I’m not going to waste your time talking about how important cloud computing is because it seems like every tech website in the world is doing that. Instead, let’s cut right to the chase: you’re using a cloud service like Dropbox and you’ve stopped performing local backups. Is that really such a good idea?
Here are a few reasons why you should still perform local backups:
Very few tech startups succeed. Some of them will generate lots of hype and attract seed funding, only to disappear forever, never to be heard from again. Even projects from major, recognized companies can fail, which is why you should never just assume that a service you use is going to exist a year from now.
Google, for example, has cancelled plenty of different services in the past, including Google Buzz, Google Reader, and Google Checkout. Some of these services were used for years before they were canceled, while others generated lots of hype before release that never really came to fruition. Meanwhile, 300 startups just opened and closed their doors in the time it took you to read this sentence (full disclosure: I just made that statistic up).
Companies fail all the time – even if their intentions are pure and their funding is secure. Your cloud service might be here today but gone tomorrow.
When you think of cloud storage, you may think of walls of air conditioned servers sitting in pristine space beneath a desert in California. Or, maybe you think that cloud storage servers are literally stored in clouds above the earth. It’s difficult to definitely state where your data is being stored, and it’s impossible to know how safe your data is in that location.
Could the cloud service be hacked? It’s always a possibility. Could a natural disaster destroy all the server architecture? You never know. Or maybe the cloud storage service just gets caught using unreliable storage devices in its server architecture. The point is: don’t fall for the marketing hype behind a cloud storage service just because it looks safe and secure.
It seems like another major privacy breach gets discovered every day. Most people seem to have accepted the fact that any data they store on the internet – even cloud storage services – can potentially get leaked.
If you understand that and acknowledge the risk of storing your stuff in a virtual world, then you also understand the importance of local backups. Backing up your data locally allows you to avoid disclosing your most intimate files with the World Wide Web – that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to hack or steal, but it does make it easier for you to control who can access those files.
Of course, many of these reasons can be defeated if you use a reliable cloud service solution. Dropbox, for example, is used by millions around the world and if the company mysteriously shuts down overnight, I’ll be the first one starting riots because I have a lot of important stuff saved on there.
Is Dropbox likely to shut down without any advance notice? No. Could it feasibly happen? Not really, no. But could Dropbox experience a devastating hacking attack that causes millions of user passwords to get leaked? Yes.
Performing local backups is never a bad idea. Even if you’re using a reliable cloud backup service, your data is never 100% secure. When you add regular local backups to your security routine, you’re also not 100% secure. But you’re a little closer to hitting that limit.