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What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down?

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the more-to-think-about dept.

The Internet 203

jbrodkin writes "Can you trust your data to the cloud? For users of an online storage service called The Linkup, formerly known as MediaMax, the answer turned out to be a resounding 'no.' The Linkup shut down on Aug. 8 after losing access to as much as 45% of its customers' data. 'When we looked at some individual accounts, some people didn't have any files, and some people had all their files,' The Linkup CeO Steve Iverson admits. None of the affected users will get their lost data back. Iverson called it a 'worst-case scenario.'"

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Backups, backups, backups! (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566455)

Like anything else, including local technology, the key is to create a backup strategy. The cloud creates special problems for performing and managing backukps, so you need to understand your chosen compute or storage cluster provider's options, as well as other options specific for your application in regards to backups.

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (3, Insightful)

pha7boy (1242512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566535)

Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy. One backup to rule them all is not going to work. And for mission critical files would have to be backed up several times.

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566667)

No kidding. Why do you think I said 'backups' three times in the subject line? ;) That's what I mean by a 'backup strategy' -- backup strategies, which are sometimes called 'disaster recovery plans', though that's really a bigger plan that includes a backup strategy, include making multiple redundant backups, offsite storage of backups, considerations for multiple different media, etc. There are several 'best practices', but the best strategy is going to be different for each company or department and often even for each application.

The best thing to do is to examine what kind(s) of data there is in the set, how large that data set is, how often that data gets updated, how often it needs to be accessed, and what are the potential costs for losing a day's, week's, month's, year's etc. worth of that data. That will point you in the direction as to frequency of backups, types of backups, etc.

Offsite backups are essential for any data requiring backup.

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (2, Insightful)

NorbrookC (674063) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567041)

There's now the assumption (and we all know what assume means) that if it's "in the cloud," the data is safe or backed up somewhere. Servers fail. Backups fail. Software glitches happen. Disasters - natural or other - happen. Even if you're lucky and you don't lose the actual data, losing access to it is the same - and for an extended length of time, it can be expensive.

No matter how much we preach to the choir, it seems that most people simply don't get the message.

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567163)

Redundancy, redundancy, off-site redundancy

There, fixed that for you. Backups aren't worth a damn if the building is blown up.

Hm, there seems to be a pizza van outside my residence...

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (1)

tchiseen (1315299) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566657)

The difference between good companies and poor companies is their ability to avoid "worst-case scenarios". This is all down to intelligent management of their technologies.

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (2, Informative)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566729)

True, but the cloud (at least in theory) also gives you ubiquitous access to your data from any location - when it's online, of course. I think it's best to treat it as the centralized synchronization point that you work from day-to-day (think: email, calendar) so that it's consistent across your devices, but have at least one system that YOU control periodically backing up that data.

The issues with services like Gmail and Amazon S3 tend not to be with hardware failures, but with software problems. Recent S3 outages as well as yesterday's brief Gmail outage weren't caused by a load balancer exploding, but by something going screwy in software. Theoretically no data will be erased if they've got permissions set right, but that doesn't mean you're important enough to get a human working on the database to fix YOUR account.

Re:Backups, backups, backups! (1)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567587)

I agree. I don't know what the service contract stated, but for online storage, I'd want my critical data mirrored in at least at two locations.

Essentially, if any claims were made guaranteeing the data, they should sue. If there was not a guarantee, than they shouldn't have expected it to be safe as the only copy of their data.

Obligatory (0)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566473)

I go on the internet within minutes, registering my disgust. Or not.

Fuck your God it is Satan who in trusts my soul (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566475)

I forsee at my end to be banished,
By your god for my life and branding
Never around, in the greatness of sorrow,
Screw your god and his UN writ moral.
Stifle god, and the idols of hatred,
Out of my heart, I have always been free,
One with no need all alone and satanic.
Wretched and Vile, fuck your god, de face him.
Who could believe in a lord that's demanding?
Hard to believe when we die we vanish,
In his deny and for all his creation,
Fuck your god and his righteous hatred.
You and your son, you are nothing but absence,
Something not there that controls this planet,
Only deceit do I see in your hallow
If you believe you will dwell in failure.
Fuck Your God, Holy mother for the whore she is,
Fuck your God, bible thumper preaching threats from hymn,
Fuck your god, his revival and the holy Ghost,
Fuck your god; only tell us what we need to know,
Fuck your god, pointing fingers and then do as me,
Fuck your god, you are nothing and you'll never be,
Fuck your god; it is Satan who in trusts my soul,
Fuck your god, where the Christians are I will not go.
Fuck your god!!!!!

Fuck his, commandments, and prophet's left stranded to die,
Not in my heart or my soul as I go through this life,
Good book of bullshit lay dirty with vengeance and lies,
Go fuck your Jesus and get- the- fuck out my sight.

