Call me cynical, but I’ve always hated “the cloud”, maybe it was due to my love of personal servers that a person (me) would have complete control over. Or maybe that it was the fact that you have to essentially hand over all your data, user base, posts, comments etcetera over to a third party company that unless you comb through the terms and conditions, can do what they like with it.
My first venture into this came about before it was even called “the cloud”, I was setting up a guestbook system to work on my otherwise static only website, this meant signing up to one of those “guestbook websites” such as Html Gear, which later became part of Lycos. In those days of 2001+ my biggest bugbear was the adverts that always accompanied a free guestbook setup.
Even though the static web pages I created with links to guestbook sites have long past, I have enjoyed reminiscing the past posts on the guestbook of my creations, made possible only by looking through the backups of old websites and extracting the obscure URL from the HTML.
Alas, on my recent nostalgic trip of past websites I was met by this handy message:
Thanks I thought, my piece of data that I thought would carry me till my twilight years has been suddenly ripped from my heart. A bit dramatic, but that’s what I thought.
Travelling back to early 2001, I simply didn’t have the resource to host a guestbook locally, whether it be with hosted solutions that did not allow dynamic code (remember Geocities), or my own first home server that did not have the power to process code without time-outs.
Since then I quickly learnt to try my best at hosting forums (the then next step after guestbooks) locally on my own server, free to dispose of the data as I wish. In the years that follow I realise it may be a pain to find/write the code to display the data as it was, but I will always have that data close to me, free to read the raw database and exercise my nostalgia.
Furthermore, this event takes me back to when me and my peers used a service called MSN Groups, those of you that remember the acronym MSN assume that it is now doomed. It is, with all of our social commentary and all photos since deleted “cos it’s on MSN so we don’t need to keep our own local copy”.
Be warned, the cloud may be a quick, cheap and easy alternative to learning things properly, but rest assured the data you create WILL NOT be around forever, or even long enough for you to get bored of it.
If you run a website where you are dealing with data, guestbook, forums etc. Get your own server! Or least a service that allows you to pull all the data to a local copy.