One of the most frequently-spouted objections to playing with your data in the cloud is the fear that all that data, once flying around in the ether and out of your control, might be lost forever on the wings of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The big news over the past week about Google’s loss of Gmail data for a number of accouts (link here) painfully reinforces the point.
But common sense should prevail in the cloud, as it does on the ground. If you don’t back up your data, be it residing on your hard drive or elsewhere, you are standing squarely in harm’s way.
So, given the situation, what can the average person do to ensure that their important information does not get lost in a software update, computer glitch, or malicious viral wave?
You can set up an auto-forward within Gmail, using POP configuration, to send mail to your chosen client – simply click on your account settings and the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab to enable POP. This will load all your Gmail into your client email program, creating a copy on the web and a local copy.
For what it is worth, you can add multiple internet email services to your local Outlook client (not just Gmail), and archive locally from there.
You also can backup your Gmail, Twitter, Facebook (profile and pages), Google Calendar, Contacts, Docs and Sites, Blogger, LinkedIn, Picasa, Zoho, and Flickr accounts with an online service called Backupify. The free version gives you 2GB of storage, or you can purchase 100GB of storage for $4.99 per month – pretty darn cheap. The site offers automatic archiving and search of backups with extreme simplicity – there really is no downside to signing up for a free account and setting up your various data feeds to be sent automatically to Backupify, even as a redundant + redundant system.
For Gmail only, you also can use the Gmail Backup Tool. Download the app, set up your account and your backups will be automatically generated and stored locally, with an auto-restore option for your online Gmail account.
While Gmail is in the limelight right now, it never hurts to put methods in place to save your treasured data. For eample, I have enabled my Twitter RSS feed to flow into my Google Reader account, providing me with a means of storing my tweets and searching the entire history of my existence on Twitter. I have enabled a plug-in on my WordPress blog to facilitate easy backup prior to upgrading to new versions of WordPress, which seem to come out almost every other month.
For every reason, there is a method. Find one that works and get going!