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The Cloud: Convenient Until a Stranger Nukes Your Files 262 262

jfruh writes "Thanks to a plethora of cloud storage accounts, Dan Tynan thought his days of carrying a thumb drive around with him and worrying about email stripping out his attachments were over. But that was before he discovered that his account and all the files in it had vanished without a trace. With tech support coming up empty, Tynan had to put on his journalist hat to track down the bizarre sequence of events that ended with his account handed over to another user, who didn't ask for it and didn't even know who Tynan was."
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The Cloud: Convenient Until a Stranger Nukes Your Files

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  • Complacency (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cyberpocalypse (2845685) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @11:10AM (#45212567)

    Unsure why people are moved to throw their data into the hands of someone (company) that would never treat their data sacred. I don't care what argument you put forth, no one is going to care (security wise) about your data as vigilant as you would (and should). Math wise, the cloud makes no sense to me, even on the free model.

    1) wait for you to download your data over the Interwebs (mobile you say... tick tock)
    2) There is NO GUARANTEE someone in the company isn't looking at your data or selling it. You're simply trusting they won't

    Storage is dirt cheap. 2TB drives are like what 100-200 US per pop give or take. They're compact enough to throw in a messenger bag along with a laptop. Data availability is much faster than downloading it over the wire. Throw on crypto (say Truecrypt) and you have a decent amount of security. Only concern, is your HD goes bad. In either event, another backup 2TB is 100-200. Cloud pay for play? @ 10.00 per month, its STILL the cost if not more than buying your own device.

  • Re:Moron (Score:4, Interesting)

    by barlevg (2111272) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @11:23AM (#45212709)
    I love the concept of being able to access one's files anywhere. But there's no need to do it via "the cloud." All you need is a home machine that can be always on connected to a reliable internet. I realize that ISPs frown upon this sort of thing [], but until Comcast tells me to stop, this is the best option to give me the functionality of the "cloud" with all the control I want over my own damn content.
  • Re:Moron (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @11:24AM (#45212715)

    What an idiot.

    His profile at the bottom of the page makes it doubly so:

    Author Dan Tynan has been writing about Internet privacy for the last 3,247 years. He wrote a book on the topic
    for O'Reilly Media (Computer Privacy Annoyances, now available for only $15.56 at Amazon -- order yours today) and edited a series of articles on Net privacy for PC World that were finalists for a National Magazine Award.

    Quoting from the Amazon page for his book:

    From the moment you're born, you enter the data stream-from birth certificates to medical records to what you bought on Amazon last week. As your dossier grows, so do the threats, from identity thieves to government snoops to companies who want to sell you something. Computer Privacy Annoyances shows you how to regain control of your life. You'll learn how to keep private information private, stop nosy bosses, get off that incredibly annoying mailing list, and more. Unless you know what data is available about you and how to protect it, you're a sitting duck. Computer Privacy Annoyances is your guide to a safer, saner, and more private life.

    Either he doesn't follow his own advice, or his is actually *dumber* than a box of rocks.

  • Stuff happens (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swillden (191260) <> on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @11:26AM (#45212733) Homepage Journal

    This is rather unfortunate for him, of course, particularly if he didn't have a backup anywhere else (duh!), but I'm sure we'll get a lot of slashdotters saying "See, this is why I'll never use the cloud!", and that's silly. Now, there are other valid reasons to avoid cloud storage (e.g. privacy and security, assuming you're not encrypting the data), but reliability really isn't one of them. Thumb drives die, get lost or get damaged, hard drives fail... there is no perfectly-reliable storage medium, but I'll posit that a good cloud storage provider has a much lower failure rate than anything you can manage yourself.

    The solution, as always, is backups. Any one storage medium may fail, but the odds of several of them failing simultaneously is very low. Personally, my most important files live on a RAID-6 array with a hot spare on my home file server, and on my laptop's SSD, on my workstation's HD, and on Google Drive. There is a fair amount of low-priority stuff which lives only on Google Drive. It gets automatically synced to multiple machines, but that wouldn't help if someone else got access to my account and deleted my files (of course, I use two-factor auth). It's still better than what I'd do without a cloud service, which is that I'd have those files only on my laptop.

    Hmm... It occurs to me that it'd be trivial to write a small script that uses rdiff-backup to copy the contents of my Drive folder to another folder, then run that in a cron job. Then I'd have automatic, persistent synchronization to multiple devices. I think I'll do that right now :-)

    Bottom line: This is a sad story, but not a reason to avoid cloud storage. It is a reason to recommend backups. Especially completely automated, effortless backups.

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. -- John Kenneth Galbraith