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. Backupify.com has impressed me as a very versatile cloud backup service. It can backup:
- Google Docs
- Google Sites
- Google Calendar
- Google Contacts
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 Backupify.com also picked up the Wilhelm story. In their blog post they claim that one third of data loss is due to human error.)