Backing up the cloud

Yesterday Ma.gnolia had a total failure and everyone’s accounts and the data they had added became inaccessible from both the standard web interface and via the API. In December, Pownce closed down, and in January Google announced it was closing down Google Notebook, Dodgeball and Jaiku. Users are always getting used to seeing the regular appearance of twitters fail whale. With these closures and interuptions to services, can we still rely on storing vital data “in the cloud”?


Stephen Collins has the right idea and has been duplicating his bookmarks in both magnolia and delicious.  That’s something I haven’t been doing so I’ve been affected.  At this point in time I don’t know what I may have lost, probably not much as I tend to not use ma.gnolia much. But it does raise the issue about storing data “in the could”. This is now the second time in a 2 months that I’ve been burned by storing what might be considered vital data outside of my immediate control. I recently had an application for a grant that I was working on in Google Docs. I hadn’t enabled Google gears and the night before it was due my ISP had issues & I had no internet connection. It’s my own fault for not having a backup as there were many points of failure that prevented me from accessing the information I needed.

We all know that we should have a regular back up regeime for our computers – back up everything (music, documents, email etc) on to different media and store it in different locations. I think it’s time that we add in a backup regeime for our online storage as well.

  • Gmail, hotmail, Yahoo mail etc - Get your desktop email program to sync with the web application and store a copy of your web based email with your desktop email client.  Here are instructions for forwarding your Gmail or Yahoo mail to another email client.
  • WordPress – WordPress can create an XML file of your data that can be used to import into a new instance of WordPress or into another blogging service. Log in to your WordPress blog and go to Tools -> Export.
  • Flickr – As I only upload about 10% of my photos to Flickr, I still have all the originals backed up normally. To backup tags, comments and other data that has been entered directly into Flickr, use a program like FlickrEdit to backup your photos and data.
  • Twitter – Visit tweetake and select what you would like to backup. It will download a CSV file with your information (although you have to trust them with your username & password).
  • delicious – if you are using a Mac, you can type the following into the terminal and it will save an XML file with all your data into your home directory (of course change your username and password to match your account details).
    curl --user accountname:password -o Delicious.xml -O ''

These don’t cover all the services out there, and there may be some better ways of doing things, but I hope these little tips help you to keep some of your data safe while you are using “the cloud”.







2 responses to “Backing up the cloud”

  1. Thanks Paulie. Good advice.

  2. The twitterverse has also made me aware of Gmail backup. References were also made of a few online backup solutions, but as I’m worried about storing and retrieving things from the cloud, I would only go with that if I also had the same data backed up locally.