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Store Your Data in the 'Cloud' ?

Apple has given ample warning, but has now shut down Mobile Me (which was rife with bugs during its sullied existence, so I abandoned it long ago).

It’s hardly the first time that an online service shuts down, and I’m not picking on Apple in particular here. It’s more of a general issue over time. Apple has provided a migration path to iCloud, but not every service ends so neatly. Not that iCloud does anything useful for me either, and it’s slow as mud on the road (mail).

Which raises the question: how do you pick a provider for 'cloud' storage or similar services?

  • Does the provider have a written guarantee of service for 2, 5, 10 years — or no policy at all?
  • Read the fine print— your photos or data might simply be discarded if you stop paying the fees, or the service shuts down.
  • What compelling problems are being solved by using the 'cloud'?

I don’t trust any of these guys over the long term.

Even if the service stays available long-term, features/usability/price/suitability for my purposes might cease to be attractive. If I’ve made a substantial investment in learning and integrating with a service, a “new and improved” version might damage that investment. Not very attractive.

Apple in particular has little respect for the customer investment of time and effort in using its software, changing or removing features arbitrarily. Backward compatibility is a non-goal (witness Final Cut X and the complete removal of useful keyboard shortcuts from iPhoto).

If the service is some kind of non-critical adjunct to my regular storage and backups or workflow, and it solves a critical need, then it could be considered. Otherwise, steer clear, or use such services only as “might not be appropriate a year from now” basis.

Case in point, as reported by Thom Hogan on July 3, two days after I wrote the above. As far as I’m concerned, such vague statements as “extended period of time” coupled with a 30 day warning are grounds for classifying Nikon PictureTown as an avoid-at-all-costs offering (I don’t use PictureTown, as there are far better alternatives).

We Don't Want Your Images

July 3 (received email)--"This mail has been sent by Nikon my Picturetown. Dear [email address]. This is an important notice regarding your use of my Picturetown. The my Picturetown account of [email address] has not been logged into for an extended period of time. If you want to continue using my Picturetown, make sure to log in to your account once within 30 days of receiving this mail. You can log in to my Picturetown here. However, if you do not log in to your account within 30 days of this mail being sent, your account will be automatically deleted based on the Terms and Conditions.

Please note if your account is automatically deleted, all image files in My Photos will be deleted."

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