Storage room

16 September 2016

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WE HAVE gone from mobile phones the size of bricks to mobile devices the size of credit cards that do everything you can think of. This poses a problem with storage.

It is all well and good putting your entire music collection, and all your photo albums, emails, and working documents on your mobile device; but, if you are a serious music collector, or take photos, or produce documents, you can run into difficulty with a lack of storage space.

Apple’s iPhone comes in three sizes: 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB; but, last week, it announced that it would replace its entry-level 16GB model with a minimum 32GB on its new iPhone 7; it is also doubling capacity on the largest iPhone, to 256GB.

Android mobiles and tablets tend to come with smaller capacities, but they can be expanded through the use of microSD cards, typically from 32GB to 128GB.

But this comes with its own issues: first, Android does not like external storage, and will try to insist on storing data and apps on the phone. Second, there are data-security issues: there is no point in locking your phone to protect your data if somebody can access your documents by simply removing the memory card.

To solve this, apps such as AppMgr III, by Sam Lu, come in useful. This analyses the apps on your device, and lets you know which can be moved from the device’s memory to the external storage card. AppMgr III takes you to the app’s settings page, from where you can complete the move yourself. This is an Android security feature; but it is still quicker than going to each app’s settings page manually.

Another solution to increasing the capacity of your mobile device is to store documents and photos in “the cloud” rather than on the device. At this point, I’d like to confess my hatred for the phrase “the cloud”. It is designed to symbolise the storage of data “out there somewhere” and accessible wherever you are. But it isn’t. Documents are stored on the hard disks of commercial companies. Apple offers the iCloud; Microsoft provides the OneDrive; and Google has the eponymous Google Drive.

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All three offer free basic-level services, with additional capacity free for users of certain devices: for example, PC-users get 2GB of OneDrive storage free with Windows 10; and subscribers to the Office 365 software suite (Apps, 15 May 2015) receive a huge 1TB of OneDrive storage.

Apple and Google offer similar incentive-based free storage; and all three companies provide the ability to buy extra space if required.

Such cloud-storage devices are useful for back-ups and for temporary storage of documents that you want to access on different devices; but it is unwise to rely on third-party companies to store valuable documents.

Storing documents in the cloud is fine, but you need an internet connection to download them. This is less of a problem if you set the apps to sync documents from the cloud to your device automatically — but doing that negates the benefits of off-device storage.

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