The LossI have been using Dropbox for some time and decided to compare some other methods of online backup. I have used several different programs. I had about 18 GBs of photos in Microsoft's SkyDrive. I had been using SkyDrive for some time. Editing the photos on different computers and then backing them up to hard drives. Today, I got an error message when I started up my laptop that SkyDrive could not find the drive on my computer. I had to resign into Windows Live and prove that I was an authorized user. When I looked at my SkyDrive, all of my photos were gone. Vanished.
The InvestigationLet me make sure you understand. I am totally skeptical of any kind of storage. I have backups of backups and give copies of my data to my children. I use online storage as a convenience and maintain local copies of the documents on different computers. I use hard drives primarily and have multiple backups of everything on my computer. That said, I began to investigate Microsoft's SkyDrive. There is a standard "free" amount of storage and then you have to pay for additional space. The same thing is true with almost every other type of online storage. I found Google Drive to be particularly worrisome. They have changed the rules about their storage this year (2012) and made it more than ten times as expensive as previously. There are so many loopholes in their storage plans that you could lose your data at any time. See Old storage plans vs. new storage plans. Dropbox just added some storage to its "premium" plans but there are no guarantees that any of these companies wouldn't change the rules, pricing structure or anything else about their online storage for any reason especially if it is in their interest to do so.
By the way, did you know that Google includes every photo you upload to your blog as part of your online storage? Did you know that your Picasa Web Album is part of the storage included in your Google Drive?
The ConclusionI reconfigured SkyDrive and reloaded my photos online. By the way, to upload 18 GBs takes many hours. I am going to be even more conservative in my backup practices. I am going to make sure that I have local copies of all of my documents stored online and make sure that I use the online storage as a convenience not as "permanent" storage of my data. This is not just a problem with "free" online storage. In the case of Google, I pay for additional storage.
Now, what if you say to me, I use Carbonite or Mozy or whatever? Are you really sure you are any more secure?