Kenneth Ballenegger

Angel Investor, Engineer, Startup Founder

The Power of the Cloud

a.k.a. What It Feels Like Having Two Months Of Your Digital Life Wiped, And Then Subsequently Restored Thanks To Cloud Computing

I’m usually pretty diligent about backing up regularly. I’ve even got a terabyte drive and a Time Capsule both setup to backup automatically. But these last few months have been quite eventful. I’ve finished up my first year of college at the California College of the Arts, moved into a new apartment, and took up a job at Tapulous. With all this commotion, I never managed to take the time to setup my Time Capsule.

As luck would have it, my hard drive dies on me last Friday, literally the same day I get the Time Capsule out of its box and end up putting off setting it up to the weekend. At the moment, I paniced a little, thinking of how catastrophic a two-month data loss would be. All my photos, my music, my work, my whole digital life… gone!

So, though a little depressed, I decided to take the opportunity to perform a much-needed clean install. As I was setting up my most frequently used software, and putting back in all my accounts, I realized that I had not lost as much as I feared. The first sign was in re-installing 1Password, the app which contained all my password and important banking credentials. Luckily, I had set its database to be stored in my free Dropbox* folder, which syncs automatically to the cloud. Getting that restored was as easy as typing my Dropbox credentials in.

Through MobileMe, all my emails, calendars, address book, keychain and settings were preserved. I managed to recover my lost photos and music from my iPhone using Ecamm’s great PhoneView app. My work was under source control, and was regularly pushed back onto my servers (git is amazing, really!). My Things library synced back from my iPhone onto my Mac. Various other services (including Google’s) kept track of other aspects of my digital life. It’s amazing how much data was able to survive this otherwise catastrophic crash. What couldn’t be recovered was restored to its month-ago state. This include most of my schoolwork, and business data. Thankfully, I hand’t done any schoolwork in the last month, and the data loss on that front was pretty minor overall.

In order to make sure this never happens again, though, I have committed to keeping all of my data in the cloud. I signed up for a Dropbox Pro account, to which I moved my iPhoto Library, Things Library and any folder where I store documents. As a bonus, I get all that data now synced up between any Mac I own, and my iPhone and iPad.

I am now fully convinced that Cloud Computing is the biggest step technology has taken since the invention of the computer.

* Full Disclosure: referral link, gets me an extra 500MB of storage, and gives you an extra 250MB if you sign up using that link.