Dangers of cloud computing

T-Mobile SidekickHaving our data in “the cloud” (a.k.a. the internet) is extremely convenient. If you have your email in Yahoo, your photos on Flickr and your documents on Google Docs, you don’t have to worry about carrying a laptop or an external hard drive to access your data when you’re away from home. You’re free to access your data from any computer with internet access.

But there are big dangers. The folks that host your data might not be as trustworthy as you thought:

Danger, Inc., now a subsidiary of Microsoft, makes the [T-Mobile] Sidekick and its platform, and users’ e-mail and other phone data reside on Danger’s servers. Or, well, it did, until something went horribly wrong last week. It turns out that all Sidekick users’ data is lost if it has not been saved on the handset and backed up.

The problem isn’t just Microsoft, Apple is blundering as well. Apple’s MobileMe service stores your address book (along with other personal data) on their servers so you can access it from multiple Mac computers. Apple's MobileMeUnfortunately, it appears that Apple is accidentally sharing address book data from other people’s accounts.

The lesson: Big companies can lose your data too, so be sure to make independent backups of important data. Also, your data’s security could be compromised. If you have anything that absolutely needs to be secret, you should probably keep it off the internet.

2 Comments

  1. Sheepywoman

    So Chris, tell me, how long does it take to back something up to the “cloud”? And why would one continue to backup on a monthly basis if it’s not safe?

  2. Jordan

    I think Chris meant have a backup up to your own preferred backing-up device such as an external hard drive. I think the question also harkens back to the old “What if you Gmail account was deleted for some reason?”. As it stands now, it’s nearly impossible to get it back. You could lose all that information because some sys admin somewhere thought you were a spammer.