To quote a news report from TechCrunch, "Cloud computing is all very well until someone trips over a wire and the whole thing goes dark." Yesterday I noticed an error message when I tried to log into the FamilySearch Forums website. Here is a screen shot of the error message:
At first I thought this might be a local problem with FamilySearch, but after an E-mail to one of the FamilySearch Forum support team, I learned of the greater problem. There has been a major collapse of what is called the Amazon EC2 or Elastic Compute Cloud hosted in Amazon's North Virginia data center. E-Week.com made the following note in an article entitled, Will Amazon EC2 Outage Negatively Affect Attitudes Toward Cloud? Nah: "News analysis: No site on the Internet is sacrosanct or immune from power shutoffs or a major service denial attack. Just make sure you manage your own cloud service closely and provide your own backup."
In the genealogical community, there have been a lot of Blog posts on the subject of "Cloud Computing." The term "cloud computing" is used to refer to transferring computing tasks that were done locally to online services. For example, if you keep your genealogy on your computer using your own program you are not using cloud computing, but it you take the same file and load it onto a website and store you information there either for backup or collaboration, you are participating in cloud computing on a very limited scale. When you rely on network services you are subject to anything that happens to the network from someone crashing their car into your cable connection box, to having a remote server in another part of the world crash for whatever reason. As the author of the E-Week articles says, "You might get shut down [at any time] using the cloud. Just manage it."
So where is your sense of security because you are using DropBox.com or Mozy.com? Just remember that online storage is merely another way of backing up your data and is not a panacea for all of the storage problems. It is still necessary for you to use multiple backup methods; CDs, DVDs, hard drives, flash drives and also to put the storage in multiple locations.