More than One Answer at Hand to Mobile Storage Challenges

Carl Weinschenk
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Custom Mobile Apps: Streamlining the Way Business Gets Done

Yesterday, in a post about the ever-increasing networked element of wireless security, I linked to a Forbes article by David Amerland that discussed mobile cloud computing (MCC). In such platforms, mobile devices work off centralized infrastructure and are limited to being thin clients with minimal processing and storage.

Off-device storage is used for mobile devices today, of course. But it is not in as pronounced a manner as what Amerland suggests may make sense in the future. Indeed, it almost seems as if cloud computing is better aimed at mobility since – unlike desktop devices – smartphones and other mobile devices start with processing and storage limitations.

Widespread MCC is a long way off and, indeed, most likely won’t come to pass. The suggestion, though, begs the question of the current state of mobile storage. InformationWeek’s Eric Zeman describes the landscape. Essentially, there are phones in which storage can be expanded and those in which it can’t. Zeman offers examples of both classes of devices and the options for each approach. He also discusses off-device storage:

Cloud services throw a bit of a curveball into the entire equation, but they don't present an unsolvable problem. A number of services have sprung up in recent years offering online storage that can be accessed directly from smartphones. Some examples include Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, Apple iCloud and so on. Each offers some storage (2 GB - 5 GB) for free, with paid options that range up to 1 TB if you don't might coughing up a small fortune.

There is a third option – after the two types of on-device storage and cloud-based approaches – for folks whose mobile devices are overflowing with data. Dong Ngo at CNET describes the approach as external devices with built-in Wi-Fi capable of backing up multiple devices. The devices, he writes, can be used to stream what is stored on them.

Ngo offers descriptions of several products in this sector: Kingston’s Wi-Drive, G-Technology’s G-Connect, Corsair’s Voyager Air and two offerings from Seagate: the GoFlex Satellite and the Wireless Plus. The story links to more extensive reviews.

Amerland’s piece in Forbes raised the issue of moving predominately to cloud-based mobile storage. That made it important to look at today’s options. That, in turn, begs another question: What can users do to minimize the storage drain on their devices? This issue tracks the long-standing issue of battery life: Finding new sources of power for mobile devices is an industry goal. But the gravity of the situation is mitigated by better managing the juice that is generated by current batteries.

Susan Hazelwood at the British site Dial-a-Phone takes on the issue of identifying overlooked storage drains and thereby increasing the amount available for subscribers’ use. She suggests getting rid of unwanted apps, deleting unnecessary data, utilizing off-device options such as those mentioned by Amerland and Ngo, and increasing the capacity of the microSD cards.

Storage likely will become a bigger issue as time passes. The good news is that there seem to be ways to stretch the soup to make a given amount of storage go further, and, if necessary, to increase the size of the bowl.

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