Why I don't Trust the Cloud

Engadget alerted me today to a little whoopsie with Google Mail

If you’ve got a working Gmail account, you might want to back it up every so often — as many as 500,000 Gmail users lost access to their inboxes this morn, and some of them are reporting (via Twitter and support forums) that years worth of messages, attachments and Google Chat logs had vanished by the time they were finally able to log on

Not good. Not good at all. However, my very first thought was “what the heck did you guys expect?”

If you trust your data to a third party, that third party will inevitably corrupt, trade, tittilate, lose, sell, abuse, arouse, and/or reject it. This is the natural scheme of things. You disbelieve me at your peril.

I contend that while you may read my last paragraph as the rantings of a paranoid person, I’m merely applying Henleins’s Razor: “Never ascribe to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” It only takes one person to gloriously screw up your internet life, and that person may be having a really bad day after discovering their partner in bed with their best friend, or something similar. How much do you want to trust your personal correspondence and data to the Google equivalent of a postalized employee?

I’m not a cloud-luddite, however. It has wonderful uses. I’m in the midst of a three month battle with my corporate IT to allow me access to Google Documents at work. I also use Dropbox and some other cloud-based file management applications. What I don’t do is primarily store things I will want access to later on the web. This is the great failing of Google Mail, in my opinion. I access my personal email through an IMAP server, but it is downloaded to my own PC and then backed up to an external hard drive, both of which I have personal control over. If my ISP goes poof, I will at most lose a few hours worth of email (less, actually, because there will be a resident copy on my phone). I will never have to worry about the last time I backed up my Google Mail.

So. Don’t trust the Cloud too much. You might regret it.

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