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The amount of information stored on starship computers seems to be vast. Is there any indication that Starfleet ships in close enough proximity can access the nearest starbase and download/upload/access information?

I understand the convenience of storing it all locally, first, you're not sending out any signals so enemy ships can't pick them up, and second, you most likely will be in situations where you're not close enough to a starbase to make a connection.

I found this answer:

The use of a portable device for holding offline data, that is "loaded" into a computer on demand, is a pretty universal concept. This would be particularly useful if your vessel spends a lot of time at faster-than-light speeds. Cloud computing would be right out.

I disagree; there are benefits to storing information in the cloud, provided the starship is in the appropriate environment. For example, the the crew of a starship could have made a medical discovery that's beneficial and want to share the information, or they may have encountered a previously undiscovered group of hostile aliens and want to share that information with all other starships.

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    "Sharing information" is a different thing than "cloud storage." You can share without having cloud storage at all. – JRE Jul 23 at 16:19
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    one could make an argument that Memory Alpha (in-universe) is: memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Memory_Alpha – NKCampbell Jul 23 at 16:52
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    Don't know if it technically counts but the Binars used the Enterprise D computer cores as a kinda cloud storage – SpacePhoenix Jul 23 at 20:43
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    “Cloud storage” is just a buzzword for “storage on somebody’s server somewhere”, which makes this question kind of weird. Of course they have servers with data on them, and there’s no reason to think it wouldn’t all be somehow centralized. – Shamshiel Jul 23 at 21:03
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    @Shamshiel - The problem is there was never any mention of it or it was brushed off in techno babble. I don't think it's a weird question, and they're numerous benefits to cloud storage, so it's worth asking if the Federation has setup it's own cloud service for starships to access, especially given vast amount of information stored and whatever queries the starfleet crew might have. – киска Jul 23 at 22:01
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Absolutely. There's a prime example in Star Trek: Nemesis right before the climatic battle. The Enterprise is traveling through the Bassen Rift which interferes with their uplink with Starfleet for their stellar cartography operations while under warp. It also happens to affect all of their communication abilities, which leads to bad things happening.

I can also think of other references to their "uplink with Starfleet" in various episodes (but none specifically off the top of my head) which would indicate ships regularly connect to Starfleet information service APIs (or whatever goes for APIs in the future) in order to access additional data that isn't locally stored.

  • I never thought of this as cloud storage, but as a real-time update from StarFleet that gets disrupted due to interference by the nebula. – Sava Jul 23 at 17:16
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    @Sava: I mean, it probably is a bit of both. I imagine Starfleet would receive a massive amount of data as ships travel around and send countless sensor scans back home. Starfleet would need to store that somewhere central and then have a programming layer sit on top of it so that an individual ship can see where things are outside of their immediate vicinity from their own perspective as if those areas were within sensor range. None of that really works without some sort of centralized architecture, with some sort of replication and regional routing scheme built in. – Ellesedil Jul 23 at 17:23
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It's highly unlikely that StarFleet and the Federation would use cloud storage, for several reasons:

  • Cloud storage is only useful when you're in range of the network, and would be pretty useless for ships going out into unexplored regions of space, thus out of range of the network, for years.
  • StarFleet vessels have on board computer with an enormous storage capacity. While the measurement units used on the shows are not using today's units, and are at times incoherent in-universe (Voyager seemed to have storage capacity several orders of magnitude above that of Picard's Enterprise), it is heavily implied that they can easily store vast amount of information. A Galaxy-class carried three computer cores to handle on-board functions and store information, one of which was enough to operate the ship, and the main core was several levels high.
  • The Federation territory is criss-crossed by a network of relay stations able to handle a vast amount of communication and data exchange at the same time, like Relay Station 47. (TNG S06E13 'Aquiel')
  • Subspace communication is capable of near-instantaneous transfer of vast amount of information through space, enabling real-time communication throughout Federation space and the exchange of vast amount of data in a short time. We can see it in Voyager when the Doctor is transmitted to the Prometheus via the alien relay network (VOY S04E14 'Message in a bottle'), or, later one, when the Doctor's holonovel is sent to Federation space via the temporary artificial wormhole created by The Pathfinder Project (VOY S07E20 'Author, Author').
  • Your first bullet and fourth bullet contradict each other. In fact, your fourth bullet point on supspace communication would enable data access to cloud storage. Additionally, there are on-screen examples of what appears to be data access that is dependent on external services with centralized Starfleet resources (ie: Starfleet's cloud) that fail when there is some kind of hazard or other interference. – Ellesedil Jul 23 at 17:15
  • I've always seen those as a disruption of real-time update from StarFleet Command or another external source, rather than some kind of cloud storage. – Sava Jul 23 at 17:21

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