Unity over flowing with anger,
It is our time to remove the savior,
Christians are weak and the bible is beaten,
Homage to god, in this world not needed.
Fuck your god an his annals of plager,
Falling apart and exposing the light,
I will not live by the words of their Jesus,
He did not die to protect or save me.
There is just blood in his book of deceiving,
Riddles and crap to his divine healing,
Fail is your faith and you blame it on Satan,
Christians can't see that their preys are wasted.
Not a slave to religion unrendered,
Falsified god and his Christ redempters.
Never to be in the presence of grandeur,
I am for me and forever after.

Fuck Your God, Holy mother for the whore she is,
Fuck your God, bible thumper preaching threats from hymn,
Fuck your god, his revival and the holy Ghost,
Fuck your god; only tell us what we need to know,
Fuck your god, pointing fingers and then do as me,
Fuck your god, you are nothing and you'll never be,
Fuck your god; it is Satan who in trusts my soul,
Fuck your god, where the Christians are I will not go.
Fuck your god!!!!! Fuck you!!!!

Re:Fuck your God it is Satan who in trusts my soul (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566495)

You enjoy all the pain & torment while I'm relaxing in heaven.

Religion is peer pressure manifest. (-1, Offtopic)

FatSean (18753) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566861)

If enough people tell you that silly claims of 'eternal life' are true, despite zero evidence, many soft-headed folks will buy-in to feel part of the group.

Congratulations!

Re:Religion is peer pressure manifest. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24567139)

If enough people tell you that silly claims of non-living proteins somehow coming together on their own over billions of years to form living cells are true, despite zero evidence, many soft-headed folks will buy-in to feel part of the group.

Congratulations!

Re:Religion is peer pressure manifest. (0, Flamebait)

fluffman86 (1006119) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567361)

You're right. There is zero tangible evidence for eternal life. Good point (really).

So that means that if *YOU* are right that there's no eternal life, then both of us are going to rot in the ground when we die. Really, that's not such a bad thing for me. Plus, I will have lived my life respectfully, to its fullest, without bondage to drugs or material things, and I will have hopefully helped people along the way.

But, on the other hand, if *I* am right about heaven, then my life still hasn't changed all that much, except you are in for a whole new world of hurt when you die.

Re:Religion is peer pressure manifest. (0, Offtopic)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567477)

Really?? You might want to read something by Bertrand Russell. There are others as well, which you can google, that will tell you of the massive amount of evil done by believing in such fairy tales. There are entire books on this subject, so I won't try to convince you in a /. post, but that line of thinking is dangerous and you should really put more thought into what you support.

Re:Religion is peer pressure manifest. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24567519)

You are, as many people do, confusing 'religion' with 'spirituality'. IMO, they are far from the same.

I had a NDE as a child, so I *do* have my own evidence. Were there harps and clouds everywhere and folk with wings? No. Not at all. But there is Something Beyond, out there. It feels like going Home. It is Peace, and Acceptance, and Reunion, and Knowing, all at once, and more.

Nope, I am not a practicing Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, or anything religious at all. If you have to define me to fit me into your world view, I'd guess the best way would be to say that I am a Spirituality of One, thanks.

Of course, YMMV, but - I was there. :)

Re:Fuck your God it is Satan who in trusts my soul (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567137)

And i still enjoy my presents from santa every year.

Also have you ever considerd what eternal bliss/torture would feal like, after the 1st few years both will get pretty lame and maybe im into S&M so i might prefer hell anyway

Re:Fuck your God it is Satan who in trusts my soul (1, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566501)

Psssst. Satanists worship a Christian deity. Pass it on.

An offtopic information package (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566797)

Psssst. Satanists worship a Christian deity. Pass it on.

Nope. Worshippers of satan actually do. Worshippers of satan != satanist.

Satanism is about the consept of Satan. Satan represents everything opposite to what religions do. He is a symbol of following your own desires, not letting others tell you what to do, living and enjoying in the current moment instead of waiting for your place in heaven... Not actually the red, horned creature living deep underground.

Naturally, as with any ideology, satanists are people with different views among them. For some it represents just what I said, for others it represents certain aspects of that (such as not caring about what happens to other people as long as you are happy, etc.) but generally the point is that it represents what you want it to and is thus opposite of religions.

"Any man who says 'Thou shalt' or 'Thou shalt not' is my mortal enemy on earth" is a verse from the satanistic bible.

I'm believe in a lot that can be found in the satanistic bible though a lot of it doesn't fit me. For example, I do get pleasure from other people having fun.

And then, I could argue for hours if it is still satanism. I mean, I act the way I feel best, despite what some satanistic bible tells me. Even christians who do what bible tells them because they want to do those things (instead of doing them just because bible tells them to) are arguably satanists.

