Since the advent of computer networks, there has been a longstanding problem: the rate at which we can create and store data has always exceeded the rate at which the network can transfer it. Back when hard drive space was measured in megabytes, it would take days to transfer the contents of the hard drive, even over a fast connection. These days, when hard drive space is measured in terabytes, it still takes days to transfer the same generic desktop drive over a speedy connection.
This persistent situation gave rise to the concept of a sneakernet—named after the sneakers you wear while using it—physically carrying data from one location to another in order to work around the low throughput of the network. Any time you’ve copied a bunch of files to a flash drive and carried them to another computer (rather than wait for a network transfer) or loaded up a hard disk with data and mailed it somewhere, you’ve engaged in a sneakernet.
As network technology improves, sneakernets are becoming less the province of home users (who now enjoy broadband capable of meeting their needs) and more the province of large companies. Amazon, for example, now offers two services called “AWS Snowball” and “AWS Snowmobile”. “AWS Snowball” is a 50 pound (23 kilogram), 50 terabyte device for transporting data to the Amazon Web Services cloud and “AWS Snowmobile” is a truck capable of transporting up to 100 petabytes of data in one load; two processes that beat any old Internet connection, hands down.