Backing Up Your Social Media


Of course, we are all told to eat our veg­eta­bles, do our exer­cise, and back­up our com­put­ers.

But I’m here today to tell you to back­up your social media pres­ence. If you are like me, you have pic­tures of fam­i­ly on Face­book, Flickr, and else­where, so have e‑mail in G‑mail, you tweet, and maybe you have a blog. How can you ensure that you nev­er lose a major com­po­nent of your life in the cloud and in social media?

Let me tell you a sto­ry. Mir­co Wil­helm, a tech­nol­o­gist and user of Flickr, with approx­i­mate­ly 5 years of images (5,000) up in Flickr in a paid Flick­r­Pro account, com­plained about inap­pro­pri­ate re-use of his pho­tos. Instead of dis­abling the account in ques­tion, the sup­port engi­neer delet­ed Mir­co’s acount, with all of the images and meta­da­ta, nev­er to be recov­ered. Mir­co writes about this in his [warn­ing f‑bomb in the arti­cle title and URL] blog,  and the sto­ry has also been picked up in the LA Times blog (“Flickr fum­ble? 4,000 pho­tos delet­ed, nev­er to be return, user says”). It seems that he has the images in a back­up of some sort, but he does not have the meta­da­ta, and he also has cre­at­ed numer­ous links to these images from oth­er places, and none of these will work with­out a sub­stan­tial invest­ment of time on his part.

None of us can know how reli­able any par­tic­u­lar ser­vice will be in our par­tic­u­lar case. In the days of Ma Bell, there was a goal of ser­vice: five nines, or 99.999% planned uptime. That meant, when the phone com­pa­ny did not have a planned out­age for ser­vice or upgrade, their sys­tem would be up 99.999% of the time. It sounds great, but even this very demand­ing goal did­n’t mean the sys­tem was per­fect. It meant that the GOAL was to be down no more than 5 min­utes a year.

I can­not say it any more plain­ly than this: Sys­tems fail.

So, you want a back­up, not only for your per­son­al com­put­er, but also for your data in the cloud, some of which has only seen your com­put­er in the con­text of your brows­er. has impressed me as a very ver­sa­tile cloud back­up ser­vice. It can back­up:

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sites
  • Google Cal­en­dar
  • Google Con­tacts
  • Picasa
  • Twit­ter
  • Face­book
  • Flickr
  • Blog­ger
  • Zoho

A free account gets you 2 GB of stor­age is Ama­zon’s S3, week­ly back­ups of up to 5 accounts. For $4.99 a month, you can back­up 25 accounts, total­ing up to 20 GB, on a night­ly basis. It allows for a fair amount of peace of mind.

Would this have helped Mir­co Wil­helm? No, not real­ly. He would have had his Flickr images, and some of his meta­da­ta, but he would still have a lot of re-assem­bly ahead. But with­out this kind of ser­vice, you could lose source con­tent, espe­cial­ly on sites like Face­book, where a friend might take down a pho­to you still want­ed to see.

(I note that also picked up the Wil­helm sto­ry. In their blog post they claim that one third of data loss is due to human error.)

Categories Uncategorized iOS Apps

1920 Cen­sus in the App on an iPad announced apps for iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices ( blog link).

The free app allows mem­bers to access fam­i­ly trees they have cre­at­ed or that have been cre­at­ed by their friends, and get access to the doc­u­ments they have attached to these trees while they not at a com­put­er, but have an Apple iOS device handy. ( says they are inves­ti­gat­ing cre­at­ing an Android oper­at­ing sys­tem ver­sion of the App.)

This announce­ment involves Ances­try improv­ing it’s iPhone App, and also releas­ing an iPad-spe­cif­ic app designed specif­i­cal­ly for use with the larg­er for­mat of the iPad.

The blog entry says:

“Today, we announced the avail­abil­i­ty of an enhanced ver­sion of our iPhone app, Ances­try, that now has uni­ver­sal sup­port for the iPad and offers sev­er­al new fea­tures:

  • An inter­ac­tive fam­i­ly tree view­er to visu­al­ize rela­tion­ships in your fam­i­ly his­to­ry
  • Access to fam­i­ly trees that were shared with you
  • Abil­i­ty to view attached his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments and source cita­tions attached via
  • An improved user expe­ri­ence
  • Avail­able on the iPad”

On the iPad, makes the point that this will be a pow­er­ful shar­ing tool for geneal­o­gists to show one anoth­er and their fam­i­lies what they have found.

While I do not have an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, and haven’t felt a real desire to get one until now, being hap­py with my HTC Evo Android phone, my Mac lap­tops, and my Kin­dle, this looks quite inter­est­ing.

With’s acqui­si­tions last year of Foot­note, one won­ders if the inter­ac­tiv­i­ty avail­able on that site will seed cre­ativ­i­ty around these mobile apps, allow­ing users to anno­tate images for them­selves and oth­ers from the App, and upload this infor­ma­tion to the web.

The app becomes real­ly com­pelling if I can make “notes” about the genealog­i­cal images, say that have been incor­rect­ly indexed, and then, the next time I am online, upload those notes for oth­ers. Or, if I can take quick snap­shots (iPad 2 is rumored to have a cam­era), then upload these quick­ly to Flickr, Ances­try, and oth­er accounts with default pri­va­cy set­tings. As a one-way app, Ances­try looks cool; as a portable col­lab­o­rat­ing and crowd sourc­ing tool, it would be an almost essen­tial addi­tion to any geneal­o­gist’s tech­no­log­i­cal toolk­it.