Will your data always be there?

People tend to believe that Web operators will keep their data safe in perpetuity

This sentence from Technology Review’s article – Fire in the Library is a good reminder on how vulnerable we are with our data and the useful information stored on the Web.

Coins in stone purse

Photo by TruShu (Flickr)

Try out this test by answering the following questions:

  1. You posted your photos online to share with your friends
  2. You posted status updates on a social network
  3. You write a blog
  4. You have a personal web page
  5. You put your documents online
  6. You posted some stuff in an online forum
  7. You signed up for Google Wave

You will have lost your data or suffered some inconvenience if you used

  1. Yahoo Photos
  2. Google Buzz
  3. Vox
  4. Geocities
  5. Yahoo Briefcase
  6. StarWars.com forums
  7. Google Wave

Last year, I nearly suffered the same experience again when Atlassian announced that they are launching Atlassian Answers and it will replace Atlassian Forums. The Atlassian Forums had plenty of useful knowledge contributed by many experts over the years. Thankfully, Atlassian decided to retain  Atlassian Forum in read-only mode. Many other people were not so lucky. Their information was lost because the companies operating the sites have closed down.

Nowadays, I have changed the way I handle useful information or those which I spent much time googling. My previous method is to just to bookmark the page or include the link to the web page in the Wiki page as reference.

Now, I will copy the important steps from the web pages together with the link of the source. This enables me to reference the steps in future when I need it. It will be there even if the original web site is taken offline. And I can always go back to the web page for more updated information, supplementary details or other comments.

In conclusion, my recommendation is that the public web services should be used for their convenience to share and access information. We should not treat it as a storeroom for our important information.

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