Don't fully trust the cloud, but I use it

by Peter Marus

Google, the biggest company on the Internet and internet services, has a saying "don't be evil".  They try to act as this is their credo and they always follow that.  For the most part, to be honest, they have.  I say for the most part because as much good they do, don't forget they are a publicly held company, and have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders.  So they do some things that aren't cool.  An example came to my attention as I listened to the No Agenda Podcast (which I wish you who read this do as well.  The hosts were talking about the news letter they send out to people telling them what's going on with the show and preview what topics they are going to discuss.  The hosts were noticing less and less people were reading their newsletters (they use MailChimp, a mass emailing service and they can track how many open the email).  After a couple shows, people responded to them that the newsletter email was either automatically put by Google (or whatever web based email service) in the spam folder, or wasn't even delivered.  A little digging into the subject showed that Google and other web email providers (the free ones), take payments from marketing companies to promote their emails, while any other mass email won't be prioritized to be received by the people wanting it.  It's a sort of "hey, you want this delivered pay up".  It's a shady thing that most internet companies do.  Ever wonder why not all your Facebook or Twitter posts don't show up in your friends timeline, while ads surely do?  This is why.  It's a grimy way to monetize your product, and it's extortion if you are a small marketing company.

I've noticed that other companies emails or even people's emails I should get in my inbox either never show up or always end up in the spam folder.  Gmail, along with the other free email companies are a convenient thing, but "free" means you pay with allowing them to scan and advertise to you in your email and market you to marketing firms in order to advertise to you.  After a few times in the situation where certain emails are prioritized that shouldn't, I decided to not stay "all in" with Google or any cloud service.

What I am going to do is the following as far as my cloud services I use.  I will continue to use them, but in these ways:

Email: I will keep my Gmail account for access to other Google services, but also the "junk/spam" email account (and the one I give out to people I don't think deserve my new email account).  I"m going to my domain registrar and paying for an email account. 

Storage: I will use Google drive/docs for storage, but also keep local copies of whatever I have up there.

Pictures: I sync my phone's photos with Google+, but I'm going to download them to keep on my computer.  I'll also on occasion delete all the cloud ones 

Backup: I use Carbonite, but I also have a hard drive in my computer for backup and images.  Eventually I may try to make compressed drive images to keep on DVDs or USB sticks.

Media: I have local copies of my music.  I use Spotify for music discovery and eventually I'll buy the music I find and enjoy on there to have a copy on my PC. 

I don't fully trust cloud computing, but I see a some good with it.  I is a great idea, but I think people need to try to keep from depending on them for everything.  Just because it is free, means it isn't.  Look at any Terms of Service for most of the services, you "pay" by giving up a level of privacy and allow them to sell you to marketing firms.  If you are cool with that, then it shouldn't be an issue.  I don't really have a ton of issues with it: they got to make money somehow.  I want them more transparent with what they do behind the scenes as well as how much they will fight government requests for information.

I ask those who read this to think about what your use and put in cloud services, and try to figure out how comfortable you are with it.  I also hope you think about other alternatives and back up strategies should these services shut down suddenly or get bought and changed, or God forbid if someone steals your log in info.  Be smart and don't put your full trust in a "free" product or a "convenient" product or service.  That's all I ask.