Two cloud backup services shutting down

As I’m generally a fan of cloud backup services for the home user (and for some corporate users), it is sad that stories are reporting that both HP Upline and Yahoo! Briefcase are shutting down at the end of this month.  Click Read More to know more.
If you go to either Yahoo! Briefcase or HP Upline today, this is what you would see:
Yahoo briefcase

The good news is that people who paid appear to be getting their money back  The bad news is that if you don’t get your data back before the end of this month, you don’t get it back ever.  Yuck.

I have no knowledge of what happened behind the scenes to make these two giants pull their cloud backup services.  I wish I did and if anyone has any knowledge, feel free to share it.

I do want to reiterate something I’ve said previously about online data services.  I’m a fan of using them for hosting your backups — not for hosting the original copy of your data.  If the only copy of your data (e.g. all your photos) is sitting on some server out there, then you could lose it without notice.  Consider what happened to the customers of Journalspace when their database was destroyed and no backup was found — thousands of blogs ceased to exist.  The same thing happened to the bookmarks stored at ma.gnolia.com when their data was erased.  If the only copy of your data is on someone else’s computer, then you’re susceptible to this sort of thing.  I’m not warning about a crash of the entire Internet or anything, but this video parody about that is quite funny.

The reason I’m ok with using cloud backup services to host your backups (even when writing a story about two companies going offline) is that they remove risks that are far more likely to happen (house fires, computer fires, both of which tend to take out most home-based backup systems) and replace them with risks that are very unlikely.  If the worst would happen and your IBP (Internet Backup Provider) died without even allowing you to retrieve your backups, that event would have to occur simultaneously with your hard drive at home dying to cause you any problem.  If you found out your IBP just died, the first thing you shoudl do is make another backup of your current hard drive.  As long as you do that, the odds of you being hurt by something like this are really, really small.

If you want to protect yourself against both, then here’s what I suggest.

  1. Subscribe to an IBP (just do it)
  2. Get an ancient piece-of-crap computer that will run Linux.  Either grab an old one of yours or buy one off of ebay or craigslist. Shouldn’t cost you more than $50.
  3. Buy a Terabyte drive for $100 (or a Drobo and some smaller drives. That’ll cost more, but then you have redundancy)
  4. Load one of these free backup apps on it and back up your computer(s)

Now you have an offsite and onsite strategy — just like the big boys.

----- Signature and Disclaimer -----

Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technical Architect at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.

3 thoughts on “Two cloud backup services shutting down

  1. jaspreetis says:

    AOL Xdrive goes down as well.

    Would be interesting to see how others would play it. IMHO, its tempting but not easy to build and scale the cloud.

  2. will says:

    Hi Curtis,

    Interesting post i like your suggestion at the end, an affective and cheap alternative never goes a miss!

    I work for Nivio (recently awarded the Technology Pioneer Award at the 2009 World Economic Forum (WEF)) who are offering 10gbs of free online storage to all HP and Yahoo customers whose accounts close at the end of March, link to sign up is http://www.nivio.com/storageoffer.

    An obvious opportunity for them and a great offer for those who are affected by the closures.

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