I really recommend everyone to actually read the satanistic bible. A lot of it seems to be just bullshit but some concepts are very interesting to think further. The point is that satanism is far too often confused with satan's worshippers, which are completely different groups.

Re:An offtopic information package (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566853)

You, sir, are an idiot.

Re:An offtopic information package (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24567085)

oh boy a self-help book!

Not a new problem! (4, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566491)

What do you do when your local computer shuts down? How about a server on your company intranet? The cloud is no different. Backups are your friend!

Re:Not a new problem! (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566589)

The cloud is no different.

Yes and no. It rather depends on how you access the data. I still associate cloud computing with horrid, web-only interfaces. If you can mount the remote disk and have random access to the filesystem, backups get a lot easier.

Re:Not a new problem! (5, Insightful)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566723)

Kinda funny when you think about it, the backups are stored locally and the working copies are stored far away.

Re:Not a new problem! (2, Insightful)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567481)

Which leads me to this question...why is the cloud not doing backups? The cloud provider should be backing up the data within the cloud. I had assumed (wrongfully it turns out) that one of the benefits of using a cloud was that your data was backed up in some distributed fashion. It turns out that doesn't seem to be the case.

Re:Not a new problem! (2, Interesting)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567037)

What do you do when your local computer shuts down? How about a server on your company intranet?

Well with the former I can pull the hard drive and shove it in a new machine and be at least trying to recover my data inside of an hour. With the latter, the systems team could be doing the equivalent inside of a day (as the servers don't tend to be in the office).

If my remote document storage/app server/whatever goes down, even transiently, there's nothing I can do until it comes back up (other than hope that it does come back up).

So yes, backups are your friend, but the situation isn't quite the same.

Re:Not a new problem! (1)

EastCoastSurfer (310758) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567151)

Well with the former I can pull the hard drive and shove it in a new machine and be at least trying to recover my data inside of an hour. With the latter, the systems team could be doing the equivalent inside of a day (as the servers don't tend to be in the office).

If my remote document storage/app server/whatever goes down, even transiently, there's nothing I can do until it comes back up (other than hope that it does come back up).

So yes, backups are your friend, but the situation isn't quite the same.

Maybe nothing you can do personally, but I would imagine the cloud's system team would be doing the same thing. Attempting by whatever means possible to recover the data. As cloud computing matures one would expect them to become the 'experts' in date reliability and uptime. Otherwise they won't have very much business.

Backup, Storage (5, Insightful)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566511)

I can't believe this article. The number of places you store your data is directly related to the level of which it's important to you. People put all their data in once place then cry when it's gone? How is this new?

Isn't this akin to dumping all you money into one stock then whining when it tanks?

Re:Backup, Storage (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566625)

That is true. Be responsible for your own backups. The cloud should be for convenience only, and you shouldn't expect it to always be available for the rest of your life, and at every minute of every day. That being said, I think that there could be a lot better solutions than most services seem to offer. I think the whole idea of cloud computing is flawed. I think a much better idea would be to tote all you data, and programs, and maybe even OS around on a USB key or USB Hard Drive (depending on your storage needs), and just plug that into any computer you come across. Boots up, completely customized to you. Backups can be stored on your home/work computer when you plug in your drive, and automatically synced up to a network backup if you are really paranoid. If you sync into a computer every day, the most you will lose will be one days worth of work. With the cloud, there are too many points of failure that could make you lose access to you data, and there's only one source of the data, so if you lose that source you are out of luck. With the system I described, even if you left your USB drive at home, you could still work off yesterdays image, and then resync when you brought the drive in the next day. If you had a fast enough internet connection, you could get all your stuff right off the network, if you forgot your drive, and wanted to access your stuff on a completely new computer.

Re:Backup, Storage (3, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566757)

Isn't this akin to dumping all you money into one stock then whining when it tanks?

Sure, but that doesn't stop people from doing exactly that.

Re:Backup, Storage (1)

TheJasper (1031512) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566763)

not quite. It depends on what the service is offering. If they are guaranteeing redundant storage at multiple locations, protected against earthquake and volcanoes then you could reasonably expect the service to not crash irrecoverably.

In any case they promise a storage for your data. I would imagine they also take responsibility for its loss. It's not like stock but more like putting things in storage.

Of course with physical storage I would expect a ton of disclaimers or a mandatory insurance policy...

Re:Backup, Storage (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566875)

Yes but playing the odds can result in 2% lower costs.

Which means your products are 4% cheaper than a competitor who is using good backup strategies.
So if the odds work in your favor, your competitor goes out of business before you get hit by something bad like this.

Companies make these kind of hard choices all the time. And a lot of times, they successfully destroy their competitors and hear the lamentations of their women.

