App of the (last) week: Disk Inventory X

Originally published on the Melbourne blog.

In the era of “the cloud”, it seems odd perhaps to be concerned about how much free disk space your computer has left. But there are still plenty of reasons why you might run out of disk space. In my case, my Mac laptop has a relatively small solid-state drive (SSD) and I’m one of those annoying people that decides he wants to use both Mac OS X and Windows, via Boot Camp.

So where the hell has all my disk space gone? It’s not just the fact I’ve donated 20 GB to Windows. My Documents folder is only a few gig, as I save the majority of my work related content to a office cloud server.  And my Applications folder isn’t big enough to justify the lack of space.

Enter my app of the week: Disk Inventory X.

This invaluable – free – app scans your hard drive and shows your usage in the form of a treemap. Essentially, a quick visual way of showing which files and file types are consuming space on a drive. You can home in on problem files just by hovering over them, or get an idea of whether you need to move your photo library somewhere else.

Disk Inventory X treemapAs you can see above, I’ve got a big file taking up quite a large amount of space – though clicking on it shows it’s actually my Mac’s sleep image. The last time I ran this, it showed me a large archive of old emails that I didn’t need anymore too.

Disk Inventory X works on Mac and Windows partitions, though it’s a Mac-only app, so it is helpful if you’re trying to diagnose disk issues on a Boot Camp partitions. However, there’s the similar WinDirStat if you’re a full-time Windows user.

Think it’s useful? Download Disk Inventory X here.

Live your life in the cloud with 4G

I’m barely coherent without a coffee in the mornings. So it was fortunate that I nipped over to Teacup on Thomas Street before work for a cup of coffee and a spot of BBC Breakfast with Rory Cellan Jones to talk about today’s 4G launch.

For the uninitiated, 4G (or LTE as it’s sometimes called) is the latest generation of mobile phone technology, allowing significantly faster mobile Internet connectivity. In fact, Rory’s tests this morning showed 19 Mbps and 15 MBps up, which is even better than the UK average broadband speed of 9 Mbps!

Given that more and more of our personal data is being hosted and processed in the cloud, and our increasing reliance on mobile data apps, the advent of 4G cannot come quickly enough. Fast, reliable mobile data will only increase the use of cloud technologies to store and share content. More and more of us will live our lives in the cloud.

However, as with any brand new technology, there is a cost. Users have to invest in a whole new infrastructure, with only a limited number of handsets currently supporting 4G in the UK and the small, current data tariffs don’t reflect the potential of storing your life in the cloud.

Nonetheless, this is just the start. Like 3G, ten years ago, the technology will mature and consumer choice will expand. For cloud providers like us, it’s an exciting time to step-up to the plate and continue to deliver reliable, secure infrastructure for future 4G-based uses.


Is the cloud the right fit for owner-managed businesses?

In 1919, a young man named Conrad bought a 40-room hotel in Cisco, Texas. It was a backup plan; he’d originally wanted to buy the town’s bank. The hotel did surprisingly well and, in 1925, he opened his first high-rise hotel: the Dallas Hilton, and the first hotel to bear his name.

Fast forward almost 90 years, and I’m in the Manchester Hilton: a tall, gleaming edifice that stands testament to Conrad Hilton‘s entrepreneurial spirit despite war and economic depression. It’s a building that often scrapes Manchester’s perma-cloud so perhaps for those reasons, it was an ideal place to take part in a seminar about what ‘the cloud’ can do for entrepreneurs and owner-managed businesses.

For the more cynical amongst us, it may seem surprising that in 2012, we’re still discussing what ‘the cloud’ is. Unfortunately, this is a side-effect of the term ‘cloud’ becoming the biggest buzzword since “social media”!

No more. To be honest, we got involved in this seminar because there’s so much misinformation or inaccurate content that exists about ‘cloud computing’ and saw it as a chance to set the record straight. But, perhaps more importantly, it was also a chance to sit down with some of the region’s leading entrepreneurs and answer their questions about the nature of the cloud and how it could help them grow their businesses.

And it’s not surprising that most people are confused. The cloud has been touted as the answer to everything from managing your accounts to avoiding your mother-in-law! But, as with everything, the real answer is to talk about what you’re trying to achieve and then examine whether cloud technologies can play a part.

But time-starved business owners still want a simple answer. The best I can offer is that, with a reputable cloud provider, using a cloud-based option can offer increased reliability and flexibility over traditional hosting and software delivery methods. It’s also easier to scale up resources allocated to cloud hosting and, importantly, scale down – meaning businesses that are growing rapidly can rapidly expand their technology infrastructure and also respond to seasonal demand.

It’s tempting to start with a technology – be it cloud, or physical – and design a solution around that. The thing is, a cloud solution that’s poorly put-together can end up costing more. That’s why we’d always recommend having an in-depth face-to-face conversation with whomever is hoping to provide your solution and insist it’s benchmarked against other options, as well as considering the potential for growth. This is why we’ve also put together a document: the five dangers of cloud servers. We hope helps you ask your potential providers the right questions when it comes to considering a hosting or service platform based on the cloud.

Finally, here’s a copy of the presentation that Steven delivered at the seminar yesterday morning. To be honest, it’s best done in person… but you can enjoy the hand-drawn slides anyway! You can also read a roundup of the tweets from the event below.