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Backing Up Your Social Media



Of course, we are all told to eat our veg­eta­bles, do our exer­cise, and backup our computers.

But I’m here today to tell you to backup your social media pres­ence. If you are like me, you have pic­tures of fam­ily on Facebook, Flickr, and else­where, so have e-mail in G-mail, you tweet, and maybe you have a blog. How can you ensure that you never lose a major com­po­nent of your life in the cloud and in social media?

Let me tell you a story. Mirco Wilhelm, a tech­nol­o­gist and user of Flickr, with approx­i­mately 5 years of images (5,000) up in Flickr in a paid FlickrPro account, com­plained about inap­pro­pri­ate re-use of his pho­tos. Instead of dis­abling the account in ques­tion, the sup­port engi­neer deleted Mirco’s acount, with all of the images and meta­data, never to be recov­ered. Mirco writes about this in his [warn­ing f-bomb in the arti­cle title and URL] blog,  and the story has also been picked up in the LA Times blog (“Flickr fum­ble? 4,000 pho­tos deleted, never to be return, user says”). It seems that he has the images in a backup of some sort, but he does not have the meta­data, and he also has cre­ated numer­ous links to these images from other places, and none of these will work with­out a sub­stan­tial invest­ment of time on his part.

None of us can know how reli­able any par­tic­u­lar ser­vice will be in our par­tic­u­lar case. In the days of Ma Bell, there was a goal of ser­vice: five nines, or 99.999% planned uptime. That meant, when the phone com­pany did not have a planned out­age for ser­vice or upgrade, their sys­tem would be up 99.999% of the time. It sounds great, but even this very demand­ing goal didn’t mean the sys­tem was per­fect. It meant that the GOAL was to be down no more than 5 min­utes a year.

I can­not say it any more plainly than this: Systems fail.

So, you want a backup, not only for your per­sonal com­puter, but also for your data in the cloud, some of which has only seen your com­puter in the con­text of your browser. has impressed me as a very ver­sa­tile cloud backup ser­vice. It can backup:

  • Gmail
  • Google Docs
  • Google Sites
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Contacts
  • Picasa
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Flickr
  • Blogger
  • Zoho

A free account gets you 2 GB of stor­age is Amazon’s S3, weekly back­ups of up to 5 accounts. For $4.99 a month, you can backup 25 accounts, total­ing up to 20 GB, on a nightly basis. It allows for a fair amount of peace of mind.

Would this have helped Mirco Wilhelm? No, not really. He would have had his Flickr images, and some of his meta­data, but he would still have a lot of re-assembly ahead. But with­out this kind of ser­vice, you could lose source con­tent, espe­cially on sites like Facebook, where a friend might take down a photo you still wanted to see.

(I note that also picked up the Wilhelm story. In their blog post they claim that one third of data loss is due to human error.)

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