Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dapocalypse now. Grab your data and run. RUN.

This is not a drill.

Repeat, this is not a drill.

The sky is falling. Ragnarok of the nerds has come. Gabriel's horns a blowin. There's a hole in the hull. The banks a failin' and there ain't no FDIC. There's a time for all things, and this is the time to panic.

It's Dapocalypse Now -- and I was kind of joking when I wrote that three months ago.

Look on my works ye mighty, and note the increasingly impassioned wikipedia donation requests.

Here ye can read the scrolls of the dead. Dead like AOL's xdrive [FAQ] and photo service, Google Lively, Yahoo User Profiles, Yahoo webcam feeds, MSN Groups, and perhaps most impressively, Digital Railroad (emphases mine) ...

Startup firms rely on their investors' continued interest, and boards are often dominated by venture capitalists and others who might choose to pull the plug for their own reasons, as they have no specific relationship with a company's downstream clientele.

Digital Railroad, a stock photography site that let professional photographers manage their own inventory and sales, had said it was shedding costs in mid-October, but posted a note on 28-October-2008 that the plug would be pulled within 24 hours.... Digital Railroad believes the files will remain intact on servers that are no longer active, and if assets are purchased, photographers may be able to get more data back in the future.

What Digital Railroad's photographers lost is not their images; I can't imagine any pro not having many backups of whatever they uploaded. Rather, the time invested in coding their images to the company's specifications--the metadata. Some photographers reported having spent hundreds of hours on this task....
I trust you get the picture.


Everyone needs to do a personal data risk inventory.

Clearly, anything with AOL is walking dead. Kiss your email archives good-bye.

Yahoo Flickr is unlikely to die with Yahoo!, but they'll use Flickr's data lock to hold on to customers until the very end. It won't be pretty.

Most other Yahoo data is toast.

A lot of MSN data will be gone.

So what are our family risks and how will we manage them?
  1. SmugMug: I've been worried about them for years. I don't put new images there, but we have a lot of archives that I pay cash to maintain. I wouldn't lose the images of course, they're in iPhoto. I would lose the album organizations and image choices. I need to study if there's any metadata I can extract, perhaps using a personal spider.
  2. Toodledo: Holds my iPhone Notes and Tasks. I pay for this service too. I've run into issues with Appigo/Toodledo integration but now I'll start archiving my table data every other day. In theory one can subscribe to a Toodledo .ics file from iCal, but when I do that the due dates are empty. If the subscription worked that would be quite reassuring and would make me happier staying with Toodledo. (iCal doesn't have categories incidentally, it really is a miserable application.)
  3. Evernote: Probably will survive, I don't store any critical data there. Certainly a risk.
  4. Google: See below.
Google's the big one. This blog, for one thing -- and I recently grew beyond the ability of Teleport Pro to back it up on my local drive. Gmail for another, like the ex-Lively it's "beta". Calendars. Google Apps. Our Picasa web albums. Huge.

Of course Google's too big to fail ... like Citigroup, for example.

Oh. Maybe that's not so reassuring. I guess I should get more regular about archiving my Google email.

Winter's here. Time to dust off those desktop apps. The great data-bank run of '09 has begun.

Update: I didn't have anything of interest on my xdrive account. I figured I'd delete the account, but that's no longer an option. I do recommend removing all data and account information from unwanted accounts, there's no guarantee that the data will truly be removed. Since I could not delete the account I changed my xdrive password to a random string that does not match any other of my passwords.

1 comment:

Miguelito said...

It is a real issue. Unlike Gordon, I had a bunch of critical data at Xdrive. I just moved to ElephantDrive where I became a paying subscriber (I was using Xdrive for free), mostly because they advertised an "automatic transfer tool" to move all the data from one to the other. For some reason it didn't start right away, but one it did the thing actually worked.

Anyway, I'm hoping the combination of paying for the service plus keeping a relatively up to date copy on an external drive will do the trick.

Good luck to all...