In an age when virtual computing, cloud server technology, netbooks, and web-based apps control a huge share of the startup economy, this team has decided to pitch consumers on owning, storing, and running all their applications and data from their own desktops. The Tonido product is a suite of P2P apps ranging from music- and file-sharing programs to thorough workspace software, none of which require users to be online. Tonido is also selling consumers their own miniature home servers at around $100 a pop. Is this the new price to pay for open-source, cross-platform application use and data security? For privacy freaks, it sounds like a good deal. What about the rest of us?
A mixed bag of personal preference, Tonido's list of features and benefits recall the doctrines of right-wing states' rights advocates: "We firmly believe that a handful of companies controlling everybody's data is not healthy in the long-term and could lead to serious privacy issues and reduced freedoms," the site reads.
In a blog post from Dallas, Texas-based software startup CodeLathe, the company behind Tonido, the author writes, "The current trend belies the logic and natural order of things. On one side, computers are getting powerful and personal storage devices are getting cheaper. But still we are turning the custody of our data to profit seeking entities whose market valuation is dependent on how much customer data they have in their server and how much value they can get from customers' data."
The morality and overarching commercial and social value of anonymized user data aside, the perks of running Tonido are obvious: Your data never gets shuffled across another entity's servers. For privacy as well as data ownership, this is a good thing. And the software suite, an open-source project, is absolutely free to download.
But although the site promises that Tonido will "release your computer's untapped potential," one of the greatest reasons for running apps on the web and storing files in the cloud is freeing a system's resources in the first place. Moving online functions to an online platform has led to underwhelming or completely disastrous results in recent years, particularly in the cases of Opera's Unite and Joost.
Another concern Tonido raises is backing up data. For cloud services, backing up online information, such as blog posts and photos, has become something of a hot topic in a way that backing up personal computer files never was. But how does Tonido rectify the situation? Data stored on a personal machine is susceptible to hardware failures just as data stored on a web service is subject to the success or failure of that company.
Data stored on Tonido apps isn't indexed by search engines; for many people and entities, such as myself,this is hardly a benefit.
Also, unlike something as universal as email or as nearly universal as iTunes or Microsoft Word, Tonido requires all sharing parties to download and run Tonido. And the Tonido suite of applications is still limited.
So, although the apps look good and cost nothing, users have to trade a lot of convenience for a modicum of data security. Whether or not Tonido is worth the trade-off is up to users to decide, but trends over the past several years give no cause for optimism.