The Mark Ledden Blog

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Relying on ‘The Cloud’ When The Weather Turns

angry gods

This post spawned from a conversation on Facebook between Alex and myself. Where we joked about bad weather and relying on cloud services.

As the browser becomes ever more powerful and central to our computing experience and with Internet connectivity virtually available anywhere (in some form or another) it becomes more easy to rely on services and tools hosted in the cloud. But with all of these services out of our control what do we do when they fail and let us down?

The other week I freaked out, as did much of the world, when Google Calendar went down. When everything returned back to normal I was thankful as I hadn’t lost any data but Alex told me he did loose some info from his calendar. You’d expect the might of Google to be rock solid, which is generally true, but even they have their glitches. It does make you think when more and more of what we do on a computer is actually taken away from our computer and carried out remotely.

Another case is X-Marks, the cross-platform, cross-browser bookmarking service. I particularly loved it for it’s tab sync, where I could open up tabs running on other machines. A beautiful example of what these tools can achieve. But when it was announced that the service would be shutting down because it had failed to find a suitable business model I was just as shocked as everyone else. Thankfully X-Marks has now been rescued by LastPass, which is also another example of a stellar Cloud service but the question still remains.. What can we do when these services fail us? and What measures should we have in place as backups and to protect us when they do?

Just a bit of brainfood for you all…


4 responses to “Relying on ‘The Cloud’ When The Weather Turns

  1. Alex December 27, 2010 at 12:50 am

    The most surprising revelation about losing my Google Calendar data was that, despite being on my computer, on the Google servers, and on my phone, it went down on all of them… I mean, I would have thought my phone would locally store the data, and if it went down on the servers then the copy stored on my phone would restore the lost data on the other locations. But how wrong was I!

    Technology is fantastic, when it works. When it doesn’t, I hate it. So. Much.

  2. Mark Ledden December 27, 2010 at 9:17 am

    Totally agree with you, surely the phone must store it in some form.

    I’ve even had occasions when I’m pretty sure I updated my calendar on my phone but had it disconnected from the Internet, then gone to browse my calendar on the desktop (not making any changes), and once I’ve connected my mobile, the changes had been overridden by the older version I saw on my desktop.

    This is just a sync issue but still annoying and a little mind-boggling!

  3. benshirley December 27, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Nice post Mark and one of my reservations about using google for everything. It currently hosts my calendar but is guarded by MS Outlook and iCal as they are both synced to it in a non-destructive way. Spent ages recently looking for an iPad blogging tool that would allow offline access for the very reason you mention above: what if it dies? In the middle of an epic post-write? What if critical deadline for work? May be me being a control freak but I like to have my data somewhere I can touch it!

    • Mark Ledden December 27, 2010 at 11:55 am

      That’s another point.
      When I first started using WordPress I made a few mistakes and lost some work. All because it only existed on that web page.
      Google Gears did solve some of this but now that’s gone.
      I definitely think it’s necessary to have local copies. Maybe they should all take note from Dropbox.

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