Cloud storage for consumers – Is yours a backup or a replica?

Posted by in Cloud

As I was going along my day, a tweet from one of my friends popped up on twitter. He has just lost a very important 23 page document to SkyDrive snafu. I am sure he invested good amount of time and effort producing it too.

Without going into what caused the issue and who was at fault (which I don’t know and don’t need to), I want to discuss along more philosophical fundamentals.

I have lost work to bad drives, dead laptops and workplace technology failures. I know how difficult it is to recover important work lost to one of those events and I empathize with my friend who lost his document to SkyDrive today.

As consumer oriented services such as SkyDrive become more popular, it also makes us an targets or own lack of proper planning. There is a good reason behind me stating this. SkyDrive, for an example, makes it very easy to have a copy of all contents of your SkyDrive on your machine by merely installing SkyDrive desktop application. The application does a great job of keeping everything in sync. And here comes the kicker. It keeps everything in SYNC.

I wanted to highlight the word sync because technology can make you think you have two copies of the content. One on your  machine and one on your SkyDrive. You can call it “Cloud is my backup”. But is it really? What if you were to delete a document on SkyDrive, will it still be on your PC? What if you deleted it from your PC, will it still be on your SkyDrive? Same can be said about corruption or accidental deletions and other unforeseen circumstances.

This is though provoking. It certainly woke me up to my own setup before it’s too late. I do trust my certain important information to cloud, but this twitter exchange with my friend caused me to ask myself this important question that while I have REPLICA of my important data in cloud, do I really have a BACKUP? What if something went wrong with SkyDrive storage? Or if I deleted something on my PC by mistake and it replicated back to SkyDrive wiping it out of existence? Am I prepared to deal with such issues?

The conclusion of this soul searching questions is to draw a clear line between backup and replica and understand the importance of each. Know whether you have a real backup of your critical data or not. While cloud services can provide you a backup, it is up to you to make sure you have planned it properly. Confusing replica with backup could mean a little inconvenience or a disaster depending on what you lost to the cloud and how much blood and sweat you put in producing that important content.

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