TechPublishing Now MS Certified

TechPublishing Now MS Certified
Professor Robert McMillen, MBA Microsoft Certified Trainer and Solutions Expert

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cloud Computing Gets Stormy as it Drops and Loses Your Data

Cloud Computing Gets Stormy as it Drops and Loses Your Data

By Robert McMillen, Koin’s Tech Guru
Microsoft may have lost something this week that belongs to you, and it’s in the cloud. What is Cloud Computing? If you have an office that stores customer data, or if you have a digital camera or collect lots of music, you have a choice of how to store that data. You can store it in the cloud or on your computer, or both.
Cloud computing is inevitable, but very premature. Cloud Computing (CC) companies say that they will save the day during a disaster. If your hard drive goes bad with all that data on it and you have no backup, then it’s gone forever. Cloud Computing allows you to save all that data to a different location that’s available online.
Prices vary, and there are different ways to do it, so before I recommend whether or not to use the cloud, you should hear about what happened last week. The biggest complaint computer consultants like myself have about CC, is that you don’t personally know who is handling your data. Plus with the recession, many CC companies have gone bankrupt and taken your data with them. We don’t know if they sold it or deleted it, but there is a risk to many that their identities have become compromised.
Microsoft purchased a company that makes phones for T-Mobile a couple of years ago. That company was called Danger, and they lived up to their name. T-Mobile has a different way of storing your contacts, emails, and other data to the Sidekick phones than do most phone companies. They keep it on a server, and if you lose your phone you can get it downloaded to your new phone automatically.
Unbeknownst to all of the unfortunate T-Mobile users, they kept a lot of that phone data on just one server, and they didn’t back it up properly. Eventually, all hard drives fail with a 100% guarantee, and in this case it happened a few days ago. Therefore, all the data went with it. Microsoft is recommending you don’t ever turn off your phone, because when you do, your data will not return. They have no confidence they will be able to restore it. If you are one of these unfortunate phone holders, then take some time to write down all of your contacts and any important personal information that may be on the phone.
Eventually your phone will die and you should have something written down so you can re input the information when it turns back on or you get a new phone. This only affects the Sidekick phones, so if you have any other model, then this doesn’t apply.
So, let’s get back to the concept of Cloud Computing. We have several customers who have dabbled in this area with mixed results. Most people don’t realize that your upload speed on most internet connections is a lot slower than your download speed. This means if you are pushing your data to an online CC company then you will notice a huge drop off in internet performance while it’s running the backups. Should you choose to do this anyway, you can schedule the backups to run at night.
The second most misunderstood thing about CC is that you need to use one that backs up more than just files if you’re counting on this to be your only backup (which I don’t recommend). You need to be able to restore your data and your operating system, your email, your programs, and your Active Directory in a Windows domain. Backing up just your data won’t do that. Only the higher quality backup firms do this and it costs roughly ten times more than a “data only” online company would cost, but it’s worth it.
So why is everyone looking to move to this form of backup? The traditional way of backing up is to use a tape or large hard drive to backup your data every night, and once a week a company would come by your office and swap out your tapes or hard drives. This is not only expensive, but impractical. Using CC to backup your data is automatic and fairly inexpensive, even when dealing with the better quality companies. So where do you get into trouble?
As mentioned earlier, having a company that holds your precious data go out of business is one way to lose your backups. You can also lose it if your internet connection goes down and you need to restore a file or an entire server. Another big problem happens if you have more than 100 GB’s of data to download and your speed is less than 30 Mbs. Try moving that much data inside your network at full speed, and then divide that number by your internet speed. It could take several days to get all your data back.
Some CC companies like Microsoft’s Live allows you to not just backup the data to their servers, but they allow you to synchronize your data to multiple locations, such as a computer in another location. If your server goes down and your internet goes down, then you just need to go pick up the computer that has the data and bring it in.
I love the idea of Cloud Computing, and it will happen, no matter how much some of us try to slow it down. But we need to not put all our eggs in that basket. We should have both an in-house backup and an online one in case of an internal disaster such as fire or flood.
I didn’t even touch on Cloud Computing for applications like Google Docs and others. Those will be the way we all eventually go in the future. Why have a high end infrastructure with expensive computer guys you always have to pay to keep things running when someone else will do it for a fraction of the cost? Because CC isn’t ready yet.
Do you remember when the first PC came out in 1981? It wasn’t ready. In fact, it should never have been released to consumers and businesses until they worked enough bugs out years later for the computer to be useful and not a tremendous vortex where all our money was being thrown away.
This is where we are with Cloud Computing today. Wait five more years and ease into it when speed and reliability have improved. Do it now and you will be sorry if this is your main protection against data loss.
To buy my latest book “How to be an IT Administrator,” go to http://howtobeanitadministrator.com
For more great tips, check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show at 9:00 Sunday mornings on AM 1360 KUIK and at 10:00 AM on KOL in Seattle, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.
If you would like your technical question answered here, just email rmcmillen@koin.com. Even if it doesn’t get answered in the column, I will always answer by email.



Published Monday, October 12, 2009 10:15 AM by Katatkoin