Desktop or Cloud? What Do You Prefer?

I think one of the primary reasons behind web based tools and services not gaining prominence in the early years of internet was due to the fact that there was only one major browser – Internet Explorer. IE had more than 90-95% of market share at that time. But many developers never liked the browser.

The introduction of Firefox around 6 years back, the rise of Google and the subsequent web 2.0 era  has assured people that “the cloud”  is the future. As a result, today we can find solid web-based alternatives for almost any desktop program out there.

There’s even a cloud-based operating system by Google, called Chromium, in the works.

But are we comfortable with staying in the cloud most of the time? Do you love using online tools more often, or do you think their desktop counterparts are more efficient?

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Abhijeet Mukherjee is the editor of Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes in-depth articles and tutorials on all things tech, including mobile news and tutorials. He's been into web working since 2008 and continues to enjoy each day of it. He loves to interact with people so hit him up on Twitter.


  1. Thera on the 6th July

    I don’t mind open-ended question type of articles, but that’s already the 4th just for the front page :/

    • Paul W. on the 6th July


  2. Joe on the 6th July

    Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t I have a desktop app that syncs with the cloud, for when I want to be offline, while still being able to pop on any pc with a browser, and access my data?

  3. Paul W. on the 6th July

    I use a cloud based invoicing and time tracking package. I prefer it over a desktop solution because our remotely located users and our clients can easily access the information. My only gripe so far is that the customization options seem to be lacking in comparison to some desktop software I have used.

  4. Tom on the 6th July

    Unless there’s a need for having access to a software from multiple machines and/or on-the-go I see no sense at all in cloud apps, at least not as a replacement for desktop apps. They might work as a supplement to desktop apps, but I wouldn’t want to rely solely on GMail, Google Docs, 37signals’ apps or any cloud backup solution.

    Cloud apps have advantages for those who need certain apps wherever they go, no matter what machine they’re on, or for those who actually supply them, because deploying and maintaining an SaaS app has advantages over desktop apps. But if you’re on a single machine 80%+ of the time I believe you shouldn’t rely on the cloud as there’s little upside but lots of downside (security, performance, availability, licensing, support, …).

  5. Rasmus P. on the 6th July

    I only use those cloud app’s that syncs with my already installed desktop app.

    Such as dropbox. I primarily use dropbox from my desktop, and then when im outta town i use the cloud from the webpage.

    Other than that i see no point in using a cloud app if your a singe person. Much like Tom said.

  6. I am not comfortable with Cloud Computing. Yeah I do most of the work on the browser, but I still need the pc to do lots of other stuff!

    Did you hear about the printer support in Chrome OS?

    It won’t have legacy printer support!

    Meaning you will have to go to the web, send a command somehow just to print to a printer sitting next to your pc!


  7. Ashley Hill on the 6th July

    I use both. I use Gmail and calendar and contacts to sync my computer and my phone, but I still keep the majority of documents safely on my computer.

    While cloud computing is a great idea for people who travel a lot or have lots of computers to keep track of, my singular laptop is good enough.

    I don’t mind the security side of it too much, so having email etc online is helpful if I’m on my phone or someone else’s computer.

  8. Kaishin on the 6th July

    Desktop with optional and selective cloud-syncing.

  9. Brad on the 7th July

    I generally like to keep things local on my computer. However I do use the cloud for documents I might need to access from a different computer on MobileMe. Same goes for my calendar (Yahoo! synced with iCal) and my address book.

  10. jiewmeng on the 8th July

    i was recently looking for cloud based software, data that can be accessed anywhere is a big plus, integration with blog software/portfolio/project management seems like good candidates for cloud based software.

    the good is data is accessible from anywhere. cloud service company will handle backups (hopefully reliable enough). no need to install.

    disadvantages are reliance on internet connection, this is getting fixed with HTML5 Offline Webapps capability, extend of this is unknown tho. i think if your app requires alot of requests from web server, this still does not help much. cache on local storage may not be updated if data is regularly updated. performance maybe an issue, and integration with OS is limited. i like Windows 7 taskbar thumbnails and jump lists etc, helps workflow/productivity

    i think somekind of desktop middleware is still the way to go. local cache/sync and OS integration. with option for mobile only web interface

  11. Jens P. Berget on the 8th July

    I’m using a lot more online tools now than I did a few months ago, but I’m still using many desktop tools. I backup most of what I write using MobileMe though.

    I try to use cloud for things that I need access to from everywhere, like email, calendar and documents.

  12. Sam on the 8th July

    As an IT Manager, I love the idea of cloud. My main reason simply being that pretty much all software in my field of work (medical industry) is known to be dependent on old technology and is almost always prone to frustrating technical issues/bugs dealing with remote access. I have looked at a few cloud based solutions, but ultimately chose not to use them given that the main benefit can also be its biggest downfall – the data isn’t local.

    Now if only these companies who create medical software can be more inclined to create non-bloated, technology conforming software.

  13. Bryan on the 12th July

    Cloud systems / apps have appeal, but have never really satisfied my expectations as a user. However, I do appreciate the combination of desktop app with sync capabilities to a cloud environment for when I need to access my data from another location or as a backup. I expect that one day they will perfect the cloud experience, but for the time being—there’s nothing quite like the desktop work environment and local file management.

  14. Math on the 18th July

    Cloud computing is going to be the future. With online backup and sync services your online hard drive is ready. I don’t see any difference between local file management and online file management. Now all you need is an working environment in the cloud. There are plenty of SaaS vendors available in the market who will give you services based on the type you want to access and use. Online office services like zoho,google docs will give you rich features and experience which is very similar to MS-Office. You have online music players,online games,online image editing softwares and what else you want. Except you are a professional who need specific s/w to make your life running, almost every need is being addressed in the cloud. Thanks to services like zoho,skype,google docs and dropbox.

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