Should I stay or should I go now?
October 27, 2008 10:01 AM   Subscribe

I feel the need to move my computer data to the cloud, but I am... afraid. This has been troubling me for months now. I've bothered friends and family, but most of them have already switched and have no fear. But I'm an old computer dude and I've always stored my stuff within arms reach. I'm lured by Google features but, but... I guess it comes down to trust. This is emotional people! If I pay google monthly (for more space) does that imply any durability? Or am I way outta line and being too virtually materialistic?
posted by mouthnoize to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I think your fears are grounded in reality:

Yet another gullible believer has been locked out of Google...

Loren Baker, editor of Search Engine Journal, has published a pleading Open Letter to Google : Why Have You Taken Away my Google & GMail Accounts? He complains:

"Since Google has decided to take my account away from me, the nucleus of our company communications has been taken away and now is replaced by a black hole. My small business communications are now ruined until my account is reestablished.."

Google has a serious problem here, and I see no sign they are addressing it in any way.
posted by jamjam at 10:27 AM on October 27, 2008

Personally, I'm with you on this. I keep my data close by because it gives me the most flexibility. But even then, I have to pay for that privilege.

My MythTV server at home doubles as a backup host for my Macbook. With 500G of RAID 1 storage, I just use Time Machine to handle copies. Fire and forget.

I have a server colocated at a nice datacenter. It holds all my email going back years (IMAP), my music collection (stream it from anywhere), my photo galleries, my web presence, and coding projects and other such stuff. I own the server and have 24x7 access, so if I have problems with them I can just go yank the box and move it someplace else.

People are always baffled that I don't use Gmail, Google Calendar, flickr, etc etc. To me, it boils down to control. When there's a problem (rarely), I look at the logs and fix it. I don't wait for Google to propagate a fix to all 200,000 of their servers (or whatever). It's never slow because I'm (almost) the only one using it. No worries about privacy either.

Keeping it this way is a fair amount of work, but it's also a hobby for me. I offset my cost by selling hosting to friends for a nominal fee (MetaMail me if you're interested ;) ). I learn stuff. And I have a smug self-satisfaction about it. Which I'm sure annoys everyone else.
posted by autojack at 10:32 AM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anything can happen to any system, I don't care how great they are, and how backed up they are, or where or why. Companies do go out of business, when we'd least expect. Systems go down. Things happen.

All you have to do is read here on AskMeta for three days to see story after story of people who thought they were totally 'safe' in their relationship, only to find that their sweetie is into tall men in brown bear suits and it's all over now and who gets to keep the nice stainless cookware, anyways?

But this isn't a situation like that is; you can't (necessarily) back up your sweetie. You can, however, back up your data. And keep a hard-copy right at hand. At hand, which is to say right there, end of your arm.

I'm not saying don't get your head in the cloud, and your data. I'm sure it's swell. But if you're putting everything out there, all of your data, which is in many ways (or can be) your entire work life, and don't keep a local copy, maybe your head is somewhere else rather than up in the clouds, maybe your head is up somewhere else, closer, if you catch my drift.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:42 AM on October 27, 2008

You don't have to totally surrender to the cloud.... you can use Gmail, but also read the account over IMAP, giving you a local copy. I use Mobile Me's iDisk for files I need to get to anywhere, but use the iDisk sync to also have an offline copy of my files. Google calendar can be synced to Outlook or iCal, and so forth. There's probably a way to have a local copy of all your cloud-stored documents, and have both the universal access and a backup copy in case that cloud breaks up.
posted by Steve3 at 10:59 AM on October 27, 2008

You don't have to totally surrender to the cloud.... you can use Gmail, but also read the account over IMAP, giving you a local copy.

This doesn't require IMAP.

In fact, a regular old POPped copy is probably simpler and more "backup-y."
posted by rokusan at 11:30 AM on October 27, 2008

Best answer: I read an article about this recently. The author says: know where the exits are.
posted by dhruva at 11:41 AM on October 27, 2008

I think if you're worried about this, the answer is, as others are saying, put your stuff in the cloud but keep a local copy, too.

So then the question becomes, how do I maintain a local copy of everything I want to put up on whatever the service is. Of course, this is going to need a separate answer for each service, but most of the time it should be possible to do. The difficulty level may help inform your decision about whether you're ready to use that type of service yet.

It would be nice if it were easier, though--if Google somehow just let you download a dump of everything you have on their services (in formats that are relatively accessible).
posted by dixie flatline at 11:44 AM on October 27, 2008

You don't mention what you have to gain from moving the The Cloud.

Do you have anything to gain?

I use it for an off site backup, though I have an on-site backup as well. (100 Gig is hard to back up over the net in an emergency.)

I use Google Reader for RSS because it's not a critical application and I like that I can have the same updated info on my phone.

I use Google docs for a few things, but not for most of my stuff. There's just no point for my private correspondence to be on the cloud. If I'm collaborating on a doc, it goes in Google Docs.

Email: No point. My phone does pop3, and web mail had pretty poor features and is just damn slow compared to a real email application.

However as my phone becomes more capable I'll probably move more towards the cloud, but you don't have to jup off a cliff. Do it slowly, sensibly, and in ways that benefit you. Try somethign out. If it doesnt work, go back to what you were doing before.
posted by Ookseer at 2:09 PM on October 27, 2008

I only push data to services when one of two conditions are met:

1. I want the data to be available from any internet connected device.
2. I want to protect the data from a catastrophic local event (i.e. fire).

Otherwise, why bother? I have a cheap back up system. I have a 16 GB removable flash drive.
posted by brandnew at 5:15 PM on October 27, 2008

Response by poster: Wow, awesome replies - thank you all. I realize I'm not just being paranoid and I am going to stick with my local data repository plan which is to move to NAS in the next few months for the house (right now I have an internal RAID on one computer).

To Ookseer, what is compelling about the cloud is that I spend a lot of time syncing data to various locations, and I've been emotionally & intellectually locked into a windows mobile phone since it syncs most completely with the windows systems at home & work. What is daunting about the cloud is times away from a net connection.

Again, thanks for the clarity of thought! I'm gonna mark jamjam's answer as the best because that is a frightening scenario that was not anywhere on my radar.
posted by mouthnoize at 7:43 AM on October 28, 2008

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