The Private Cloud

By | 2010-09-09

If you are a technical person, it’s hard not to read about “The Cloud” these days.  Storing your personal data, be that contacts, notes, spread sheets, word processing documents, music, or whatever type of data file you can think of.  Someone seems to offer a service for storing your data.

But who will do this and guarantee privacy and security?  That’s a head scratcher isn’t it?  I have an Nexus One Android phone, and love it.  But I don’t sync my contacts with Google.  It would be easy to do so.  But personally, I will never trust Google, or any other online service to store my most personal data, unless they can guarantee that transmission and storage is encrypted to the highest degree based on modern technology.  And won’t be read or intercepted for their own personal gain.

I came across a service last night called Ubuntu One.  I got excited thinking this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.  I paid service that isn’t looking to take advantage of “reading” my personal data for their own advertizing and profit gain.  They claim to transmit the data encrypted with SSL, that’s great.  But store it unencrypted.  Now it’s worthless to me.  Very disappointing.  Yes, they say someone has came up with a way to encrypt it for storage on their service, but now it goes from being an easy to use service to jumping through digital hoops and hacking together some abortion of a system, that will maybe get it to do what you want, and pay for the privilege as well.  From personal experience, I already know these solutions are very time consuming and typically break often.

There is an Open Source software called Funambol that shows potential.  Some organizations offer free and paid for versions.  But none of them have worked for me.  Yes they work, sort of, if you have very low and limited expectations.  All the versions I have tried have bugs, limitations, flaws, and unbelievably poor or non-existent support.  Last time I tried to use Funambol, it didn’t even allow for Outlook having multi-line contact notes that were more than X number of lines.  It simple truncates your contact’s notes and doesn’t warn you, erasing your notes data permanently if you didn’t make a backup and notice this huge gaping flaw.  And the Funambul community didn’t care when I brought it to their attention, cause it was my fault for thinking I could use my Outlook for the storing of notes about my contacts.  Their solution was to not save so many lines of notes, I was basically told doing so was stupid.  This is not a solution any true respectable programmer would ever consider to offer.  This is just one flaw I found in trying to use this “cloud” solution.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have software that would allow you to create your own “Cloud” on your own computer and be able to transmit and store your own data on your own system securely using the Internet?  Does it exist?  I haven’t found it yet.  Not that it will work with my devices.  Or requires you to write or rewrite your own device drivers.  Or even a paid for service that would do it for you, and offer you true security.  Somewhere we can sync our phones to without worry of our data being farmed.

I envision the Private Cloud to be an Internet storage service that easily works with my desktop, laptop and phone.  Offers encrypted transmission and storage.  I want them to charge me for the service so they can stay in business and not have to look at advertising to me, or selling my private information.  And charge me enough that they can offer support.  I’m surprised that no one seems to offer this service yet.  And if it exists, please tell me where to find it.

So I wonder, does the Private Cloud exist?  Or is the Cloud simply a paradigm for companies to trick innocent users into using, so they can sell them something.  Give us a Private Cloud and you may be surprised how many people jump at the chance to give you some money.

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