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Backing Up? The Cloud Still Sucks

Cloud backups make it tempting to think that local storage is so 2012, but don’t try throwing out your hard drive yet. Here, two voices from the Apple developer community (Mac OS and iOS) discuss the state of cloud backups today.

Backing Up? The Cloud Still Sucks

We love the cloud, but ever tried to find and restore everything you’ve lost after a disk failure? Unfortunately, the cloud can create a false sense of security. Federico Viticci at MacStories writes:

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… I’m not as anxious about backups as I used to be. With the move from local storage to cloud services, I feel comfortable knowing that my documents always exist somewhere. I see this every time I set up a fresh install of OS X: my documents, passwords, and photos are in Dropbox and Evernote, my music is on Rdio, my purchased apps are on the Mac App Store, and if they’re not, I have a license saved in my Gmail account. My movies and TV shows are on Plex and iTunes in the Cloud.

But what about media? Having tens of gigabytes of music, images, or videos makes it likely that backups are interrupted before completion or that there are sync errors because of the size of the files involved. This snafu can be attributed to everything from crappy backup software to your daily schedule–turning off your machine before it has a chance to sync those last 100 photos can create risks you’re not even aware of. We like iOS designer Craig Grannell’s reply post entitled Don’t Stop Backing Up Unless You’re A Crazy Person for alluding to these problems in context. After outlining his backup setup (Dropbox, SuperDuper, and CrashPlan) he says:

I wanted to add Time Machine to this mix (for ongoing versioned backup), but Time Machine just didn’t work with any of the hard drives I had on hand. (Subsequent Twitter-based discussions also suggested Time Machine currently has some pretty major bugs that can lock up OS X Mountain Lion in some circumstances, which happened to me a few times before I ditched the app.) I’d also be happier if everything was in CrashPlan, but until British broadband gets out of the Stone Age and offers decent upload speeds, I have to be a little more selective.

The file system may be dying, but it won’t be totally cold until these segmented cloud solutions begin to interact with each other (and system software) to ensure that everything really is saved where it purports to be.


Yesterday’s storage paradigms are being disrupted, and developers need to know how. To learn more, check out this story we’re tracking: The Death Of The File System: What You Need To Know.


[Image by akeg on Flickr]

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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