Look at Cloud Computing from Both Sides Now - Precautions
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Fortunately Bakerís tale has a happy ending. Google unblocked Bakerís accounts after 15 hours or so of extreme stress, restoring his email archives along with ďthe documents which I did not back up, because of the trust which was established with Google.Ē However, it should serve as a cautionary warning to anyone who is tempted to imagine that the decision to rely exclusively on an online service for data protection is a sensible one, no matter how big and reputable the service.
The brutal fact, as Bakerís mishap demonstrates, is that data entrusted to a third party can disappear in an instant, at the whim of an account manager or accountant, or in the blink of a server farm power failure. Or simply because of something you said, if that happens to upset your service provider. Regardless of promises, how can you really know whether adequate precautions are in place? Who would you trust more than yourself with the only copy of your critical data?
So what precautions can you take against the dangers of cloud computing? Some, such as retaining local copies of data, are obvious. Others are less so. But anyone who chooses to use online services extensively should consider taking the following measures to protect themselves.
Always keep second copies of critical email
The best way to accomplish this will vary from service to service. Many web-based email services offer an automatic forwarding option which can be used to send email on to a second account. That way, if you get locked out of one account you can at least access your inbox through the other. If you donít want to duplicate all your email, you can manually forward important items to the second address instead, although this makes for more work. An alternate approach is to maintain a local email archive. This can be accomplished with any desktop email client. These steps are especially important for users of certain web-based mail services such as Hotmail, who delete mail after a certain duration of inactivity on an account.
Maintain a local copy of contacts
Contacts are worth more than you can imagine, especially when theyíre lost. Use a local organizer program to keep a backup of contact information, or put it in your cell phone. It doesnít matter how, but without a backup contacts list how are you going to tell people your new email address when you get locked out of your main one?
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