Thursday, May 9, 2013

Cloud Storage?

If you want to know what "cloud storage" is please read this explanation on Wikipedia.

I get asked quite often for my opinion on cloud storage including backup solutions "in the cloud". The following begins with a real life experience that some lady had with Google. 

I know from my own attempts to try cloud storage that other services are not that much different - and the legal underpinnings are the same for all anyway. Here we go:

One recent Thursday morning, a dedicated Google user logged into her email and made an alarming discovery. Instead of opening the Inbox, Google directed her to a notice:
[Your] Account has been disabled . . . . In most cases, accounts are disabled if we believe you have violated either the Google Terms of Service, product-specific Terms of Service . . . . or product-specific policies . . . . it might be possible to regain access to your account.
  • the terms and policies offered no clues
  • no phone numbers to call, no tickets to request help
Google -
  • - manages a whopping 343 million active Google+ accounts
  • - operates in 130 languages
  • - strategically avoids the crush of users by offering little direct customer service.
  • - reserves the right to “terminate your account at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.”
  • Phone calls to Mountain View [Google HQ] land in a labyrinth of recorded messages that inevitably lead to one of a man, sounding quite exasperated shutting the call down with a “Thank-you-goodbye”.
  • - is a company with $50 billion in revenues
  • - has the modest aim to “organize the world’s information
  • It seems implicit that in allowing Google to use one's data we should rely on Google to hold on to it and to give it back.
Reality -
  • - Google assumes no responsibility over user data
  • - Google is not required by law to do so 
  • - Google limits its total liability for stolen data, lost data, anything, “TO THE AMOUNT YOU PAID US TO USE THE SERVICES” (yes, in all caps), which might mean as much as nothing for the most commonly used free accounts.
  • - Google reserves the right to take away or vaporize our data for any reason
  • - Google also reserves the right to discontinue services, the means to prohibit any access to the data, whenever it wants.
  • users are easily discarded
  • Google’s priority is preventing data from falling into the wrong hands, not ensuring it is always available to the right hands
My personal conclusion: I don't use cloud storage.

Naturally your mileage may vary. But I recommend you really thoroughly and together with your lawyer work through the details of all applicable Terms Of Service, End User License Agreements and the like.

As usual I welcome comments and suggestions right here in the blog. Thank you in advance.

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