Moving To A Cloud

I spend a lot of time investigating the history of tiny houses and where we – as a community – might have gotten this notion that we can survive in a space less than the typical American bathroom (which, by the way, averages 160 sq.ft.). I augment that time frame of research and argument with the supposition we – as humans – can live almost anywhere. That is why I am pleased to announce today that I have recently moved to a cloud. Yes, you heard me right. I have moved to a cloud.

photo courtesy of David Gildeh

So maybe that isn’t totally true. Or rather maybe that isn’t what it sounds like. In fact, it is so ridiculous to say out loud that I am not even going to continue the metaphor. The idea is this. In order to free so much of my life (physical space, mail box, office, etc) I have made the full transition to being paper free. I say full transition because in the past I have moved small amounts of media from hard drive to external drive and then external drive to DVD and now DVD/hard format (disc, print, mail, etc) to logic pools that exist only on a hosted server. Like many others though I have exhibited some trepidation in doing so.

What if their server crashes? How do I just view a photo to print it? Is my laptop useless now? 

Burying The Doubt

I want to quickly and efficiently debunk the cloud myth once and for all (and this is how I explained it to my mother just last week). Do you use Gmail? (she responds, “Yes. You set it up for me, remember?) Okay so where is your email then? Where does it live beyond the ‘Reply’ and ‘Move To Trash’ buttons? (she hesitates but then responds “It lives right there in Gmail, I guess.”) Exactly. If you have a Gmail account (or Yahoo or Hotmail or AOL or almost anything else) then you have already been building your house in the cloud. Your email is “in the cloud,” which means you can access it anywhere you have an internet connection. The same can now be done with all of your files and once done means you can downsize your personal computing device, give away your desk, dispose of the file cabinet, make garden mobiles out of old CDs and DVDs, and discontinue your iPhoto backup.

And you want to do this again because? You want to do it because you know someone personally whose computer has died on them or been attacked by the latest virus and taken data with it. Remember Aunt Judy’s 81st birthday? Glad you do because the photos you took are gone for good! Oh, and how about those Saturday mornings you decide are good for a little house cleaning so you pop in some classic Rod Stewart and make light work of both the cobwebs and the broom cum microphone stand. Distant memory now. Oh, and the cobwebs are back! How about that spreadsheet you did for work? You know. The one with 7 tabs and over 3000 cells of data? Its loss is more tragic than the finale of La Boheme. You can avoid all of that by storing files in the cloud. Losing any file in a hard drive crash should be little more than a laugh line in a 90’s sitcom by now.

Hard Drive Crash

Additional Benefits

When you store your data in the cloud a number of additional benefits lay at your fingertips.

  • You can easily switch or add/subtract devices
  • You can access your files from a tablet or smartphone
  • You can save money on buying alternative backup devices and media devices
  • You can access your data from another persons computer
  • You can access data while traveling
  • You can share files with others by just sending a friendly URL
  • You don’t have to worry if your computer is stolen or broken
  • You can easily switch to a new computer

Keep It In Mind

Before you completely commit to becoming my neighbor and building your tiny house (of data) in the clouds you may want to consider a few things first.

  • Security/Encryption. Always read the privacy policies when creating an account. If your data is extra sensitive you may want to look into encryption or a password generation program such as 1Password.
  • Availability. If you are even think you are going to have to access your data without an Internet connection you need to find a service that offers some sort of offline mode or you need to continue storing data on an actual hard drive of some sort (and resume those risks.)
  • Pricing. Most cloud systems cost a nominal fee each month. A number of them do come with ways to increase your storage without paying though. For instance I was able to triple my Dropbox capacity just by inviting others to join and sharing the service on social media platforms. All in all cloud storage is still cheaper than any of my external hard drives were.
  • Optical drives disappeared. If you think that cloud storage is a fad and you can keep on using your disks and hard drives as you always have I beg you to look at a laptop made in the last two years and point to the optical drive. Chances are there isn’t one. Hard storage is a think of the past. Soon you will have no options left.

I will not for a second pretend it is easy to make the total transition to the cloud. Emotions and sentiment often get the best of us and make us keep old disks and such. Coming to terms with a changing digital landscape is hard and letting go of the physical proof is even harder. But if I know anything about the tiny house movement it is this.

1. We go tiny because we just don’t want or need all that space. But with that space goes storage. It hurts at first but feels oh, so good later on. Look at the DVDs and CDs and such you have now. Imagine getting that space back because you no longer have that media? Nice, right?