Re:Backup, Storage (1)

AndyCh (1153959) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567187)

I have been using a service called Dropbox [getdropbox.com] . This has 2GB of space for nothing but the point is that you define a single folder on all your machines as the Dropbox and it syncs everything between each device (and online). This means that I save a file on my laptop and it get sent to The Cloud, but also to my desktop computer. Best of both worlds, and the more computers you add, the more backups you have. Windows and Mac clients are available at the moment, and a Linux edition (currently Ubuntu/Nautilus) is in testing - I have a copy and it's truly lovely.

Re:Backup, Storage (1)

dintlu (1171159) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567197)

Inversely, spreading your data around in different clouds and different mediums is directly related to the risk of having it stolen/compromised.

People extend trust to corporations and business entities under the assumption that they have redundancies and contingencies that they don't have the time and money to arrange. Incidents like these just illustrate that no single entity can be trusted with data, but in 2008 I would expect a little better from the average corp.

What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (4, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566515)

Open the curtains and let the sunshine in, and water the garden.

Oh, you mean the network... what kind of fool trusts his data with someone else?

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566551)

what kind of fool trusts his data with someone else?

That depends on who the someone else is, what their reputation is like, and, most importantly, how well they are insured.

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566679)

Insurance means nothing. Once your data is lost, it is lost. Whether or not you get money out of them in compensation for the lost data is almost non-important. I would say that anything you lost would be completely non-producable, even if you had all the money in the world. A picture of your family on vacation, can't be reproduced. You can go on another vacation, but it won't be the same vacation. Any document you have typed out, could be typed out again, but it would be different each time. Unless you are talking about lost music files, in which case, you could download them again, but that's kind of the same as having a backup. Any data that's really important isn't going to reproducible.

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566755)

Insurance means nothing. Once your data is lost, it is lost. Whether or not you get money out of them in compensation for the lost data is almost non-important.

Oh, I wouldn't say nothing. As I said above in the FP in this article, the key to this whole thing is a solid backup strategy. Companies can insure those backups just like you would insure a package. If your data is truly irreplaceable (most enterprise data is not completely irreplaceable), you will make sure your eggs aren't all in one basket.

But in the end, insurance can provide some relief -- but not total relief -- from lost data.

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (2, Insightful)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566825)

Whether or not you get money out of them in compensation for the lost data is almost non-important

Maybe for a home user, but usually for a business time actually does = money, and the two are relatively interchangeable. One day of work = $x, and insurance means a lot. And if you'd actually read TFA, you would know that one of the companies involved, Nirvanix, is a business oriented cloud-storage company.

Maybe what you meant to say was "Insurance means nothing to me."

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (2, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567555)

But it's not as simple as you put it. Let's say all my data was on the cloud. And I spend a 30 days writing up some code for a client. And I charged the client a rate of $1000 a day. Based on days*cost per day, I would get $30,000. But by losing all that data, I have lost much more. Maybe there was something in the contract (there should have been), stating that if I was late, I would have to lower the final price the client paid me, and not be paid for the additional days. What about all the other clients I promised work to, who's contracts I can't fulfill because I'm stuck having to rewrite the code I lost for the first client. Maybe that client no longer wants to deal with me for future projects. Maybe that client will tell a bunch of other potential clients how unreliable I am, and I will lose future clients. There's no easy way to figure out how much a single days work is actually worth. It seems in most cases, that the best "insurance" would be to create multiple backups, rather than trust your data to "the cloud".

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (2, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566561)

A fool and his data are soon to be parted.

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24567595)

Ah, but who is the greater fool? The fool, or the fool who trusts him with his data?

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (2, Funny)

dnwq (910646) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566587)

Oh, you mean the network... what kind of fool trusts his data with someone else?

I build my own hard drives and power supply too!

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (3, Funny)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566675)

You don't generate your own electricity, too? Slacker!

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (2, Insightful)

DingerX (847589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566641)

Maybe the same kinds of fools who trust their money with someone else.

Seriously, cloud storage is very useful as part of a backup strategy -- offsite, maintained to professional standards. It's even more useful for geographically-disperse projects (or when I need to get at my files on the move).

But running a company that provides this sort of service is like running a bank. It's too bad Nirvanix thinks that this isn't their problem. Even if it's a screwup by an administer from the part of the old company that's now MediaMax/The Linkup, they are associated intimately with this loss. Making statements like "It's not our fault; Barney disassociated the files. That would never happen here," is just stupid. Even worse is "We have the data, but can't get at them, because to do so requires our client's front end." Guess what? It did happen here and you do have the data. It's charming that you guys managed to get into a contractual dispute over other people's data. Any contracting business now knows exactly what to expect from you.

Now, what kind of fool trusts his data with clowns like these?

