Cloud computing makes me nervous

Maybe it’s because I’m old, but cloud computing makes me nervous. I remember the Apple "1984" ad not just because it was a great piece of work by Ridley Scott, but also because of its underlying message. And that message was simple: monolithic computer systems supplied by monolithic suppliers aren’t a good idea for individuals.

Cloud computing is a return to the dark ages of the 1960′s and 1970′s, when all of your most valuable things – your data – sat on a big server somewhere. You accessed it from a simple terminal, but only so long as you paid IBM or whoever to process your data. While you owned the data in theory, in practice you were at the mercy of your supplier.

Alan Patrick, too, has been around the blocks a few times, which is why he is equally amazed at what people are sleepwalking into:

"I’ve been reading some of the comments on other blogs about this with a mounting sense of wonder at the sheer naivete of some users. For anything that is important: Firstly, always plan for redundancy in your systems – have an online and on computer service that are synched. Secondly, do frequent backups to a 3rd source. Thirdly, if its important, pay for it. Ad funded services are responsive to the advertisers, not to the users – its that pipers / tune thing."

If you use Google Documents exclusively you are taking a serious risk that one day Google will lock you out of your data. I’m not impuning anything about Google here – they may, indeed, plan to "do no evil". But you are relying on their good grace, and that should make you nervous.

Own your own documents – keep them on your hard drive, and on a seperate drive or two as well. Use Google Documents as a backup, not your only storage.