A funny thing happened on the way to the file system

Matt Asay finds himself using his hard drive less and less, and wondering whether he's part of a trend.

When Apple's MacBook Air first came out, I was woefully unimpressed . Sure, it was plenty pretty, but it lacked the thing I needed most: a big hard drive.

Well, a funny thing has happened in the past year. I've stopped using my hard drive.

Yes, I still install applications, all of which require hard-drive space. And yes, I still use Handbrake to rip DVDs to my hard drive to watch on long flights.

But I've also started keeping all of my e-mail on my company's Zimbra server. But it's not just e-mail: I keep all of my files in my e-mail folders, too. I work with a file long enough to edit it and then immediately delete it from my hard drive once I know it's safe on my e-mail server.

In fact, as I upload photos and just about everything else to remote servers, it's becoming less and less clear why I need much of a hard drive at all.

Maybe I shouldn't be loading up my e-mail system like it's a file system. Back in early 2007 Jeff Nolan wrote about poor performance with Microsoft Outlook/Exchange, quoting a Microsoft product manager who blamed the performance on people who were "misusing" an e-mail system as a file system.

As Nolan wrote, that product manager is completely wrong. Products, if their designers hope to have them endure, must live up to adoption patterns. At any rate, it's too late to go back: I like the freedom from my laptop that remote storage provides for me.

Or maybe I'll come to desire the security of my hard drive again. After watching a few friends struggle with dying hard drives, I'm not optimistic that this will happen.

So maybe, just maybe, I'm finally part of this whole "cloud" trend. I'm conservative and have never been very good at being trendy. This just happened to me. It started making more and more sense to store things remotely, because, well, they no longer felt all that remote.

You feeling the same?

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About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.

     

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