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (1)

Ritz_Just_Ritz (883997) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566715)

Agreed. I wonder what the TOS looks like for both companies? If they had 20,000 paying customers and they suddenly went {POOF}, you'd think that some of those customers might be annoyed enough about it to lawyer up.

Without knowing any of the details (since both sides seem very cagey about the specifics), it looks more like a classic case of a company running out of money and closing up shop with scant notice to their clients. I can't imagine anyone trusting what's left of this venture with any data in the future.

Cheers,

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566759)

Millions of em, by the looks of it. Although your comment did lead me to a nice modern-day proverb:
"A fool and his data are soon parted."

Re:What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down? (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567515)

You made your own computer? Wow!

Well DUH! (1, Redundant)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566539)

Rule number one is to be able to restore those backups.
Rule number two is to have backups.
Rule number three is if you forget rule number one and two, don't come crying.

And yes, restoring data is more important then backing up.

Re:Well DUH! (2, Funny)

spoonist (32012) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566611)

No, no, no, you have it all wrong.

The first rule of backups is: "You do not talk about backups."

Re:Well DUH! (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566653)

2. ????
3. Restore!

Re:Well DUH! (1)

canix (1176421) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567027)

4. Profit!

Re:Well DUH! (1)

linuxelf (123067) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566669)

"restoring data is more important then backing up" Now how are you going to restore data and THEN back it up??

Re:Well DUH! (4, Funny)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567067)

I back up everything to /dev/null. Restoration is somebody else's job.

Re:Well DUH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24567541)

Restoring from /dev/random as worked for me so far.
Working with the files is someone else's job.

Re:Well DUH! (1)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567165)

And yes, restoring data is more important then backing up.

I understand what you're getting at, but it's not exactly true.

Restoring data is equally as important as backing up. If you have no worthwhile data to restore, then it doesn't matter how efficiently you can restore. And likewise, if you have backed up data but can't restore, then what good is the backup? You have to make regular backups and test them regularly.

Re:Well DUH! (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567461)

Rule 34 - If the backup exists, there will be pr0n of it.

Cloud computing (1)

bugeaterr (836984) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566569)

"Hey look in the clouds honey!
It used to be MyNearlyCompletedNovel.doc,
now it looks kind of like a dragon, wait, no,
now its a UNICORN!"

Re:Cloud computing (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566753)

The cloud changed my novel into a picture of a newt!

Dont depend on only one backup (1)

cybrchld (229583) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566577)

Have more than on type of backup, online is a good form of offsite backup but always have somthing else.

The critical flaw (5, Insightful)

Nephroth (586753) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566595)

The critical flaw of cloud computing is that you entrust your data to a third party. If you are at all concerned with privacy you will think cloud computing is a terrible idea.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566663)

There's this new fangled idea. Called encryption.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567069)

That's all well and good if they're merely storing the data, but not if you're using an online app suite like Google Apps.

Re:The critical flaw (3, Insightful)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566677)

Well that's what encryption is for. Seriously, I'd much much rather have my data encrypted on a remote server than have it unencrypted on my own computer, especially if I ever want to go to the US.
In fact, even if it's encrypted locally, that means I'm even more likely to lose it at the border because if it's encrypted then surely I'm an evil terrorist come to take away all your freedoms that you enjoy, such as your protection from unreasonable search or seizure...

Re:The critical flaw (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566831)

That works well if your definition of a cloud is "webdav". But what about all the other cloud features, where whole applications are available on the cloud, and your data is actually manipulated by server side code? If we were just talking webdav here, backups would be a lot easier. But with many cloud offerings, there simply isn't a way to download all your data with one command. Also, for clouds that do offer applications, download just the files may not be enough, as you would have your files, but might not be able to manipulate them with the applications on the cloud.

Re:The critical flaw (2, Insightful)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566683)

What's preventing a service that does encryption/decryption on the client side? Other than the lack of desire from the providers I mean.

Re:The critical flaw (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566807)

Actually, we've talked about this at work. Sure, you can encrypt/decrypt your data client side, but... who holds the 'keys'? And, if someone leaves the company and has those 'keys', whats to prevent them from posting them on some blog and having 3.2million weenie hackers on the 'net getting access to your potentially proprietary/damaging data?

From a security perspective, I can't see storing any data that might in the slightest be a problem if it gets deleted or published on the 'net, on the 'cloud'... the potential for damage would far outweigh any perceived 'advantage'.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566983)

Require two or more keys to access the data. Restrict downloads to your corporate IP block, with individual user files accessible from anywhere but encrypted with only their keys, which are backed up and dual encrypted so the IT department can recover them if necessary, but doesn't have access to spy unless they can get an accomplice.

