Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wakeup Call for Online Service Users...

Ma.gnolia is down. If that means nothing to you, please keep reading.

"Ma.gnolia is a free, public service for saving links to websites. Most users rely on it as a bookmarking storage service, or a place to save links that they may want to revisit later. Links can be saved privately or shared publicly, so that they can be browsed by other users looking for new destinations. Many people prefer to use bookmark sharing services like Ma.gnolia rather than saving bookmarks locally — the main advantage being that while your browser's bookmarks are stored on your machine, you can access bookmarks you share on the web from any computer with an internet connection." (Description from's Blog, Epicenter)

Still don't care? Here's why you should. Magnolia is just one example of a web-based service many of us use to organize parts of our digital life. And if you are anything like me, your digital life represents a sizable chunk of your professional and personal life. If a major site like Magnolia can suffer a data meltdown such as this, it is not beyond the realm of belief to think that others might as well.

In an average day, it is not unusual for me to:
  1. Email documents, presentations, project files, etc. to myself in Gmail so I have access to them at home and work.
  2. Upload large files to my Skydrive account so I can download them from another location or share them with others.
  3. Upload pictures to Picasa to keep and share with others.
  4. Upload videos to Youtube.
  5. Work on shared documents via Google Docs.
  6. Post information to this blog.
This is not a complete list, but you get the idea. On any given day, if I were to visit one of the sites listed above and learn that all of my data had been lost, the ramifications would be unthinkable. In the past few years, as companies like Google and Microsoft are literally giving away gigabytes of storage space for free, I have moved away from transferring files with USB drives in favor of storing massing amounts of data online. This latest tragedy for Magnolia makes me wonder if I shouldn't take a step back and reevaluate the way I store and manage my digital data.

Imagine if these sites lost their data all of a sudden:
  • MySpace/Facebook
  • Tinyurl -- imagine the effect it would have in Twitter, where tinyurls are the link sharing method of choice!
  • Flickr
What about you? Where are you storing your digital life? It might be time to reevaluate some bad habits. Don't say I didn't warn you.


  1. Google, they clearly are working on ways for you to back up at home with the new off line gmail as well as storinf your online stuff at multiple locations for redunancy in case your data is lost in one place it still exists at another. Nothing is full proof but they have proven to have some understanding how we depend on them.

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