The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
I love cloud computing and use it several times daily. I use a cloud-based email service. I make backups of all my files to a cloud-based service, and I’m even writing this article with a cloud-based word processor. I have written a number of times about cloud-based services, and you can read my past articles if you start at http://goo.gl/lCJ8Q.
There is one big question, however: what happens to your files when a cloud computing service disappears abruptly?
This is not an idle question. This week, Federal authorities shut down file sharing site Megaupload.com. The reason is simple: Megaupload was hosting hundreds of files that were under copyright protection, including Hollywood movies, music, and more. The site's owners had ignored warnings to "clean up their act," and now they must pay the price. The site was operational one minute and then - poof! - it was gone. Legal authorities had obtained a court order, and then asked the hosting data center to shut off the servers.
I don't blame the authorities for shutting down Megaupload. After all, it was a "bad apple" that spoiled things for many people. However, not everyone who used the site did so for illegal purposes. Many of its users were using Megaupload for perfectly legal and moral purposes, such as storing backup copies of files they had on their own computers, sharing home movies with relatives, and other perfectly legitimate purposes. What do these people do now?
In fact, any cloud-based site could disappear at any time for any number of reasons. Not only can legal authorities shut it down, but so can bankruptcy, or a fire or a tornado if the backup service itself isn't backing things up properly off-site, which strikes me as rather stupid, but it does happen. If anyone chooses to use off-site backups, it should be an online backup service that preaches to its customers about the need for off-site backups! However, low-budget backup services might not practice what they preach.
I will suggest the answer for all of these problems is simple.
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