2. We believe in sustainable living. We believe in organic living. We don’t want to leave this Earth worse than even we found it. All of the packaging involved in DVDs and CDs and hard drives is little more than physical pollution

Are you convinced? Will you be moving in next door? Will we be neighbors in the cloud?

By Andrew M. Odom for the [Tiny House Blog]

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Becca - November 5, 2014 Reply

I’ve been transitioning to the cloud over the past few months too… and i love it! Forget my laptop? Not a problem… I can pull it up anywhere there is an internet connection 🙂

    Andrew M. Odom - November 5, 2014 Reply

    Isn’t it great Becca? I enjoy that I can pull up my files on just my phone so long as there is WiFi.

Jody Pountain - November 5, 2014 Reply

Life in the clouds is pretty great!

Unfortunately for me, it only serves as a rare and last resort option. Traveling on a sailboat in other countries has proved challenging to get a strong enough internet connection to access my cloud files. When I do find a good signal, I have to dedicate a few hours to do a major backup, while retaining a copy of everything on an external hard drive or flash drive for everyday use.

Like you, I’ve also taken advantage of some of the tricks to getting more free cloud storage. I have yet to pick a favorite platform for photo storage though. Which one do you prefer for photos?

    Andrew M. Odom - November 5, 2014 Reply

    I edit photos with Photoshop and Bridge so I prefer Dropbox for my photos.

    If I used iPhoto to edit I would use iCloud because the transfer is relatively seamless.

    Great question Jody!

maudyfish - November 5, 2014 Reply

What’s this got to do with the price of beans?

mike - November 5, 2014 Reply


Andrew M. Odom - November 5, 2014 Reply

The entire point of blog posts such as this is that the tiny house lifestyle is not just one about pretty little, miniature structures. It is not just about dovetail jigs and trailer hitches. It is not just about who can build a tiny house for $3k or less. It is about a change in lifestyle; attitude. It is about learning to downsize ones life and realize the difference between need and want. In order to get to a place of living healthily in a small space 99% of the US population has to think of downsizing material possessions. Part of that is found in media: DVDs, CDs, record albums, external hard drives, etc. In order to do so without losing those objects of data it is important to know what is available to you. That is why I write posts about the tiny house lifestyle. Anyone can survive. I write for those who want to thrive. Viva la tiny!

Teresa - November 5, 2014 Reply

Do you have a recommended software for transferring dvd to cloud storage?

Nita - November 5, 2014 Reply

Love the Pic of Tiny Home in The Cloud! lol
Appreciate all the good information, as always!
Kindly, your fan

DarkEmeralds - November 5, 2014 Reply

Thanks for this! Digitizing everything I can has been a significant part of making my very small (not quite “tiny”) house tidy, spacious and livable over the last several years.

It wasn’t hard for me to overcome a book addiction, but physical books are a sticking point for a lot of people.

Shell - November 5, 2014 Reply

Ah Andrew, I have a better way to deal with naysayers like “what’s this got to do with a hill of beans?” and “Ridiculous”. Just tell them you’re sending them loving kindness and move on. It’s quick, you are being positive, and you don’t waste energy trying to explain yourself. You don’t have to explain, if they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. The majority of us really appreciate your articles. They are related to the simple living subject and make us think and open our minds more. Please keep just using your energy on the great articles you write for the masses who appreciate it instead.:). Namaste

JC Bayer - November 6, 2014 Reply

“Losing any file in a hard drive crash should be little more than a laugh line in a 90’s sitcom by now.”

The IRS didn’t realize this–& their version wasn’t funny at all.

Benjamin - November 6, 2014 Reply

My experience with the cloud has been a lot of waiting for files to upload and download. I’m pretty spoiled by my computers only taking a few seconds to move big files.

Kevin - November 8, 2014 Reply

I have a 1 terabyte hard drive in the computer and a 1 terabyte backup drive that takes up a tiny square of space under the monitor. I don’t need to pay a monthly cloud storage fee. If I ever find I have too much data, I’ll get rid of some. It’s like getting rid of excess possessions rather than paying a monthly fee for a storage locker.

el cooper - November 9, 2014 Reply

I’m techy challenged. If one relies on Cloud. .or anything computer generated or backed up, isn’t it necessary to have a computer or its systems to access your information ? Im not a conspiracy theorists, but what happens should the “satellite in the sky” fail.

Michel Sam - March 14, 2015 Reply

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