Technology and Gadgets
A blog looking at the world of technology and gadgets, including the latest computer hardware and smartphones
Perils of Notes and Data in the “Cloud”in Apps
As the “Cloud” begins to mature, more and more of us are turning to applications that claim to save our most important notes and data in it so that we can access them anytime, anywhere, on any device. Examples of such applications include Evernote, Google’s Keep, and Dropbox to name but three.
Over the last few month’s there have been numerous security “scares”, again Evernote being a prime example, where they advised all users to change their passwords due to a security breach.
So the question is, can you ever trust an online provider to secure your data, and keep it safe, and more importantly, trust them to not delete your notes and data. The answer, from my experience so far, is quite simply “no”.
Last year (2012), I started using Evernote to store important work notes and personal notes. Now, as is common with any form of notes you may wish to keep, you may not refer to them for extended periods of time. Such was the case when I tried to sign into my Evernote account using my email address and password. Hmmm… It didn’t recognise the password. I tried to do a password reset, and when I logged into the account with the newly reset password, it appeared to create a new account, with none of my notes in.
No problem I thought, after doing some research on the web, Evernote can just restore the account, after asking some security questions and for me to name some phrases which would have appeared in the notes. The support team responded with:
“This issue is actually quite common, and I would like to assure you that we have retrieved users' notes in the majority of cases.”
Quite common? That’s worrying for a start! Anyway, after jumping through hoops with them, their overriding answer was “well, this is a new account” and “you must have used another email address” and “you must have mistyped your email address originally”. Now, I only ever use one email address (my Google Mail email) for these sorts of applications, and as it was tied to my Android device, this made perfect sense. But Evernote absolutely insisted that I could never have used the email address as an account.
The final parting gift from the technical support team via email read as follows (click the image to see full size!):
So, that’s it – all my notes are gone, lost forever, and they are saying effectively they cannot get them back. My guess is that they deleted the account after a period of inactivity (without telling me) and now have no way of retrieving the data.
Whilst I am singling out Evernote here, due to personal experience, I am sure they are not the only ones to lose people’s data (and subsequently not be able to get it back). But it does highlight a big concern I’ve had (especially so as an IT Manager). Is the “Cloud” safe enough and resilient enough for people to trust it with their most critical data? And when things do go wrong, what guarantee do we, as individuals, have in getting our data back. From my experience, not much at all!
My advice quite simply is never rely on the Cloud entirely. Sure, put your notes in it for convenience when on the move, but wherever and whenever possible, take a copy of important data, and put it on a memory stick, or use multiple providers. Of course, nothing is 100% safe in the world of IT, but you might want to hedge your bets – I know I certainly will from now on!