Posted by: nickgerlich | November 4, 2007

Lock Box

We have come so far in such little time. Imagine 15 years ago having the discussions we have been having this week. Services like Google and Zoho. Personal computers like Zonbu and their cell phone-like service contract. And now a permanent storage site like Carbonite rounds out my trilogy of newfangled products and services this week that are busily reshaping the way we live and work.

CarboniteI have been harping for several years now that we needed a place to safely store everything…not just an external hard drive (which, as some Southern Californians now painfully know, will burn in the same fire as your computer and house). No, we need off-site storage for all of our digital possessions.

I have often complained that I needed a central repository for my passwords, as well. Sure, I might forget one from time to time (who hasn’t?) but imagine the problems your heirs would have trying to pick their way into every site at which you have an account. Off-site storage allows users the ability to store this precious information, and then leave a “keychain” in a will or perhaps fireproof safe with a master username and password that your executor would have access to after your final gasp.

Carbonite’s service is essentially a perpetual online backup, while others like Mozy, XDrive, and MediaMax provide varying twists in online storage, starting at about $50 a year. They are all scalable to meet your needs, so docs and photos can be stored ad infinitum.

About all that is missing is a Zonbu plan for laptops, as well as ubiquitous wifi (but Google and Sprint are both working on their respective versions…one free, the other paid). That “cloud” I have written about recently is building, and soon we will be able to work anywhere and access anything, because our data cloud will be following us everywhere.

I love how all these ideas come together. I am sick of lugging portable hard drives in my backpack along with the dead weight of my laptop. And I know Im going to lose one of those pesky flash drives one of these days. I would much rather just fire up a cheap laptop somewhere and have access to everything…in Texas, Las Vegas, Florida, wherever, and have a toll-free number to call in case it all comes crashing down. Even then, all I would need to do in the interim is find a FedEx Kinkos to rent a computer for an hour or two.

There is a downside, of course. People often tell me that I have a great job, being able to travel a lot, and somehow assuming (wrongly) that I must have 20-24 hours of free time every day. I am quick to remind them of this sobering good news/bad news observation: The good news is I get to take my work with me. The bad news is I get to take my work with me.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I just hope my wife doesn’t need to wade through all those passwords any time soon, though. I’m afraid she would be cursing my previous existence. Give me a few more years, please, to try to whittle this all down to a manageable size.

Dr “Silver Lining” Gerlich



  1. Dear Dr. Gerlich: I’m Carbonite’s CEO. Thanks for mentioning Carbonite in your blog. I’m glad you’re moving online, especially if you’ve been traveling with external hard drives – seems very dangerous to me. You probably saw the recent news story about Francis Ford Coppola. He’s living in Argentina right now and someone broke in and stole his PC AND his external backup drive. He lost 15 years of photos and writing. I heard he’s offering $100k reward for its return. That would buy 2,000 years of Carbonite subscriptions!

    – Dave

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