It was a big deal when Gmail first appeared because it finally offered enough storage to keep all your mail. People are drawn to free storage and last week Yahoo set the new standard with its one terabyte giveaway for photos. And, in fact, it’s the photos that are to blame for killing our storage requirements.
Within the next six months, everyone will be offering a terabyte. And this will be for everything, although photos will dominate the usage. The problem is now filling the terabyte.
There is no way any of these services are going to be able to suck up data fast enough so the terabyte can be filled within a reasonable time frame. And by reasonable I mean within a week or so, not a year of continuous uploading. If the pipes are enlarged, I supposed a terabyte could easily be uploaded every week.
Oh, and as an aside, I would like to mention to anyone at Yahoo who thinks that nobody has a terabyte of photos to chuck on Flickr – well, you are wrong. I personally have a terabyte of photos. And all those full-frame DSLR owners who shoot RAW have a lot more than that, I can assure you.
That said, a terabyte is cheap these days. You can buy a 4TB drive for around £120 currently. Depending on how Yahoo values a customer – say anywhere from $10 to $100 (£6 to £66) – the free terabyte should be below the value of a registered user. It's the bandwidth that becomes an issue. Can Yahoo manage millions of users loading up the Yahoo servers 24/7 with photos and who knows what?
And by the way, you can be sure people will use this storage for more than just photos. Even if the system checks to make sure these are just photos then steganography systems, which embed data into photos, will be employed.
I personally do not think that this announcement from Yahoo got the kind of applause that it should have received last week. This is a major change in the way users will perceive their free cloud backups. It's a big deal.
Google, Microsoft, and every other cloud service provider will change their model. This Yahoo decision is going to fundamentally change everything. That's what was overlooked here.
As someone who has always advocated off-site backups, this is a breakthrough. Let's just hope Yahoo allocates the upstream bandwidth to make it practical. If any sort of choke point or limiter mucks this up, it will simply result in a lot of bad publicity.
And let's see what the other companies do in response.
Oh, of course, remember that within a year or so this capacity will not be enough. Sigh.