work on OS X or Windows. Install Swandive, connect, then destroy your VPS when you're done. Disposable and Universal.
I do back up my stuff that is 'on the cloud' but that is quick & easy and I only do it occasionally.