Backup online services with Backupify

The Cloud. Personally I hate the word, yet I'm using it every hour of the day (when I'm not asleep). Especially my Android device helps me appreciating cloud services, to have all my emails, calendars, tasks and notes available within a few seconds. These cloud services often provide decent search capabilities and I assume they take care of making backups at a regular basis. Previously, a hardware failure could end up being disastrous without a decent backup policy, nowadays it has become merely an inconvenience. The degree of inconvenience depends on the cost of a hardware replacement. The cloud lives on and still has all my data.

But there is one big assumption in all of this: these services are always available and will stay until eternity to store my data. Which is not quite reasonable if you think slightly longer about this.

Even one of the giant players in this field, Google, messed up twice last February. It must have been a shock to all users who realized that their calendars did not contain their appointments anymore. Or maybe worse, to see you GMail account has reverted to 'factory settings'. Both problems only happened to a small percentage of users (<1%), still we're talking about thousands and thousands of users which were affected by this. While Google is strong in redundancy and making backups, they are considerably weaker with respect to communication. During their 'downtime', the affected users were left in the dark for a bit.
But anything can happen with your data, which could make it unaccessible all of a sudden. Yahoo might decide to terminate Flickr (I wouldn't be surprised if they did), a Google data center or two may sink into the sea during a heavy earthquake or Facebook goes bankrupt. At that point you would be glad if you made regular backups of your cloud data.

However, making your own backups is quite time consuming. My Flickr account and GMail account alone are each almost 2 GB of data at the time of writing. To stay up to date I should synchronize regularly, which could be a bit challenging to do this efficiently in terms of time and (disk) space.

But then I discovered Backupify, which does the backup job for you in the background. Once set up, it will make nightly backups (or weekly in case of free plans) of your data at Google, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and a few other services. This data is copied from your account and stored in Amazon S3.

The service stands out in simplicity: creating an account and setting up my services to backup went smooth. If possible, Backupify requests access to your services with OAuth, so there's no need to give away all your credentials. Most services were fully backed up within a few days, but my data heavy accounts (GMail and Flickr) took considerably longer to finish. After about 1.5 month most of my GMail account has been backed up, while a small percentage of Flickr has been stored. This is mostly due to the huge influx of people who signed up for this service after Google messed up big time.

Still, I shouldn't complain. I have the service for free for one year (which normally costs $5/month). And it does its job, all other services are backed up almost daily, and GMail and Flickr also will when their initial backup has been completed. One worry less.

Backupify sounds promising,

Backupify sounds promising, I should definitely check it out. Losing the contents of my Google Calendar account during an entire day posed a major problem. It didn't help that my phone synchronizes the appointments regularly; it actually thought I had manually removed all my appointments through Google Calendar and thus it 'conveniently' removed them from my phone's memory too.

Managing all your personal backups can become very tedious, I can't imagine what it would be like for a company. Ironically, Backupify provides accounts for "government backups" too. It just makes me wonder... What if an earthquake or flood would hit the datacenter of our government? Would they lose all income tax data or general population data? It wouldn't surprise me if they did Smile.

Still I should say that I

Still I should say that I have my doubts about the restore process. Google Calendar is easy though, one click and a few minutes later you have a calendar file in your mailbox. Restoring GMail is probably more problematic, you can look into all individual messages and see its metadata, but there's no way to easily restore those. According to their FAQ, that should be implemented "very soon".

And with respect to our government, I have as much faith in them as you when it comes to IT. But probably one IT manager is smart enough to make a weekly backup of the data and store it safely at home on a USB stick.