Author’s Note: Since the original article was written in 2008, cloud storage of information has blossomed. Unfortunately, many mobile desktop cloud storage locations have a short life. Only two of the five listed below are still in existence, Glide and eyeOS. This serves to highlight the warnings in the article below about being careful when using cloud-based storage of your data.
The proliferation of mobile desktops such as Glide, G.ho.st, eyeOS, DesktopTwo and Jooce makes it easier for computer users to move from one location to another, saving their data to a virtual computer, instead of the workstation they are using. While each of the above mobile operating systems offers different applications, Glide is the clear leader. Glide offers a full set of applications, including a word processing and a spreadsheet program. It also offers an interface that is intuitive and easy to use. Many users will enjoy the 10GB of storage offered to members.
While DesktopTwo has a clean interface, and a desktop resembling Windows, much of their system is in a Beta version and I encountered a situation wherein it hung when trying to load the virtual hard drive. EyeOS also offers a clean uncluttered appearance, with a wealth of applications. I did not care for the design and layout of either G.ho.st or Jooce, although the younger users would probably like G.ho.st’s “myspace” feel.
One of the advantages of having a virtual computer is that it offers a means to back up your flash drive data. I have misplaced or forgotten flash drives more than once, and have wished for a means to retrieve the data until the drive is located. By placing your presentations and documents in a virtual drive, you no longer have to fear that your flash drive is missing or will fail to work when you need it.
Educators will find that the virtual desktop enables them to “take their work home” without lugging everything back and forth. Students will find that they can save their projects, use applications like spreadsheets, without worrying about a flash drive, and then retrieve the project at home.
Given these advantages to virtual computer mobile operating systems, what could be the drawback? Some of the companies will not exist in a year or two, given the rapid changes in technology. The best of the systems will remain, or be absorbed by giants like Google. Other systems will fall, as so many technology-based companies have witnessed.
Why is this a concern? The failure of a company that stores your data could be catastrophic. A virtual nightmare could ensue, if you relied upon your data being present on a virtual hard drive which no longer exists. Therefore, I would carefully examine the role that these “webtops” will play in your use of technology. The leaders in the field will adapt and continue to exist, however, as the old adage states “Be careful about putting all of your eggs in one basket”, as you do not want to find that the basket and all of the eggs are missing when you need them most.