RIP: The floppy Is Dead

With all these new free services on the ‘net that offer everything from free email to the free “virtual office,” the real heavy hitter in this arena is the new revolutionary market of free data storage.

Not very exciting you say? Balderdash.

Let’s take a look at what’s happening.

With the advent of the “no floppy” iMac, we are currently adapting to a new way of thinking about file transfer and data storage. Even a new way of thinking about what it means to be “mobile” and “connected.”

With the standards of internet connections becoming faster and more stable, a one meg file no longer justifies producing a 4.5″ plastic housing unit, i.e., the floppy — which, I’d like to mention, is a big win on the side of the environmentalists. Files of this size can be emailed, FTP’d, or placed on larger storage units like Zips. Let’s face it, as much as I find it aesthetically pleasing, the floppy is dead.

Okay. Now, let’s take a look at hard drives and space. It seems the current competitive trend of computer manufacturers is to provide the highest quality machine, with all the bells and whistles, for the lowest price — “more bang for the buck.”

This entails convincing the average user he or she needs 6-plus gigs to stay in tune with technology, which isn’t hard to do since we are accustomed to thinking that more is better. But is “more” what we need?

It’s a shock to those who have been designing graphics on 1- or 2-gig systems and are wondering what in the hell the average user will need with 6-,7-, or even 9-gig computers. It’s analogous to the sports utility vehicle syndrome (SUVS if you will). Or offering a Porsche to a soccer mom.

Pretty soon, the public will realize that it doesn’t need the “Porsche” of computers (the SUVS), and this will force manufacturers to offer the small and medium machines which, in effect, will cause computer prices to fall. And it’s companies like Compaq and Apple that seem to be adapting to this new market of computer shopper.

So, that being said, this is where we get back to the new revolutionary data storage. If we need extra storage capabilities, the future is having access to our “satellite” drives. No extra hardware. No huge drives that cost a bundle. The future is in the network.

Companies such as Free Drive, for example, are offering 20 free megs of password protected storage space, which can be accessed through your browser. I imagine the site is paid for by advertising, and it offers additional services such as chat, hit reporting, and group email for an additional fee. And as people become reliant on their on-line storage use, such amenities may become necessary. But the initial 20 megs are free.

Upload and download from any computer at any time. Keep your portfolio or resume on a server and grab it when you’re in New York for the meeting. Or upload the important documents that are too big to email, and have the client pick them up on their end.

What is all this adding up to you ask?

The network computer. It is the way things are going. We all know it’s where things have been pointing for quite a while. But with companies like Free Drive popping up, the future is coming much faster than we had anticipated. You might even ditch your hard drive all together.

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