The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is going to offer free-form online storage in the next few months. They already provide specialized storage for email, documents, and pictures (via Picasa), so it’s no surprise that they’re moving into offering storage for everything else digital.
To go meta a bit, I wonder whether Google leaked this information to the Wall Street Journal, and if this is more evidence that Google is managing its product life cycle in a more traditional way. Back in the day, you found out about new Google products when they launched. Now we have announcements like Android, and here’s an announcement by leak. Is this an attempt to get people to wait for Google’s offering rather than use Amazon S3 and other similar products?
On the topic if online storage, I find that my preconceived notions about how to use it were a bit off. I had the bright idea to use S3 to back up all my files, but I never even got to step 2. Why? S3 was too slow, mostly, and handling the backup process turned out to be a pain. Now I plan on buying an external hard drive to use for backups so that I can take advantage of Mac tools like Carbon Copy Cloner and Time Machine.
What I’m now thinking is that the “cloud” is more useful for storing files I’m actively using, and that traditional media is better for backups. I’d love to have my iTunes library in the cloud so that I can access it from any computer. And having my bookmarks and email in del.icio.us and Gmail have both been huge wins in terms of productivity. Flickr is a perfectly good place to keep my photos, and pretty much every piece of code I work on is stored in a Subversion repository that I can get to from anywhere as well. I’m now thinking of backups more in terms of disaster recovery and less in terms of archiving, and I expect anything I store in the cloud to be backed up by whoever provides the storage.