Now that I have spent the last 24 days prolifically cranking out 30 Days With...Google Docs blog posts and feature articles on various subjects, I have a fair amount of content built up in Google Docs. So, the question I inevitably ask myself is "hey, what happens if Google crashes and my data disappears?"
What's that you say? You thought part of the point of the cloud was that it is where you put your data to protect it from disaster? Google has redundant backup to multiple data centers, so I have nothing to fear?
Well, yes. It is true that for businesses and consumers that have crucial data stored locally, the cloud makes a great storage solution for backup data. It is ostensibly secure--although its up to you to do the research and make sure your online data is secure. It is off site, so whatever catastrophe or natural disaster that might occur and wipe out your local data won't get your backup data at the same time. But, the cloud isn't without some risks of its own.
There have been some high-profile outages of cloud services recently that have resulted in lost data. And, I'm not talking about cloud services from rinky-dink, fly-by-night providers--I'm talking about major names like Microsoft and Amazon, or even Google losing customer data. Stuff happens.
And, keep in mind that it doesn't have to be a fire or flood that wipes out your data. What if you have a critical spreadsheet shared with an entire team of users and one person accidentally deletes it from Google Docs?
Well, you could use a service like Spanning Backup. Spanning Backup syncs and backs up your Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts (Gmail backup is supposedly coming soon). Of course, then your backup data is still in the cloud--just someone else's cloud. And, Spanning Backup uses Amazon Web Services which just recently suffered a major outage.
I like Spanning Backup, and I think a service like that makes good sense, but I wouldn't rely on it entirely. Just as I suggest that businesses and consumers use cloud data storage to backup critical data, I suggest reversing that process and backing up your data from Google Docs to a hard drive locally. That way you know you have a copy even if Google Docs suffers an outage and is temporarily unavailable, or if the unthinkable happens and your data on Google Docs actually gets wiped out. I recommend using something like Memeo Connect to automatically sync data between the desktop and Google Docs. That way you know you still have your data no matter what goes on with Google Docs.