Ordinary hard drive: My files are on my hard drive.
Cloud drive: My files will ultimately be on someone else’s drive.
That’s how I differentiate between the two. The files on my local Mac will forever belong to me — and the same will apply to all other Mac users as well. Lest someone breaks in your system, your files are safe with you for life. (Or until the HD clicks into death. Yikes.)
But were you thinking of unloading your secret passwords onto, say, Dropbox? Not that I detest Dropbox — in fact, quite the opposite is true chez moi. But I don’t think a cloud drive’s a safe bet (yet) for your 50-character long banking passcode for the simple (conservative) reason that you don’t (physically) own your drive. Worst case scenario: your enemy owns the drive. (Very rare indeed — but who knows?) Now that’s going to kind of hurt…
Let’s say you’re storing files you shouldn’t. The worst thing you can do to dump it is to incinerate your Mac if it’s on your local drive. But on a cloud drive? Short of knowing which exact drive(s) your file’s on, you’d have to bring a whole data centre to their makers, and that’d be one heck of an offence.
Of course, there’s something else about cloud drives: the fact that you’d be able to travel without, say, the need for a clunky laptop (which with the iPad and the MacBook Air are no longer clunky thingies — and the 16-pound large Mac Portable was a late 1980s device just about every last soul on the planet has already forgotten about). I personally find that more comforting. The faregates chez the Beijing Subway were obviously not designed for regular Fatburger patrons, and more than once did I take a fair bit of time to clear these. Without a laptop (and with your file saved on to a cloud drive), you’d be easily be able to make it through the gates and onto a crowded subway train.
And if you were tuning into Sliding Doors, two different worlds might await you — depending on if you caught your train — or not…