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The Broadband Joke

I subscribe to the fastest broadband my home is capable of receiving. I've got 35GB of pictures that I want to protect offsite, so I've subscribed to the excellent Dropbox service which I already use for smaller documents. My pictures are now 'syncing' with Dropbox. It will, according to my computer, take another 14 days for all of them to be safely delivered into my Dropbox account . But that's if I leave it chugging away 24/7, which I won't. I turn the back-up sync on at night when no-one is using the internet, so it's only working for a maximum of 8 hours a day (assuming I remember to turn it on). So that's 52 days it's going to take to load my pictures., and it's costing me $99 a year for my 100GB of extra Dropbox space (you get 2GB free).

Alternatively I could have burned some DVDs and put them in the garden shed. Under the circumstances this would have been far faster and less expensive.Walking to my shed takes about 30 seconds. That's a bit-rate of 8.5Gbps, or 8,500 times faster than my current 'broadband' speed, for the price of a few disks, say £20 pa, and a shed, which I've already got. The internet service is also far less reliable - unless its raining or mice eat the DVDs, and there is an issue of disk decay. Few people realise that digital optical disks have a life expectancy of only 2 to 5 years - as advised by the US Government Archive Agency (other useful bits in their FAQ include the difference between types of disks and how long blank disks last). So I would need to repeat the full back up every 2 years for safety.

I also need to factor in the potential disappearance not only of my internet connection (a monthly occurrence), and the rather higher potential of Dropbox exiting existence. Remember Dot.Bomb? How catastrophic would the loss of any of these cloud services we've quickly come to rely on, be? We've already seen what happens when a bank's systems go down. Don't think about it. Have faith (did I say that?... the atheist recommends blind faith).

But global disaster apart, I'm paying an additional £40 per year just to be lazy, and getting a far slower and less reliable service into the bargain. Having reached this conclusion, the sensible chap would cancel Dropbox and buy some DVDs. But I've admitted I'm lazy. Inertia wins. Can you just imagine how much hassle it would be to prevent Dropbox from getting paid every year, let alone get my money back for the current year - presuming I'm still in some sort of cooling off period. Take the bloody money, I'll live with the byte-crawl.

One day proper broadband may reach even my corner of the wealthiest and most populous county in this G8 "developed" (allegedly) nation - although by then I'll probably own a camera that shoots 20Mb pictures, I'll want all my movies stored online, and my kids will be streaming multi-channel HD-porn and games into the house day and night. Perhaps I'd better check out that shed after all. Maybe I could buy a waterproof conveyor belt... Wonder if they make mouse-resistant disks.


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