I’m a huge believer in cloud computing. We use several tools that keep our data accessible anywhere the web is, and it works rather well for us. Except when it doesn’t.
Recently, Amazon Web Services had a huge outage. One of the products I use, Springpad, has been offline for two days. Another product I love, Hootsuite (affiliate link), also had a bad day (but finally restored). In a lot of cases, these outages left people in a rough spot, but in my estimation, it’s because the tools weren’t used as developers might have intended them to be used.
Simply, Back Up
Now, this isn’t always easy. Springpad only recently released a form of backup for its online note-taking system. They don’t (yet) have a desktop app like Evernote, so if your data was lost in the clouds, it’s still locked up. But, if you’re going to put really important data somewhere that you can’t access without the Internet, you should really keep the same information backed up somewhere locally, either on your computer, or at least on a hard drive.
You can’t back up everything, but you can back up lots of things. I use Google Apps for my calendar (backed up into Apple’s iCal). I use Google Apps for my mail (I have other accounts on other services, and use Apple’s Mail to download copies of my inbox). I use Google Docs for my documents. I don’t back them up enough, but I *could*. (If someone invented a one-touch g-docs backup that worked with Google Apps, I’d buy).
And as for your notes? Keep those backed up, too.
The Cloud Isn’t Evil. It’s Just Not Perfect
People who know that I love cloud computing and have really pushed it for years came at me with a “nyah nyah” attitude when this big outage cripped quite a bunch of popular Web 2.0 sites. I don’t think any less of cloud computing, though I was every bit as frustrated when some of my favorite services went offline. Instead, I just realized how much LESS suffering and annoyance I have to go through by using cloud apps versus most local or server-side applications.
I’m grateful that other people maintain the computing power these days. It’s akin to not having to generate my own electricity to charge my cell phone. It’s a plus. When it works well.
And what it doesn’t? Back up.