Can the cloud protect us?

A button for everything. Click image for source.

A button for everything. Click image for source.

I just received an email from a friend of mine who’s lost all his iPhone data. That’s over 2,000 contacts he’s built up over the past few years in PR.

To say it’s a disaster is an understatement. But I guess it’s a lesson to us all: data has no value unless it’s backed up. I learned that while working in tech environments, since when I’ve become something of a backup fiend.

Nevertheless, it’s still easy to screw things up. I once backed up ‘the wrong way’, that is, copied all my old stuff over all my new. You can’t undo that, because the files are all overwritten. I lost work, but fortunately nothing critical.

I also once deleted my backups to clear some space, only to find I’d deleted the current work instead, and that none of it was in the Recycle bin for some reason. Now that was a real panic – nasty sinking feeling in stomach, raised breathing rate, dry lips. Fortunately I managed to download an undelete utility and get it all back.

But the problem remains with PDAs that while it’s convenient to have everything in one funky little package, it’s a nightmare when you lose it. Because you don’t just lose contacts. You can lose data, music, videos – a large part of your life in fact over the past few years. At Christmas I had a friend who thought he’d lost his camera from the previous night. Not a problem, you’d think, until you realised that he was a quantity surveyor and had a lot of photographs on it that he needed for work.

He was lucky: he found the camera. And again, he should have backed up. And again again, it just occurred to me that he shouldn’t really have been using it at a party anyway!

All this losing of data has made me think. Perhaps cloud computing is the way forward. Instead of storing all your contacts locally on a device that it seems is specifically designed to be mislaid, why not store them remotely? As well as your media? So there are ‘cold spots’ where you can’t access a mobile signal now (including my house in Bucks since Christmas for some reason), but apparently you can get a mobile signal on the top of Everest, so one day you’ll be able to get one pretty much anywhere.

So let’s hear it for cloud computing. One day, we’ll be able to forget about backing up and avoid the terrible implications of forgetting to back up – or, to misquote the BBC, make the unmissable, missable.

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