Friday, March 06, 2009

The End of Yahoo! Briefcase: a Cautionary Tale?

There is a school of thought that says that the best way to back up your documents is to find a secure internet site. The theory is that you can access your documents from anywhere in the world as long as you have a web browser. There is no need for multiple flash drives or CDs, or other things that moth and rust, or the twenty-first century equivalent, might destroy. I must admit to having had some sympathy with this school of thought. Material that I have had available up on the web somewhere secure has often been a great help to me. Such documents withstand computer crashes, data losses, accidents and disasters happening on the laptop, the PC or wherever. But this March brings a cautionary tale.

I was looking for an old article I had written this week and couldn't find it in any of the standard places I look for my old stuff. So I turned to Yahoo! Briefcase which I used to use a good deal back in the day. It was part of the "my yahoo" suite which I used to enjoy before it turned out that Google did all the same things but much better. The following message greeted me there:
Briefcase will be closing on March 30, 2009.
You must download or delete your files before this date.
For more information, please see Help.
This was the first that I had heard that my 30MB of data was about to vanish. If I had not happened to pop back to the site, all this would have gone for good without my getting the chance to save it. So here is the moral of the story: don't assume that your online back-ups are safe for ever. One day even Google may no longer be with us.

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