Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Managing Storage in the World of Cloud Storage

I was a Google employee when Gmail first launched. At that time, 1GB of e-mail storage was stupendously huge, and you could never use it up. I remember once calculating that the amount of storage Gmail was adding was increasing at such a rate that I could never use it up.

I turned out to be wrong. For one thing, Google has stopped increasing the amount of storage available at 16GB. While that's huge for e-mail, Google made a second move that made that amount of storage too small. It commingled PicasaWeb storage, Google Drive storage, and e-mail storage all in the same place.

While the rest of the world uses crappy cell phone cameras and uploads 1024x768 resolution photographs, I use real cameras and upload full size 10MB photos. This used up storage at a stupendous rate. For a while I was OK, since I was on a legacy storage plan which granted me an additional 20GB of storage at $5/year. But due to a snafu while I was traveling recently, my legacy plan failed to renew and I was stuck being over quota.

Now, I could pay $24/year for 100GB, but seriously? When I could get 5TB Unlimited Storage for $100/year and get Microsoft Office in addition? No thanks. I didn't grow up paying for over-priced products when cheaper alternatives are better. Heck, buying a 4TB hard drive now costs $130, which is a far better deal by any account, and of course, services like SmugMug cost $40/year for unlimited photo storage.

Now, I could just live with not posting any more new photos onto my PicasaWeb account, but being over-quota also meant that I'd stop receiving e-mail, which isn't acceptable. So I set about deleting content from my quota. Oh boy! PicasaWeb gives you no way to find out which albums are using the most storage (or using any storage for that matter, since despite my best efforts I occasionally still use my phone for photos). I also had to be careful with which photos I deleted, since many of my photo albums are linked to by various blog posts.

As a result, I ended up having to delete e-mail. I tried to move e-mail from the cloud to local storage using Thunderbird, but apparently Thunderbird was never designed to handle the kind of volume of e-mail I had using IMAP. It would tell me that it's moved data to local storage but when I visited the local storage folder none of the e-mails were there. (Needless to say, I only did this with e-mail I didn't care about, so the loss was no big deal)

After much effort, I managed to get my e-mail and web photos down to 95% of my quota, but now I'm stuck with managing my e-mail strictly to stay under quota. So I'm now going to start using a local e-mail client (I'm still reviewing alternatives but haven't found a good one yet), and then store e-mail locally rather than in the cloud for anything older than a month. It's a pain, since I enjoy using search, but the reality is, cloud storage is still too expensive compared to local storage for someone who get gobs of e-mail or has years of e-mail to store.

Ironically, what this means is that more of my photos will be available on Facebook (albeit at a lower resolution) than on Google's servers because of this pricing issue. But them's the breaks. I will  have to find a public photo solution later.
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