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clonesWe’ve all learned to distrust the computers in our own homes when it comes to backing up data. But in the age of cloud computing, where data is stored on Internet-connected servers, who backs up the cloud?

In the past day, we’ve seen a trio of data losses that could be catastrophic for some users:

T-Mobile said that some Sidekick smart phone users may have lost their data forever as a result of a catastrophic hardware failure at Microsoft’s Danger subsidiary.

Facebook acknowledged that about 0.5 percent of its users, or more than 150,000 people, have had outages on their Facebook accounts for the past week and a half.

— And Apple acknowledged that some users could see some data lost due to a flaw in the newest version of the Mac operating system.

We all know there is redundancy built into servers in data centers. We should be able to trust sites that have our data stored on them. They should have backup systems that can restore data if one set of hardware or software fails. The problem is, we don’t know that those sites are really doing a great job with the backups. There is no way to keep your own backup of all of the data you have on your Facebook account. The big question is, why not?

Given this week’s events, I’m thinking that the backing up now has to go in the other direction. If I’ve got a lot of important data stored on Facebook, Google Docs, and other cloud-based sites, then maybe I should keep some of that data backed up on my own computer. Or maybe I should make sure everything I have on my Facebook account is also mirrored on my MySpace account. After all, two different cloud-based storage systems couldn’t possibly fail at the same time, could they?

Server-based sites should really do something about this problem. If there’s one lesson we’ve all learned, it’s that technology fails, and sometimes the consequences are catastrophic. [photo credit: Flickr, Adactio]


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