More and more companies want us storing the content we consume, not on our hard drives or phones, but in online storage lockers, commonly referred to as the “cloud”.  With the rise in popularity ( of devices( that don’t carry a robust amount of on board storage, access to cloud services for owners of these devices has become something of a necessity. The proliferation of high speed internet at home and out of the house has made these online storage lockers easier to use.  Seems like a beautiful thing: give me my data when I want it, wherever I want it. But, there remains one huge drawback: what do we do when that data is no longer “ours”?

Take Microsoft’s XBOX One( as an example. The new system does away with the normal used games model in favor of one that may keep you from sharing your favorite game with your closest friends. Up until now you’d purchase a game and were then able to resell it or loan to whomever you wished, no fuss, no muss. In an effort to profit from the used games market Microsoft will now ask users to authenticate their discs against an online profile. If that online profile has yet to purchase the game, the user may be forced to pay to use a disc he already has sitting in his possession. A new generation of gamers will be asking “I own it, but I can’t use it?”

Spotify( users are familiar with this feeling as well. The popular music steaming service allows people to create playlists and download albums to their mobile phone…..with a catch. These albums and carefully cultivated playlists go away thirty days after your last payment.  You could spend years paying to use the service and you’ll never be given the opportunity to walk away owning anything.

It isn’t limited to video games or music either. Verizon Wireless( recently released an online storage service for its customers. Text messages, photographs and other pertinent data can be uploaded to the companies servers. This is great in theory- you lose your phone or drop it in a pool, but all your important data will be there when you activate your replacement. But what if you want to leave the company? This data you hold so dear can’t be transferred between carriers without you downloading it back to your PC first.

So, how do we avoid losing access to the things we feel the need to keep? In the case of the XBOX One- vote with your dollars. In the case of music steaming services- maybe go back to buying albums. And in the case of something like what Verizon has going- your computer’s hard drive is certainly your best friend.

As internet speeds grow faster and faster cloud services are only going to get easier to use. Just be sure that this simplicity isn’t leading you down a road towards a complicated mess.