Today, it is common to save documents, photos, or videos in what we call the cloud. Cloud storage is so integrated that sometimes we do not know if we have something stored on our phone, on our computer, or if it is hosted on a Google Drive, Dropbox, or Movistar Cloud server. It does not matter, because it is everywhere, always available.
The cloud has been a blessing for those of us who work with different devices. No more having to move files from one place to another, make copies, carry USB sticks, external drives, or SD cards. Cloud storage makes it easy for us to save content online and share it with whoever we want.
But although we are used to it, services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Movistar Cloud have little between us. However, everything is going very fast on the Internet and as soon as we adopt a new technology we do not remember how we could live without it.
From physical format to FTP
Older veterans will remember the tapes and diskettes. The physical format was the only one available to store information and share it from one computer to another. 8 or 5-inch floppy disks that stored tens or hundreds of kilobytes to the 3.5-inch floppy disk, which stored 1.44 MB. Then came the optical disc or CD (700 MB), followed by the DVD (4.7 GB).
In parallel, Flash memories managed to store information on a device that could fit in your hand and you could connect to the computer via USB. Not to mention the SD cards, popularized by digital cameras and video cameras, and external drives, today from 2 TB onwards.
But the first precursor to cloud storage is FTP. A protocol that was born in the 70s of the last century and facilitates the task of storing, sharing, and obtaining files between computers. From a server to a client. He also contributed to the development of the World Wide Web. Its popularity only waned with the advent of cloud storage. Until then, there were even those who had their own home FTP server thanks to NAS storage systems or with a simple computer connected all day.
Today the FTP protocol is still used to access the content of other computers, as a private cloud. However, there are alternatives such as SSH, SCP, Samba, or WebDAV that also allow access to folders and files remotely, through the Internet.
CompuServe changes everything in cloud storage
What we know today as cloud storage is related to what we call cloud computing. While online file storage is an evolution of FTP in which the user can comfortably access their files from the browser or from dedicated applications, cloud computing represented the leap from computing to the cloud. That is, accessing software, hardware, and files that are miles away.
At first, cloud computing in the late 20th century was limited to web hosting. Moreover, technically it was born in parallel to the Internet when the first ARPANET network was created in the 1960s. The fact is that over the years came web applications, virtual desktops, online databases, and a long etcetera that takes us to the present day. Today, for example, thanks to the cloud we can access servers and even virtual machines and remote computers.
But for the first Internet users, cloud storage was born in 1983 with CompuServe. Their customers had access to the Internet, newsgroups, and shared disk space to fill with files. However, at that time few were those who had access to the Internet.
It was not until the 21st century that services such as SmugMug (2002) or Flickr (2004), specialized in images, emerged. Also, Box (2005) or the more popular Dropbox (2007), which supported all types of files. The latter popularized cloud storage for the home audience, since most of the alternatives, were focused on the professional user. As an example, AWS S3 from Amazon (2006).
Still, the first few services were pretty rudimentary, from our perspective. Smartphones and mobile applications were yet to arrive. At first, accessing the service was limited to opening it in the browser with interfaces very close to FTP.