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How do you manage your personal cloud data, accounts & backup?

Given the experience of Mat Honan at Wired (who was reportedly nailed by poorly enforced security policies at Apple and Amazon), how do you manage your own personal data? What’s your cloud account and data backup strategy?

My view has been to always keep stuff in the Cloud. By that I tend to mean Google, DropBox and so on.

But what happens when someone socially engineers there way into those accounts and deletes them irrevocably?

That’s a real problem.

So do I need to start storing everything locally and managing the data backup myself?

How do you protect yourself?

And how would you react to someone logging into your Google Picasa or Flickr account and deleting (irrevocably?) 200gb of your memories?


  1. The 130GB we have in Picasa is also on two separate HDD’s. For both DR / hack-proofness and in case a better service offer comes along. I don’t see anyone with 130GB of customer data making it easy/cheap to migrate any time soon.

  2. Photos go into Graphic converter, most excellent batch manipulation software. The keepers then get saved into monthly folders for piccys and movies. File structure . Only have 1yrs worth of piccys/movies on the MBA at any time – maybe 50GB. Then open Picasa for Mac app. It scans the folders looking for new piccys, and automatically uploads them to Picasa Web Albums online, to go with the other 130+GB. Then, every week, plugging in the HDD to the MBA fires up Time Machine and syncs everything to the HDD. Repeat. I figure the chance of loosing the whole lot in one irrecoverable go is on par with being hit and crushed by a 3,000lb Tunafish. Once we get BT Infinity FTTP I’ll probably pop them into an AWS account too, if the price is right.

  3. Well, for $50 a year I have 200GB with Google. That much on Mozy will cost $391, or £250. 8 times the price? Yikes.

    Although as a result of this discussion I see the Google price for 200GB is now $120 a year, paid monthly. W-T-F?

    Thnak Christ it’s grandfathered, so I get that price for ever so long as I don’t let the credit card on file lapse.

    Mind you, at £75 a year for 200GB of priceless memories, it’s not ‘bad’.

    Is Mozy attractive right now? Not at that price. Even if Google made me pay $120 instead of $50, it’s still waaaaay cheaper than Mozy.

  4. Given the amount of Apple equipment you have, get a Time Capsule if you have not got one already.
    Then sync your iPad and iPhone to your mac over WiFi regularly, and this will get backed up to the time capsule.

    This should at least prevent massive data loss if anything goes wrong in the cloud.

    It might be a bit of effort, but how much is the data worth?

  5. My personal issue is that I rarely bother keeping stuff physically on hard disks. My view is that Amazon is a lot better at managing their infrastructure than I could ever be.

    Until someone comes along and asks Amazon for my login details, effectively gets them — and then deletes everything…

  6. That’s the bugger: yes, Cloud services are redundant-as-hell so the chance of a fire or earthquake destroying your data is nil. But there’s a user-friendly front door to gain access. If that one password is compromised, everything can be gone in seconds. Your data is potentially at risk from millions of hackers around the world.
    Contrast with physical media (Photos / HDD’s) which are only at risk from thieves in your location – yes theft or disaster can render them useless, but with simple strategies (duplicates kept in separate locations) you get around that. Copying physical photos isn’t an option, really, so a mixture of cloud + duplicate physical backups for digital stuffs covers all bases, for not much outlay or hassle, given modern integration. Our photos and movies are much more secure and critically enjoyable all the time, instantly, globally, by many relatives/friends thanks to the Cloud.

    And Google’s two-factor authentication is genius. The moment it was offered we jumped. I just wish HSBC had it instead of those stupid bloody cards.

  7. I use Dropbox for most of my docs of a non-sensitive nature (since I don’t consider it secure). All my email is in a Google Apps account.

    I then use my home NAS to take a copy of all mail from Google and run Dropbox. This machine also has backups of personal docs not in Dropbox, Photos, Videos etc from other machines.
    Everything (except videos) on this machine is backed up using SpiderOak (which keeps multiple versions of files)
    I also upload full size versions of favourite photos to flickr, google and smugmug.

  8. Follow a 3-2-1 strategy: 3 backups – 2 local, 1 remote.

    As you’re all-Apple, this is very easy. Upgrade all your machines to Mountain Lion, which permits encrypted, rotated Time Machine backups. Buy two Time Capsules.

    For remote, use a full-service backup such as CrashPlan or BackBlaze. CrashPlan is £6 a month for 6 computers (I think), and gives you access to all your files through a web interface.

    Extra bonus backups: Dropbox & iCloud.

  9. “Cloud services are redundant-as-hell so the chance of a fire or earthquake destroying your data is nil.” – It’s not nil and those aren’t the only ways to lose data. Amazon lost “some” data last year when they had a problem in one of their regional data centres.
    To paraphrase Rick : If you don’t have at least two copies of your data you’ll regret it. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life.

  10. Simon, I stand corrected. I clearly did not think before using the word ‘nil’. What I meant to say is ‘infintessimally small compared to the chances of loosing data stored locally, even in separate locations’.
    I’m sure some firms in Japan had physically separate datacentres, maybe tens of km apart, when the Tsunami hit. I’m sure some firms had physically separate datacentres, one server on the 80th floor and one in the basement of the WTC, when 9/11 happened.
    Truly catastrophic events require data to be separated by hundreds if not thousands of miles, mirrored in real-time. Of course your data still has to go in one hole at the start, and is subject to one initial mangling/splitting before being replicated. If something goes wrong there, you are stuffed, likewise any subsequent update, if snapshots are not present when you discover the error. But look at the overall risk compare dto the amount of data in the cloud – losses like Amazon’s are so newsworthy because they are so rare. What you don’t read about are the Terabytes of data lost every day (hour? minute?) due to local HDD failures / thefts / obliterations.
    I back up my data locally, but that’s probably 95% to insure against beling locked into an onerous extraction timeframe/cost should I want to shift provider. I’m under no illusion as to where the real risk of loss lies, and which backup, given the choice of just one, I’d choose 99 times out of 100.
    p.s. please do not step outside your door today, there’s a chance a 3,000lb Tunafish will crush you 😉

  11. Umm, hadn’t noticed replies…

    Well, NAS backups of Gmail, Dropbox and SpiderOak just run in the background all the time. I just have to remember to sync my desktop to NAS when I’ve done some photo importing/editing or the like. I guess I could automate this sync but it would have to be more burdensome for me to get around to it…

    To be honest if it wasn’t for photos I could probably take the desktop machine out of the equation!

    Dropbox or Google+ can automatically upload your camera phone pics.


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