May 10, 2011

The cloud is looking a little wispy

The cloud, the cloud, everything will live in the cloud!

This seems to be the latest idea, web 3.0 or whatever designation we are up to. All your files, pictures, data and information can be stored on massive servers sitting in some location with low rent and electricity rates. If you store everything in the cloud, you can access it from everywhere, and worry less if your computer dies suddenly or is stolen. The device is just a portal to get to the cloud. 

Many companies have offered online backup storage for your data, but now even programs are living somewhere on the internet, rather than on your computer. Google and their many online products has even forced Microsoft to create an online version of their flagship Office suite. But like anything else, you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket. 

There have been multiple stories about failures of online systems in the past couple of weeks. 
  • "Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service crashed overnight, taking down a bunch of key web sites. Affected sites included Foursquare, Reddit, Cydia, Discovr and Scvngr."
  • "Sony confirmed personal data from over 20 million user accounts on its PlayStation network was stolen in a hacker attack last month, but said it aims to revive the network by the end of May."
  • "LASTPASS supposedly was a sanctuary from hacking: a security service that allows customers to safely store all their passwords in the cloud. However the small online password security provider has experienced a hell of its own making, to some extent, since it revealed to its client base that its database could have been hacked."
None of these affected me personally, but around the same time, a website I store my workout information on crashed. The last couple of times I tried to upload a workout, I would get a generic error message that "Something went wrong". The simplicity of the error message made me laugh, but the next time I went to the website, it was down, and a otherwise blank page read:
"Buckeye Outdoors has suffered a major outage. A series of electrical storms first knocked out the backup servers that were located at the backup up location. Then the unthinkable happened 4 days later and a second electrical storm caused an extended power outage at the datacenter where the primary Buckeye Outdoors servers are hosted."
"The current situation is pretty grimm and I'm despritly trying to recover the data that has been lost. If I am un able to recover the data I will put the application back online but right now I am holding out hope and I even might send the Hard Disks to a data recovery place."
The site is now back online, but without any of the workout information I had logged for the past two and a half years. This is the site behind the little widget that used to be on the right side of the blog that detailed my mileage for the week, month and year. I am sure only a couple of you ever looked at it, but it was a handy way to keep an eye om my progress. 

If there had to be a crash and lost data, this was the one part of my digital life where I was protected. Ever since I started using my Garmin 310xt GPS watch to track my workouts, it has sent the data to their website as well as to a program that lives on my computer. Pre-Garmin, I recorded everything in a paper training journal, and I had still maintained it, though I now see that it has been about a month since I bothered to write anything down. 

It is still a bummer because I liked certain aspects of the Buckeye Outdoors site. The web is a great place to store massive amounts of data, but I will always be a little paranoid about storing my only copy with a system or company that could suddenly fail. I am glad that my backups had backups this time around. 

No comments: