All kinds of hot new laptops are sprouting up lately, with Apple’s MacBook Air set to sell in record numbers this holiday season and fierce competition from the likes of Asus and Acer with their own, eerily similar, laptops based on Intel’s Ultrabook platform. These machines have an awful lot in common, from their blazing Intel i5 chips to their small and light form factors. Another feature they all share is their use of Solid State hard drives, commonly called SSDs.
An SSD is an amazing upgrade to any existing laptop, and a huge feature of this new class of laptops. For one, it means that these machines are truly portable—they turn on and boot up or awake from sleep in seconds thanks to a hard drive that’s as fast as a computer’s RAM. Applications launch almost instantaneously, thanks to these high-speed drives.
But there is one downside, and it’s not something most users know how to accept at first. Because these drives are enormously expensive, they tend to be very small. Users now have a difficult choice when it comes to the cost of their laptop: for the same price as a terabyte traditional hard drive, they can now own an SSD of perhaps 100-200 GB. That’s right, SSDs are, on average, almost ten times more expansive than the platter-based drives they’re replacing.
How is this possible? Where will users store their files that take up massive amounts of space like music and video? Although SSDs have been around for years, that question was left open for quite a while. After all, was it worth having a super speedy drive if it meant carrying around an additional, external drive everywhere? For a lot of users, the answer was no.
Enter the cloud. Storage in the cloud frees up our hard drive so that we only need to store the absolute essentials on our actual hardware. This means that you still need an operating system and programs installed locally, but also means that your personal files, like your documents and tunes, can be stored not on your computer itself, but in data centers instead. Innovative cloud music services like iCloud and Google Music allow you to free your music collection from the confines of your drive and instead play anything wherever you have an internet connection. File storage services like Norton Online Backup mean that you can easily access or share important business documents while on the go.
As computers become faster, smaller, and more connected we don’t have to sacrifice our ability to access our data, we simply need to get it in different ways, and that’s what the cloud helps us accomplish.