This stuff is solvable, and can be done transparently. I mean, I'm not putting my data on some fly-by-night's servers (or any servers that aren't running open-source software with plenty of competitors), but there's no technical reason this couldn't come out.

Re:The critical flaw (2, Interesting)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566971)

What's preventing a service that does encryption/decryption on the client side? Other than the lack of desire from the providers I mean.

I think there are several issues, and lack of interest from providers is actually among the least of them. Lack of interest from users is probably the biggest issue. Many people just don't care that much about the privacy of their data -- they either honestly don't care who sees their stuff, or don't care enough to be willing to expend any effort or time preventing it. Adding a well-designed encryption feature to a backup service would add complexity and expense, and if people aren't willing to pay for that (i.e. they don't care), it's not going to get added.

Some enterprise backup systems do offer encryption (and also offer non-cloud-based backup, for companies that want to keep everything on-site) so it's not as though it's never been done. You just don't see it on the consumer level that often, because consumers don't care enough about privacy to pay for it.

Also, a well-designed encryption system -- where the data was effectively lost if the user misplaced or lost their decryption key -- would probably lead to a lot of customer-service problems. Inevitably, users would upload data, not make a backup of the key (or make a backup and then lose it, or not store it off-site, or whatever), and then get upset when they couldn't recover their data from the backup service that they paid for. I've dealt with this sort of thing personally before; many users just don't get encryption. They find it inconceivable that you, as the god-like administrator, can't just open up an encrypted file on command when they lose their password. (I've had people literally accuse me of plotting against them or being insubordinate for not opening their encrypted files for them.)

So given that it would add complexity to the implementation to do right, isn't something that people are likely to pay extra for, and is likely to cause a lot of problems and expense down the road, it's not surprising that most online backup services either don't offer encryption or don't turn it on by default if they do. It's easy for knowledgeable users to add encryption to files before uploading them; just letting them do that is a lot easier than trying to explain to Aunt Millie why her vacation photos are gone because she wrote down her password on a piece of paper that was lost in the fire that destroyed her computer.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566785)

This is a tractable problem if you use encryption and apply it to the files before they leave your system. Obviously you need to back up your encryption key via some other method, but that's not hard (USB keychain drives and solid-state memory cards are all good for this purpose, and can be easily stashed away in safe locations).

The real problem with these online-storage services is lack of transparency. You rarely get much insight into how they're operated, and even then you typically only have their own assurances that they're following whatever procedure they describe to you. E.g., they claim to have a great datacenter with all sorts of redundancy, and back everything up to tape twice a week ... but you don't really know that for sure. They could just have a bunch of striped Maxtor hard drives stuffed into a machine in an office closet.

Backup "services" that don't actually manage their own storage operations are even worse; they may themselves not really even know, or have any insight into besides marketing literature, about the actual operations on the hardware end. They're just buying storage and transfer from something like Amazon S3 or Nirvanix and then reselling it. Although they have reason to make everything sound as secure as possible, they may not have any actual control over it. If the upstream provider goes out of business, or gets wiped out by a hurricane / flood / plague of locusts, you're S.O.L.

The security issue is, on the whole, one of the more straightforward problems to solve. The transparency of the actual storage-system operations seems harder.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

iwein (561027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566923)

Am I to believe you solder your own storage devices? You have to either trust a party to not be a moron or not be a moron yourself.

The trust in this instance was clearly misplaced.

Re:The critical flaw (2, Insightful)

phoenix.bam! (642635) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567099)

Cloud computing is no different than any other hosting service. Shared hosting, a colo box, a virtual machine, or a cloud account are all vulnerable. So unless you have a direct line to a tier1 backbone you're going to have to put your data into someone else's hands at some point.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567583)

You don't understand cloud computing as it is discussed today. It refers to putting storage (and maybe utilizing apps) on a remote machine that you don't own (and most likely in a place that you can't directly access). That isn't in the same ballpark as colo or even shared hosting. In the latter you have full access to your account, usually with a great connection, and can download your data quickly. Also if you have important data at a colo, you better have 2 servers replicating.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567285)

The critical flaw of cloud computing is that you entrust your data to a third party. If you are at all concerned with privacy you will think cloud computing is a terrible idea.

Or you'll just make sure your data is encrypted before sending it out to the 3rd party for storage... Just like, if you're really concerned with privacy, you'll be encrypting the data locally as well.

Now, of course, for a cloud system where you're using someone else's CPU cycles that may not work... You might not be able to keep the data encrypted... But that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about simple file storage. And there's absolutely no reason why you can't encrypt the files yourself and then store them wherever you like.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567335)

The problem isn't so much that you have to trust your data to a third party. The problem is lack of regulation and standards for the the "cloud".
We trust our money to third parties "banks" and that works pretty well.
A professionally run company should do as good of a job securing your data as bank does securing your money.
This company is a good example of a really bad company. It seems they took less care in migrating their customers data than my company did in migrating our customers website accounts.

