A personal server for everyone

Jeff Jarvis writes about having a place for all of his digital stuff. He goes on to say:

: I want a place on the Internet where I can store all my stuff so I can get to it from anywhere on any device to consume, modify, store, or share. This stuff could be anything -- my movies, music, to-do lists, shopping lists (for the family to update), contacts, documents, search history, bookmarks, photos, preferences, voicemail, anything, everything. And it should come with the functionality necessary to execute all those verbs I listed (e.g., a nice little list-making ap).
I want the ultimate -- in the words of George Carlin -- place for my stuff.
Count on this: It will be a big consumer business. I said below, in the middle of another post, that this could come from phone or cable companies, from Google or Microsoft or Yahoo, or from a new company (VCs: pay attention!). A server for everyone and everyone on a server.

I totally agree with Jeff about having a place to store all of my stuff, but I am not sure if I want it all stored on the Internet. Rather I want it stored at home on my personal server but accessible through the Internet 24x7. As you know there is a battle that has begun over the ownership of the home networking market. Lots of companies are jockeying for position to be the digital entertainment hub for the home. Will the hub or personal server be the PC, your Tivo or cable box, or some other consumer electronic device? As more and more of my precious data is in digital format, I have become incredibly paranoid about backup and recovery. Currently I am using a Maxtor 250gb One Touch device to back up all of my files. This is nice, but wouldn't it be great if I could put an IP address on it and layer some other applications to share this data with others? Why do I need it hosted at Yahoo or some other web-based service when I can easily plug in a device and have my stuff accessible at 54mb over my home network and remotely over the web? I used to believe that the hosted model was the way to go for the backup market, but increasingly I am of the belief that everyone will have their own personal server at home and through a broadband connection be able to access and share their files with anyone in their trusted network. This takes care of privacy and security issues for me while also allowing me to have my stuff accessible from anywhere. Take a look at Mirra which offers a plug and play personal server that backs up all of your files and then allows you to share them or remotely access them through a browser. The Mirra can't do it all but is certainly a giant step in the right direction. The consumer electronics space is a tough VC investment (see an earlier post) but the Mirra is a pretty cool device.

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2 Responses to “A personal server for everyone”

  1. Jeff Jarvis Jun 12, 2004 at 8:10 pm #

    Ed: Good post. I think that personal in-house servers will be for early adopters and will scare most (technical difficulty; investment…).
    Full disclosure, of course, is that i work with a cable company and so I see benefit in services in the cloud or at the headend. But they do bring ultimate consumer ease and portability and upgradeability (though that’s not a word).

  2. Brendon J. Wilson Jun 12, 2004 at 9:57 pm #

    I think the barrier here, besides the hardware requirements (and the ease-of-use hurdles that must be overcome), is the state of current broadband in the States.

    I just moved down to Silicon Valley from Vancouver, Canada, and have been shocked by the quality of digital services such as broadband and cellphone coverage here. In Vancouver, I had a fiber connection, unlimited upload and download capacity, for thirty dollars. Canadian.

    Contrast that with my experience in Silicon Valley – I have connection with Verizon that costs thirty dollars US, that restricts me to 1GB of upload capacity and 5GB of download capacity. I haven’t yet attempted to exceed the capacity (I don’t relish the thought of getting cut off). The Terms of Service for Verizon are draconian, and specifically restrict users from running a server of their own. This is ridiculous. It’s like the phone company restricting which phone conversations I can have on my phone.

    In Vancouver, I ran a server of my own from my apartment to provide instant access to data, a personal electronic library, my mail server and my web server. Now I run all of that from a hosted service for eight dollars a month. Verizon’s loss.

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