Having your data in the cloud can be a good way to avoid data loss in the event of a hardware failure. Not having control over your own backups also has its downsides, however. Engadget reports that 150,000 unlucky Gmail users became keenly aware of that fact yesterday morning, logging into their accounts only to find them entirely emptied out.
The accounts reportedly looked as if they'd been reset, prompting users with welcome messages normally reserved for new accounts. Google quickly provided updates on its App Status dashboard. The latest update, as of 7:40 PM on Sunday night, sounds reasonably hopeful:
Google Mail service has already been restored for some users, and we expect a resolution for all users in the near future. Please note this time frame is an estimate and may change.
This issue affects less than 0.08% of the Google Mail userbase. Google engineers are working to restore full access. Affected users will be temporarily unable to sign in while we repair their accounts.
Neither of my Gmail accounts seem to have been hit, but this little incident still makes me feel a tad uneasy. Cloud storage is, after all, only as reliable as the cloud it's on—if the cloud bursts, well, there's rain. And possibly lightning.
Yeah, that metaphor made more sense in my head.
Point is, I'd love it if Google provided an easy, straightforward way to backup user data locally. My personal Gmail account only takes up about 600MB, which I'd be able to download in a few minutes and upload back into the cloud in an hour and a half in case of an emergency. Right now, though, if Google loses my data, it's gone for good.