I don’t trust the cloud

Saturday, August 15th, 2009 at 03:29pm

Since StixCampNewstead I have been meaning to write a post about trusting the cloud. I did start it, but it turned into quite a long and detailed post that I never got around to completing.

It seems that every couple of weeks that something happens to compromise user data. A couple that I noted were Ma.gnolia losing their database, Bloglines being neglected after being sold, Google dropping services, Kodak chaning their terms of service, and one of the many examples of Facebook privacy issues. The one prompting this post is the recent (now reversed) decision to shutdown tr.im (a URL shortening service).

I don’t use URL shortening services very often, partly because I haven’t needed to and partly because I also don’t agree with them, but this type of action by tr.im has made me decided to setup my own. I’ll probably use one of the WordPress plugins, but Lifehacker has an article with other options.

I have all sorts of data that ranges from private data I need to keep (emails, document, financial records) to public data that I don’t care about (dents and tweets). In between is data that I care about, both private (family photos) and public (photos for competitions or that I have up on Flickr).

I have two rules:

  • If the data is private I try to store it at home (with appropriate backups) instead of on a remote service.
  • If I care about the data I make sure that it is stored at home, or if stored in the cloud I have a backup.

The first rule is why I still run my own IMAP server instead of shifting it out of the country to Google or similar. The second rule is why I still have all the originals for my photos that are on Flickr and why I have nightly cron jobs to backup this site, my delicious bookmarks, etc.

My data aside, it is interesting to see what othes are doing, and not just for their own data, but for others. One great example of this is the Archiveteam which is keeping track of services that are going down, but also steps in to try to preserve their data, as is happening with Geocities. Archiveteam is run by Jason Scott, creator of BBS: The Documentary. His blog post FUCK THE CLOUD prompted quite a reaction and now, six months later, it is still getting comments.

It isn’t just your own data that you should care about, but also any data that you rely on.

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2 Responses to “I don’t trust the cloud”

  1. I use web based services pretty heavily. Gmail being the most significant. I’ve been using Gmail since 2004 and have amassed over 75,000 emails. I like Gmail because I can just keep all my email in it and have access from anywhere. Also the search is pretty good. More than occasionally I will dig up old emails from a few years ago.

    Instead of running my own mail service to ensure I have a backup I periodically run getmail to download all mail from Google since the last time it was run. I don’t place any significance on what I have in Flickr, I don’t upload full size images anyway and have all the originals in Aperture.

    What do you use for backup of all you local data? In other words if a fire took out your house would you still have everything? By having my email in Gmail I automatically have an off-site backup. In addition to that I have a Time Machine drive that contains a live copy of my Mac. Additionally I have an Aperture vault on an external drive and my entire machine is backed up up to the “cloud” via Backblaze. Photos get the biggest backup treatment in my scheme as they are irreplaceable. Stuff like email is pretty redundant too as its on Google servers, local machine, Time Machine and Backblaze.

    I don’t think there’s much problem using web based services as long as you choose your services carefully and are aware of what you’re putting in there and how hard it is to get out.

    Wes - August 16th, 2009 at 10:48 am

  2. At the moment I am changing how I backup my data, and it will probably be the topic of a later post.

    But my current setup is that I have my data synced to another computer, photos from Windows desktop to Linux server, mail and documents from Linux server to Mac laptop, etc. That last one used to be an off-site backup, but I stopped taking my PowerBook to work quite some time ago.

    Every six months or so I make a complete backup to a hard drive that I take to work. On the same day as writing the above post I bought two external 2.5″ 320GB drives (on special) to swap between home and work on a much shorter interval, 2-3 weeks.

    One other issue I had with using Google for mail was the latency. Compared to my local IMAP server, IMAP to Google was agonisingly slow, from home, from work and from my phone. That said, I am using now using Google for contacts and calendar instead of Address Book and iCal on my Mac. Personal preference really.

    Stephen - August 17th, 2009 at 9:48 pm