Cloud computing means you can store your data in web applications and access it from any browser, anywhere—but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a backup plan. Safeguard your data when a storm’s a-brewing in the cloud with these tools.
Next time your favourite web site is down or you’re locked out of an account, make sure you’ve got the crucial info you need where you can get to it: on your computer.
“But I don’t need backup if my data’s in the cloud,” you say. “Big companies with lots of servers are better at backup than little old me could ever be.” That’s true, but cloud computing does come with risks. Depending on an external service to host, update, and maintain the software you love and the data you need is both the cloud’s advantage and disadvantage: you’re putting your stuff on computers you don’t control at a single point of access (or failure). Companies get shut down or bought, accounts get locked up, servers (and you) go offline. If you store your email, photos, documents, contacts, bookmarks and journal entries in the cloud, there are easy ways to back up all that information from popular online services to your computer. You know, just in case.
Back Up Your Gmail
Back Up Your Flickr Account
Back Up Your Google Docs
Mac and Linux users should check out the geekier Python script, GDataCopier (original post). It requires futzing at the command line, but since it’s a script you can set it to update your backup copy with new or updated documents on a regular basis with cron and forget it.
Back Up Your Twitter Account
Command line lovers can use this clever method to download their tweet XML via cURL. Alternately, web application Backup My Tweets does just that and lets you download your tweets in HTML, PDF or JSON format, with a gotcha: you have to tweet about Backup My Tweets in order to use the free trial. We posted about tweet backup solution Tweetake, which outputs your tweets in a CSV file, but be warned: Tweetake requires you enter your Twitter username and password on their site, which isn’t the most secure option the Twitter API offers. (Don’t enter your Twitter password anywhere other than Twitter.com itself; if you do to use a Twitter-related service, change it immediately afterward.) For more Twitter archiving options, check out the social media experts’ picks over at ReadWriteWeb.
Back Up Your Facebook Account
Back Up Your Blog (Tumblr, WordPress, and Others)
Tumblr users should check out this handy tumble-log backup utility, which sucked in and spit out 272 of my tumblelog’s posts in a flash. Folks hosting their own WordPress installation should check out the WP-DB-Backup plug-in, which emails you or saves regular backups of your blog’s database. I personally have restored my blog using output from this plug-in, but my fellow editor The How-To Geek had a bad experience with the plug-in. He recommends backing up your web server with rsync and a regular mysqldump command.
If your blog is hosted at Blogger or another service, you can use a web site copying utility to spider its pages and save them as HTML to your computer.
Did we miss any of your favourite cloud data backup services? How do you keep control of your important files while still enjoying the benefits of the cloud? Tell us in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, wishes you sunny skies—but be prepared in case of rain. Her feature Smarterware appears every Wednesday on Lifehacker.