Storms in the clouds leave users up creek without a paddle

by Volker Weber

Weeks after Amazon's S3 cloud storage service went down due to a software error, and in the midst of continued MobileMe issues, two more online services have suffered problems. Gmail was unavailable for a couple of hours on Monday because of a software glitch, and online storage service The Linkup (TLU) shut down its service last Friday after losing nearly half of the data it had stored. The appeal of these services is obvious—they should be a reliable, scalable, cost-effective resource you can access from anywhere. But the recent disruptions show some of the risks of online services. What do you do when they go down?

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[Thanks, Pieterjan]


Hi Volker.

I switch Notes to Island (Local) and continue working, uninterrupted.


Eric Mack, 2008-08-13

The magic word is sync.
So the local machines become the backup strategy when central units fail. I guess local apps (RIA/RCP) suddenly look good.
:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2008-08-13

I backup my data from the cloud to my readynas, with ups and rsync to another server.

Gerald Schmidhuber, 2008-08-13

Indeed, sync is the answer. And it applies to all clients, whether they use NRPC, MAPI or IMAP, rsync, etc.

Volker Weber, 2008-08-13

Sync may work for storage services, even though it certainly takes much of the cost advantage if you have to keep the capacity on your own systems. But what if you have an application that relies on EC^2? That may be pretty complicated to sync and then you really loose pretty much all of the advantages of the cloud.

Ragnar Schierholz, 2008-08-13

OK, I understand syncing is the answer but now just a question:
how do you guys sync your (IMAP) gmail accounts locally?
Let's say, for instance, I want copies of my messages on a file server on the home LAN.
I immagine there could be several ways to do this.
Any suggestion as how to do it keeping things real simple?

Thanks for advising..

Pieterjan Lansbergen, 2008-08-14

Sync isn't simple. If it is simple to use, there is a lot of though "under the hood". Notes was the first app that got sync right. However at that time Client to server using something that is controlled on both ends (a.k.a. the same software family) was good enough.
Today it is way more complex. You got devices with different capacities and capabilities on different platforms. You need to keep data in sync and documents and bits and pieces you don't control or own (e.g. calendar of events). There are many protocols as Volker pointed out by just naming the mail protocols. You can add iCal, vCard, Atom as formats with no firm sync protocol around.
Sync moves computing to the edges of the cloud. This is what Ray is after at Microsoft. Done right sync is the answer for a lot of issues, but we're still quite away from "the mother of all protocols and format exchanges".
:-) stw

Stephan H. Wissel, 2008-08-14

Pieterjan, IMAP clients cache messages locally. IMAP is not intended to sync mail between servers. If you use an IMAP client such as with GMail, it will download the messages and cache them locally. You can backup these messages with Time Machine to a second hard disk.

IMAP also lets you copy mails to other mailboxes. If you have a second account on a local server, you would be able to just drag them over.

Volker Weber, 2008-08-14

Volker, as you are mentioning Time Machine, let me take this opportunity to say that after using it for a couple of months I have now changed my mind about it.
Initially I was skeptical but today I believe that Apple mostly succeeded in making backups (and recovery) trivial. It really takes all complexity out of creating (synced) backups.

I have just ordered a new 500 GB Time Capsule at the Apple Store and look forward to see it in action with Time Machine on my IMAP GMail mailboxes as well.

Pieterjan Lansbergen, 2008-08-14

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