Re:The critical flaw (1)

Slurpee (4012) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567341)

The critical flaw of cloud computing is that you entrust your data to a third party. If you are at all concerned with privacy you will think cloud computing is a terrible idea.

Not really. There are two issues you raise 1) Entrusting your data to a third party. 2) Privacy concerns.

1) In some cases, a third party will do a better job at backing up your data then yourself or your company. This is the real world - outsourcing sometimes is a good idea. But be careful. Everyone stuffs up - who is more likely to stuff up?

2) Privacy concerns depends on a whole lot of things. Including how sensitive your data is, and if the data is encrypted by you before submitting it to the cloud. So it could be a problem - not not necessarily so.

So neither are "critical" flaws - it all depends on your own situation, who you are entrusting your data to, and how you are entrusting it to them.

Mike

Not a whole lot, but... (1)

ericleasemorgan (928146) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566609)

What do you do when the cloud shuts down? Nothing. Seriously. This is why you strongly weigh the advantages of cloud computing or relying on an outside network in general. I recently purchased a house that has no and will have no Internet connection. While there my computing change and I figure out ways to accomplish many of my same goals with a limited set of resources. I sort of look at the whole thing as interesting computing problem to solve or work around.

OK, so I'm a dinosaur, but... (3, Funny)

FlyByPC (841016) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566621)

...they can have my local computing and storage capabilities when they pry them from my cold, dead hands. Google is great for looking things up -- and webmail accounts are great for portability -- but the old saying applies: If you want something done (backed up, available), do it yourself. Much more secure that way, too.

Besides, with Remote Desktop, FOUSs*, and continuous 'Net connections, it's pretty easy to take it with you.


* (8GB on a microSDHC the size of my fingernail is a Flashdrive Of Unusual Size in my book!)

An old maxim: (2, Insightful)

Tinfoil (109794) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566623)

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Those who would knowingly trust their data to an outside (and relatively untested) organization without having a backup in place are just asking for something like this to happen.

Oh, ya, backups are hard.

Re:An old maxim: (1)

dzfoo (772245) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567453)

So what you're saying is that...

Those who would give up their Essential Data to purchase Temporary Convenience, deserve neither Data nor Convenience.

        -dZ.

Re:An old maxim: (1)

Tinfoil (109794) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567539)

Clever!

Clouds are overhyped. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566661)

Like all current buzzwords people jump onto them with a vague understanding on what they are and what they do. Just to be buzzword complaint. Clouds are rather complicated to maintain and operate and are really for only some very particular tasks. Most companies and people don't need them and shouldn't use them, as it is to much effort for the gain. So you doubled performance however you need 3 times the IT Staff hours to keep it operating smoothly and manage the cloud, it really isn't worth it for most cases. For most places small grid computing or getting a larger server does the trick a lot easier.

Sell me data insurance (2, Interesting)

cohomology (111648) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566705)

Every year, I read the terms of service of a bunch of online backup services, but I have not found one that gives the provider any incentive to be careful. They say they have *no liability of any kind*. Why should I trust them?

I will cheerfully pay to insure access to my data, but nobody offers me insurance.

Same happened to me. (4, Funny)

anomnomnomymous (1321267) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566713)

I had this overly insightful comment... but it all got lost when I submitted it.

And now look what I'm left with!

My mistake... (1)

Halmos (464196) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566719)

I thought this story was going to be about MobileMe.

Lawsuit, Lawsuit... no seriously (1)

sup2100 (996095) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566777)

It seems like the data is still there and the only reason they can't get to it is liscensing/ disagreements between companies... at this point I'd sue everyone until they're forced to cooperate and hand over the data

This is why backups are important (2, Interesting)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566815)

A few years ago, I had my websites hosted at this one company, Digi-Wave. They were great for a few years, but suddenly their servers were down. For a week. Yes, I said a week. The servers came up again briefly before going down again, but in that brief span, I managed to backup my database and files. When I called their support line, I was told that their servers were infected with Code Red (IIRC, I know it was one of those IIS worms). I knew this was a bogus answer because the fix to Code Red infection was: 1) disconnect the machine from the 'Net, 2) reboot it, 3) apply the patch (possibly rebooting again), 4) reconnect to the 'Net. It shouldn't have taken them over a week to fix this.

Then they stopped answering support calls and their phone's inbox filled up until it stopped accepting recordings. By this time, I contacted my credit card company to get my money back and had made arrangements with another hosting provider. I was lucky to have retained my data. Many were not so lucky. And to add insult to injury, after Digi-Wave folded, another hosting company arose with a different name but the same contact information.

