When the Cloud Fails


Rattling around the blogs this morning is the cautionary tale of Nick Saber, who found himself locked out of all his Google accounts. We’ve written plenty about the benefits of backing up your data from local hard drives to the cloud, but cases like this – and this is hardly the first one I’ve seen – make me want solutions to back up from the cloud to a local or third-party repository. In the particular case of Google Apps for Domains, you should at least keep a paper copy of your account information (see the “Manage Account Information” link on your Dashboard) which will give you a PIN number to use with support. But what can you do in general?

This is a tough question, and one that’s not made any easier by the lack of standards. For email, you can always use POP to pull a copy locally, though that can make managing things harder. But what about data in Amazon S3, in your Basecamp account, on LinkedIn? There are idiosyncratic backup APIs for many services, but I’d love to see some organization with cloud work for unification in this area. It would be nice to have data redundancy become as easy as checking “back up my data to [choose service]” at signup time.



Hard drives are dirt cheap these days. Stick an external drive to your computer, back it up, and take it with you wherever you go. Better to keep your data on something you can have full control on, if you really worry about losing it.


I think the problem is one of unrealistic expectations by users. There are NO guarantees in life. Stuff happens. Please show me how you guarantee to your spouse that you will make it home safely from work or that you won’t slip and crack your skull on the bath tub? You can’t!!


It’s one guy out of many tens of millions of Google accounts? It’s unfortunate, but a lot more people lose their email to a hard drive failure every day than lose it to a Google screw up.

Comments are closed.