The Cloud, Day 16: Stuck in Upload Hell

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30 Days With the Cloud: Day 16

As I spend this 30 Days With the Cloud it has not been that difficult to find acceptable cloud-based alternatives for most tasks and functions I normally perform using local software. So far, the biggest roadblock to a complete migration to the cloud is getting my data from Point A to Point B.

On Day 11 when I talked about the options for cloud-based music and storing my own relatively large digital music collection online, I mentioned that I had tried to use Google Music, but eventually aborted because it was taking forever to upload the data. One of the things that made Apple’s service an instant winner for me is iTunes Match and the fact that Apple is able to deliver my music collection from its own library rather than requiring me to upload files Apple already has on its servers.

Some readers challenged my claims, though, when it comes to the length of time it takes to upload the data. One reader commented, “On a 12Mb/s connection ~6000 songs takes about 2 hours, so a month? Got to be slower then 56Kb modum [sic].”

I had forgotten to include Amazon Cloud Player in my Day 11 exploration of cloud music options. I have an unlimited allocation of space with Amazon Cloud Player, so I decided t upload my music. Amazon scanned my drive and identified 9,014 songs which it projected would take nearly 46 hours to upload. That is a tad longer than the three hours it “should” take based on the math in the above comment.

The disconnect, I believe, comes down to a basic misunderstanding of megabits vs. megabytes. I am not aware of any ISP providing 12mbps upload speeds as quoted in the comment, but the 5mbps upload I am getting from Comcast is quite zippy for a home broadband service.

Moving those 1s and 0s from my PC to the cloud is a major undertaking.
Each of my 9,000-plus songs is ripped at a 256k, or at least 192k bit rate. The individual files average somewhere around 6MB. That is 54,000MB, or 54GB of data. There are eight megabits in a megabyte. That means that five megabits per second translates to roughly 38 megabytes per minute--or about six of my song files. Six songs per minute is 360 songs per hour which means I could maybe upload the entire collection in about 25 hours if I maintain an optimal upload speed the entire time.

As it turned out, uploading those files to the Amazon Cloud Player took more like four days—with babysitting. I was using a PC with nothing else running except the Amazon uploader. It worked fine when it was running, but it kept pausing for no apparent reason, and wouldn’t continue unless I clicked the “Resume” button.

I have no idea how much time was lost sitting in pause mode--especially while I was asleep--so I can’t say for sure how long it might have taken straight through. The bottom line is that two hours for 6,000 songs is a fantasy, and that uploading data to the cloud takes a long time.

This example is just 54GB of music. I have another 200GB or 300GB of photos, videos, documents and other data. I have 600GB of total storage capacity available with my Box account, but it would take nearly six days to upload 300GB of data--assuming I could maintain the peak upload rate of 5mbps 24/7 for the entire process.

Individuals may only have 50GB, or 150GB, or 250GB of data, but businesses could have terabytes of data to upload. There are faster upload speeds possible, but it is a daunting process no matter how you slice it. The cloud is great and provides a lot of benefits, but the process of getting the data into the cloud needs some significant improvement.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 15: Dollars and Cents in the Cloud

Day 17: Cloud Entertainment Comes with Strings Attached

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