Welcome to the cloud era, a point in our history where we think it’s a great idea to let data fly away to a remote server and never touch your home computer ever again. It’s not necessarily a bad idea, but it certainly isn’t a good frame of reference. What you put into the cloud may be safer than if it were on your own devices, but that only depends on who you’re calling upon to store it. When it comes to cloud storage, one of the things you shouldn’t do is to place all your eggs in one basket. You should also take the precaution to backup the data to somewhere you can physically access. Allow me to explain why.
1: Companies (And Projects) Have a Tendency to Fail
Google has ended tons of its services in the past. From Google Buzz to Google Reader, to Google Checkout, they all went down because they either didn’t have enough users or weren’t sustainable. Projects and companies are always going to eventually take a hit and fall head-first into a chaotic void of things that “didn’t make it.” It’s the circle of life. If you didn’t back up all the stuff you had in those services, you’ve pretty much hammered nails into a coffin. That coffin is your data.
Sometimes, even highly popular services fall on the fringe. AOL used to be big. Fortunately, you still get to use AOL email and instant messaging, but that’s not always the case when a company starts pouring resources into other projects. While you can be sure that Gmail will stick around for a long time, another more competitive service may be all it takes to bring the giant down. In such a case, you might want to back up what you have there.
2: The Service You’re Using May Not Store Data Adequately
When a service provider isn’t keen on telling you how it’s storing your data, you should definitely be concerned. Any data you put into it should have a copy on a hard drive you have direct access to. When catastrophic failures (like hard drive crashes) happen over there, you will be able to brush it off like it’s no big deal. Data loss is no small issue. It happens all the time! Just look at DataLossDB (short for “Data Loss Database”). The site shows you exactly how many data loss incidents happened in the last few years. Once you see how rampant the problem is, you’ll probably think twice about entrusting your most important data to a questionable company.
Of course, there are reputable companies (like Google) that make use of strong redundancy to ensure that you’d be more likely to get struck by lightning than lose your stuff. Still, if you aren’t sure about your provider’s reputation, don’t chance it. Back it all up to your local hard drive!
3: Failure To Transfer Between Services
When you want to replace one service for another, your original (or new) provider may have some tools at your disposal to make a quick automated transition. This way, you don’t have to move anything to your computer. It just shifts from one server to another. Well, sometimes, this method fails. In a worst case scenario, your data may disappear in the process.
To prevent something like this from happening, get a local backup of everything to your computer. Don’t bother uploading the data yet. Just back it up and then try to move it to the new server using the automated tool. If it fails, don’t sweat it! You can still manually upload your backup.
By The Way… Facebook And Google Have Automated Backup!
Did you know that you can rip out a copy of everything you have from Google’s servers? It’s called Google Takeout and it will let you grab anything you want from any Google product you’re using.
Facebook has something similar. Go to “Settings” and click on “Account Settings.” In the “General” page, you’ll see the words “Download a copy of your Facebook data” at the bottom. Click the link and you’re all set. Facebook will email you a link to everything you ever posted.
The Moral Of The Story: Back Your Data Up Locally!
Sure, you use the cloud for convenience, but you also use it to maximize the integrity and security of your data. This involves your participation. By backing up data on a spare drive, you empower yourself, opening the doors to more choices. If you have something to say in this regard, please leave a comment below!