In Google We Trust?

Google Reader
Google Reader

Back in October 2009, I wrote a somewhat curmudgeonly post about how little I trust the ‘cloud’ for my important data. I like to control my own information. I like to know how my backups are executed and how they are stored. The major Internet service companies are pretty good about avoiding data loss, but I can’t trust them to be half as concerned about my stuff as I am.

After that 2009 post, I did slowly begin integrating ‘cloud’ services into my tech world. Since switching to Google Android as my mobile operating system, I embraced many Google services—Gmail, Calendar, Drive, and Reader. With my Windows 8 installs and Office365 subscription, I’ve also begun to adopt Microsoft’s SkyDrive service for ‘cloud’ storage, documents, and notes. I use Amazon’s Kindle services, ToodleDo todos, and miscellaneous other web-based applications.

But don’t think that I’ve stopped being paranoid! I back up my data from every last one of those services on a regular schedule. If a cloud service doesn’t provide some mechanism for back ups in standard, portable formats, I won’t use it. This process has come in very handy recently. With Google’s announcement that it was shutting down the Reader RSS service in July, I found myself needing to move a long list of RSS subscriptions to another service. I used Reader, in part, because it provided ways to export my subscriptions in an industry standard OPML format, and it had reasonably robust API’s for integrating with other services. As such, it was pretty painless to move to Newsblur—the Reader alternative that best met my needs.

Reader’s demise should serve as a reminder to all ‘cloud’ service users: Don’t trust the ‘cloud.’ Don’t trust Google. Don’t trust Microsoft. Don’t trust Apple. Don’t trust anybody to provide a permanent home for your data, because the service you rely on today might be gone tomorrow. It is incumbent on us, the users, to only use services that allow for data portability, and to make our own regular back ups. The only person who really cares about your data is you.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.