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What Is a Digital Locker?

By Theresa Miles
Updated May 16, 2024
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A digital locker is file storage space on servers that are accessible over the Internet. The servers are owned and managed by a company that offers hard drive space to the public to store files for a fee. Centralization of the files on a remote server that is accessible over the Internet enables the user to make use of those files on any computer or device with Web access. This avoids the problem of localization, where files are stored at home or an office on a single physical hard drive that is only accessible by logging into the computer directly.

The term “digital locker” was first used by Microsoft® as a proprietary name for part of its Windows Marketplace service. At that time, it enabled customers to download purchased applications from the company's servers. A copy of the application was placed in the customer's digital locker so it could be downloaded again in the future if needed, such as when the customer upgraded to a new computer and wanted to restore his purchased applications. This service was designed to take the place of physical delivery of software in the forms of CDs and DVDs. Centralization of programs on a company-controlled server was designed to change the consumer experience, offering immediate access to software purchases via download, protection against loss or damage of a physical disc, and upgrade management.

Digital lockers are now part of cloud computing terminology. Cloud computing is the movement towards browser-based applications and off-site file storage, where programs and files are located on centralized servers managed by a technology company and are accessible from any Internet-enabled device for a fee. The digital locker is the customer's allotted space on the server where he can log in and manage his material.

There are basically two popular configurations of the digital locker. The first is multimedia-focused. It enables the storage of media files, such as songs, photos, movies, and videos, to allow customers to enjoy their entertainment files on any connected device. Companies that offer this service price it based on how much space the customer needs to store his files.

The second configuration also enables storage of regular files in addition to media files. It also stores data for personal information management, such as calendars and contacts, and syncs the information across devices. This type of digital locker can also enable document collaboration, where multiple people are assigned permission to access and edit certain files in conjunction with others.

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Discussion Comments
By summing — On Jul 16, 2011

I heard once about a project being conducted by the British Library looking into the potential of digital archives, essentially digital lockers.

Their thesis was basically this. We are now producing tons of information about ourselves in digital environments. Think of digital pictures, blog posts, Facebook messages, Tweets and all the other pieces of ourselves that we put online. At the same time are capacity to capture and store this information is increasing at an incredible rate. This means that in the future it will be possible for us to create rich and deep archives of our lives that will serve as a kin of extreme scrapbook, a record of ourselves more detailed than anything ever available.

The potential for this kind of technology is obviously huge. The researchers were looking into the social, psychological, economic and academic uses of this technology and their predictions were mostly positive. I will be watching these developments with a lot of interest. I could live on forever, no part of me ever lost or forgotten.

By jonrss — On Jul 15, 2011

The potential and benefits of digital lockers and cloud computing more generally is huge, but it also raises significant security concerns.

I'm sure we have all heard about some of the high profile security breaches that have happened on the internet in recent years. Tens of millions of people have had sensitive personal information stolen by hackers leading to huge headaches and expensive security fixes. The more information we store online the more potential there is for it to be stolen by thieves.

In most cases this is not a concern for users. Hackers don't want to steal your music files. But as the technology progresses and we begin to store more and more of our lives online on centralized servers the more the risk grows. This is a huge issue, not just a pet cause of mine. Every major company and government is worried about internet security right now. Hopefully they can get out in front of the hackers and give the rest of us some peace of mind.

By nextcorrea — On Jul 15, 2011

The concept of digital lockers is getting really big right now as most of the major internet companies have begun to introduce some kind of online storage space that is available to users.

In most cases there is a certain amount of storage that is free and beyond that users will have to pay a small fee.

I think this is a great idea. The storage fee is often way less than buying an external hard drive or additional memory, plus being able to access your files online gives users a whole new level of accessibility. I think this is an exciting new technology that will only get better in the future.

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