The center tile in buzzword bingo these days is “cloud computing.” It’s a fancy term for a return to centralized mainframes of yesteryear. It’s a simple concept, put all your files onto servers connected to the Internet so your files are available anywhere you go. Although this part of the idea is sound (so long as you’re encrypting your data before sending it out to a server you don’t control) some people use online storage as their only means of data retention. The latter part of this is the thing that will fuck you over hard.
Case in point Facebook just bought drop.io, a popular file storage and sharing site. The following notice is what is important to this post:
Drop.io is free up to 100 MB of storage, but some people pay to get more storage. Nov. 15 will be the last date when drop.io will charge users for extra storage, and those paid users will also lose all their data after Dec. 15.
Never have your data exclusively on a storage system that you do not fully control. I have friends who use Google Docs as their word processor and sole means of storage. If Google decides to shut down Google Docs that’s it, my friends’ files are gone.
I encrypt and backup my most important files to Amazon’s S3 service. The reason I utilize S3 is so I have an off site backup in case of my apartment complex burning to the ground or other unforeseen event that could destroy everything I own. Of course I also keep a local copy of every file I create (two copies actually, one of my computer and one on a backup drive) in case my Internet connection goes down, Amazon’s S3 servers hosting my data go down, or Amazon decides to terminate S3 out of the blue. The main thing I’m trying to get across here is the fact that you should never use online storage that you don’t completely control as your sole means of data retention. Always have a (preferably two) local copy of every file you create. Everybody who stored files on drop.io has a month and a half to get their data off before it’s gone forever.