Last weekend my internet service conked out (slow to no speeds, high packet loss, etc). After an hour on the phone with tech support, they determined the problem was their router modem which could be swapped out by a service technician within a couple of days. The last time that happened was almost a year ago and I cancelled the service appointment because after a day of sporadic performance, the internet service came back as if nothing had happened.
Where was the problem? Apparently, not the router modem because this time the same issue brought about the same result. After a day, everything returned to normal. That tells me the poor connectivity problem probably was upstream somewhere and got fixed somehow.
Being without an internet connection is less of an issue these days because, while mine was down for a day, I just used my iPhone’s hotspot to keep the Macs running over the weekend. Once everything came back online I ran into another problem; one that occurs more frequently. iCloud disappeared.
One reason I keep Dropbox on all my devices is because iCloud, though priced about right and competitive with other services from Google, Microsoft, et al, is not exactly dependable. It’s like iCloud email. It’s there. It works. But you cannot depend on it to be there and work all the time.
I checked online and sure enough, other Mac, iPhone, and iPad users had iCloud problems. A day later, and all was well, all devices had synchronized files again, and life was normal.
Whereby normal means that period between outages and crashes.
iCloud, Dropbox, et al are merely elements of what we call the cloud, or cloud storage, or cloud computing. Apple may have most of its iCloud customers on their own server farms these days, but just a few years ago Apple’s cloud consisted of a hodge-podge of Google storage, Amazon storage, IBM storage, and even Microsoft cloud storage.
Obviously, putting one billion customers on such a mashup of disparate services means frequent problems over time, and Apple’s cloud services did not then have a good reputation for stability.
Still, we have come to depend upon the cloud and our internet connections to the point that when either goes down, even briefly, work and play comes to a halt. Apple is one of the world’s most recognized brands and often cited as the company that leads the technology industry. Maybe so, maybe not, but Apple remains dependent upon many others to maintain services to more than a billion customers, and provide the components for each device it sells.
What happens when the cloud crashes is much the same as when internet access is disrupted, or a Mac or iPhone freezes up and becomes unresponsive, and reminds me of a few times when plumbing in our building stopped, or the water line was cut. Life changed for awhile and it wasn’t pleasant.
I know, first world problems, right?