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The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest

Do You Trust Google?

I have a friend, he’s a technology guy and fairly savvy with hardware and software. We were talking recently and he said that he didn’t see the point in performing backups or even buying software for his machine anymore. He runs Windows and *Nix in various places, but uses GMail for messaging, Google Apps and Docs to store things, Picassa and Flickr to store photos, and Yahoo’s Calendar service (he’s been with them for years) to manage things. He syncs to his phone, and I think he’s even trying out Google Voice as the phone number management issue. When they start offering hosted servers or VMs, he’ll be looking to host there as well.

I questioned him about backups and he said that Google just does a better job than he could do. They have redundant everything and they have more knowledge about how to better store things. He trusts Google to do the job for the foreseeable future.

I’m not sure I’m quite there. I have lots of stuff stored at Google: various blogs, my calendar, my contacts, I use google Voice, etc. I have pictures up on various places, and I do think that having the cloud store my data makes sense. It allows me to sync things across multiple machines, as well as my phone.

But I don’t completely trust Google. There have been issues with GMail, and recently with the Sidekick servers at Microsoft. I still think I need to keep copies of things on my machines, and as backups.

I’ll just say the various cloud services, especially Live Mesh, make it easy for me to keep multiple copies, giving me an instant backup in multiple places.

Comments

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 21 October 2009

While I'd concede that Google, et. al. probably does a far better job of backups and security than I do, they also have less to risk if something goes wrong with MY information.  If my information becomes lost, corrupt, or compromised, Google (or Microsoft, or whomever I trust to keep it) would lose face, and perhaps a few customers as a result.  However, I stand to lose everything, including pictures, personal and business financial data, contacts, and years of e-mail.  

I like having all of my data connected and available wherever I am, but it's comforting to have a backup copy that I solely control.  Call it a security blanket.

Posted by Steve Jones on 21 October 2009

I recently started backing up my Google files. They offer an XML export, and so I'll do that once a month to keep things safe.

The thing that worries me is that if they lose some small amount of data, say a blog for 3 users for some reason, it won't even be lost face. It will just be a hassle for those people. I don't want to be one of the 3.

Posted by Tim Mitchell on 21 October 2009

You're right about the lost data.  There's also the possibility of data exposure; there was a story earlier this week that some users of Google Voice had their voice mails indexed by Google.  While I don't make a habit of storing highly sensitive info on media I don't control, I wouldn't want the contents of my GMail account exposed for the world to see.

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