The moral of this story is to always backup. Because you never know when the cloud, your webhost, or even your personally owned and run server will go south and take your data with it.

redundancy is the key (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566823)

redundancy is the key, use several services to store your data

paid: use something like amazon s3
free: use online storage sites that were around for few years like http://ifile.it/ [ifile.it]

Cloud yes, but local too (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566827)

This is why you should always store your data in more than one location. Yes, put it in the cloud - but also store it locally. Dropbox [getdropbox.com] is a good example of software that does this.

I must be too old (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566841)

I don't even trust IMAP to store my email remotely - I still use POP and make backups. I suppose that might change in the future now that the internet is more accessible - my previous internet provider thought "high speed internet" involved their replacing the 33kb modem bank with V.90 units. What can I say, I used to live out in the sticks.

I like the idea of access to everything, from everywhere, but I think I'd still prefer to have the "master" copies at "home" and have the remote files synchronized to that data instead of the other way around. (or, in this case, potentially have no local copy *shiver*)

You can backup with IMAP, too. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567133)

You know, you can use IMAP and set your MUA to cache all messages and attachments locally. Virtually every IMAP client I've ever used has had this option (okay, a few mobile phones excepted). Apple Mail and Thunderbird definitely do. If you use this, you get almost all the advantages of POP -- keeping local copies -- while also being able to easily use multiple clients without worrying about sync issues.

I have several computers connected to the same GMail mailbox via IMAP. One of them connects and caches everything (bodies and attachments), the others only download on command. This gives me a local backup of every message that comes in (via the cached copy of Gmail's "All Mail" folder) but gets all the benefits of IMAP otherwise.

People Who Follow Cheap Fads (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566891)

People who follow fads get what they deserve. If you have something on one server, and you know where it is even if it's hosted, then that is at least something. Backups are still important though, obviously. However, in a cloud it could be anywhere. If you lose one part of the cloud then your data is essentially useless. Backups become even more important.

What I do? (1)

ketilwaa (1095727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24566931)

What I do? I get on with my life, having saved all important stuff locally (copy, paste if I need to), and having printed what I really, really need.
If my iLife was so important, I'd use a grounded method of communicating to begin with.
Life deals shit and mishaps on a daily basis, and if what you're doing is so important, invest some time and intelligence into how you save that work. "The cloud" is just somewhere to put the blame when the fault lies between computer and screen.

Software as a Service Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24566935)

This is great , this is the best case against the "Software as a Service" model I have ever Seen.

"When we looked at some individual accounts, some people didn't have any files, and some people had all their files," The Linkup CeO Steve Iverson admits. None of the affected users will get their lost data back. Iverson called it a "worst-case scenario."

Let me translate:

1. You don't get what you pay/[paid] for.
2. We are not responsible, nyah nyah!
3. You will not be compensated
4. All your data are belong to /dev/null

What could possibly go wrong, trusting a big corporation with your data?

How hard is it to back up on CDR/DVD/Tape?

Link to the article on ONE PAGE (3, Funny)

Dekortage (697532) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567053)

This version [networkworld.com] may be easier to read.

Bottom line: The Linkup is blaming Nirvanix (a third-party service provider) which is, of course, blaming The Linkup. FTA:

Nirvanix says it has not deleted any customer data, and promises that its Storage Delivery Network is immune to the problem that plagued The Linkup. At The Linkup, a "system administrator ran a script that misidentified active account data and disassociated physical files from their owners," Nirvanix says. "This led to files being marked offline in the old Streamload/MediaMax file system when they shouldn't have been." Iverson, meanwhile, claims it was a Nirvanix engineer who caused the data loss.

Summary: "He did it." "No, he did it." "No, it was him!" "You did it FIRST!" "Idiot!" "Moron!" "Jackass!" ** customers shoot them both **

hmmm (1)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567135)

If GMail went down, I would have to.. oh my god... open Thunderbird and look in the GMail IMAP folder.

They screwed me! (1)

AdamWho (1258590) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567175)

I was one of their customers (media max) and they didn't even bother to tell me they were bought by Linkup. I just show out at the site one day to upload some files and there is nothing, login gone, files gone, and a lame excuse.

Gmail outage reported yesterday too (1)

toby (759) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567211)

n/t

A device meant for this exact situation (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567623)

What Do You Do When the Cloud Shuts Down?

I pull out an umbrella!

Don't use the cloud (1)

Godji (957148) | more than 6 years ago | (#24567643)

I may sound like the grumpy old "told-you-so" guy on this one, but who in their right mind would trust the cloud with their important data?

When these days computers and storage are so cheap, why does anyone bother with cloud storage, with all the complexity, reliability, security and privacy issues that it entails?

Seriously, get down to Earth! The cloud is overrated. I will go as far as to claim that the cloud is nothing more than the uber-buzzword of 2008.
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