The news went hot quickly on the internet, everybody seemed discussing the MegaUpload issue, even traditional media picked up on the news and yet the questions remains: How to get your data back when a cloud storage service such as MegaUpload dies? And also: is it safe to store and backup your data with a cloud storage/online backup service such as SugarSync, Dropbox, MyPCBackup or Backblaze? I’ll give you an answer in this post but I’d love to hear your thoughts/questions/comments on the issue.
MegaUpload the story and why it’s different
I don’t want to go too much into detail with MegaUpload’s story as it has been covered in depth already. However, the MegaUpload owners as well as part of the staff made a fortune with this service founded in 2005. Prosecutors claim that the site made more than $175 million. The amount of money earned by MegaUpload is not the problem obviously. The problem is, that most of it has been earned based on copyright infringement.
The MegaUpload case is huge and involves multiple countries such as the US, Canada, UK, Hong Kong, Netherlands and also Germany. The CEO and other staff has been arrested and search warrants were issued in multiple countries.
Why it’s different
MegaUpload used to be one of the major sites on the Internet with billions of page views and uncountable users. Though claiming that they would do everything possible to avoid helping the distribution of copyright material, MegaUpload became a harbor for the common file sharer. Little has been done to really avoid illegal distribution of copyrighted material. And the owners damn well knew about it.
Other filesharing services, such as Rapidshare, Filesonic, or wupload are quite prone to be used as illegal filesharing hubs as they offer 100% anonymity and generous file upload caps for free users. Rapidshare, being one of the first filesharing services of that kind, has had trouble in the past because it wasn’t doing enough against copyright infringement. It has long been one of the most used file sharing services. However, they recently changed their business model in favor of copyright holders. Therefore, files should be quite safe there.
What’s the problem?
Internet pirates lost petabytes of data, so what? It was all pirated anyway. Yes, that’s right. The issue is not about illegal files that have been lost in the ether. It is about all the users who stored there family videos, photos and other files legally on MegaUpload. Now, they lost everything if they didn’t have a secondary backup. In the MegaUpload case everything has been measured by the same yardstick. The service has been taken down by the regulators and very likely the data is gone for good.
Cloud storage services claim to be very secure and reliable. Also, one has to clearly differentiate between file hosts, and cloud storage or online backup services. For me, file hosts are services like Rapidshare, MegaUpload, filesonic, fileserve, mediafire, and others. All based on the same principle that makes it very easy to upload files, sometimes even without registration required.
Cloud storage services are different. To me, cloud storage services are Dropbox, Backblaze, myPCBackup, Carbonite and so on. They are primarily intended to protect and backup your personal data and do the occasional file share. The difference is that most of the time they limit the bandwidth a file can be shared, thus avoiding excessive sharing offer the same file.
Backblaze for example, offers unlimited online backup and they pretty much cannot avoid that users store copyrighted material they downloaded illegally from the Internet. The difference is that it is unlikely that this data gets distributed over the Internet. Therefore, regulators won’t take down these kind of services.
But there are obviously other dangers such as bankruptcy. No company is protected against bankruptcy. The question will be: how does the company handle the bankruptcy and the files of its users? It is hard to say how likely it is that after a bankruptcy the company will send you your data as they have many other issues to deal with.
Best practices with cloud storage enter data
If you read my site regularly you know that I’m an advocate for having multiple backups. I am using a triple backup strategy: I have a local backup with my TimeMachine and TimeCapsule that stores my data wirelessly. Also, I am a paying customer of Carbonite and Backblaze meaning I have two off-site backups in place in case something happens to my hardware.
Though I do have a lot of trust in the backup services I use, I would never rely on a single source of backup. And you shouldn’t either. Christina Warren from Mashable suggests the same thing in her article what MegaUpload teaches us about the cloud.
To avoid disappointment always combine local backups with online backups and you should be safe in terms of data loss. Even if your cloud storage service is being taken down you can always rely on your local backup.
What’s your story?
I’d love to hear your story! Did you have important data stored with MegaUpload? What is you backup strategy?
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