When Forever Ends
I’ll let you in on a secret about IT. We are lazy. Many of the innovations and really cool features on your computer systems were put there because an IT guy, a programmer, was too lazy and didn’t want to keep doing a task. So, he built a tool.
I used to play Dungean Seige, a PC based game. It’s your basic fantasy role playing game. You walk around killing monsters, collecting treasure and gathering stuff that lets you kill even bigger monsters. Your character can carry a certain amount of stuff. Typically is far more stuff than an actual person could carry. For example, you might be carrying two sets of armor, three swords, a bow, and some of that blue stuff that you drink and it makes you able to do magic. If you can’t carry more stuff, you have to go stash your stuff in a chest. Then, you can continue collecting even more armor and swords and blue magic stuff. Anyway, a new version came out that included a donkey. You could load up the donkey with even more stuff. The reason the donkey was added to the game, is that one of the programmers got tired of having his character constantly walking back to his house to drop all his loot in his chest.
We aren’t just lazy when it comes to games. We are lazy in our professional lives too. Nowhere do you see this more than when it comes to backups. Ask a computer tech when the last time he backed up his hard drive and you’ll get an uncomfortable look as he quickly changes the subject to talk about Dungean Seige strategies.
So, a couple of years ago, I finally decided that I should start practicing what I preach. I decided to back up my stuff. Being an IT guy, I wanted to make this as easy as possible. I bought a program called Pogoplug. It included a piece of hardware that attached to my home network, with an external hard drive attached. I installed the Pogoplug software on my computers and they started backing up everything to the local device and storing it online in the Pogoplug cloud. The Pogoplug device is very simple to use. If it has a green light, it’s working, if it has a red light there’s a problem.
Okay, great. I’m now backing up, and best of all, I don’t have to think about it much. By much, I mean I don’t have to think about it at all. The device sits on a shelf next to my computer desk. I can see it every time I walk to my office. If it turns red, I know I have to fix it. Nothing could be simpler.
Fast forward a couple of years. Yes, years. I don’t access my backups that often,. I’ve once again started to look at my backup options. I take a lot of pictures during scout outings and I’ve started sharing them through Dropbox. I paid Dropbox $100 and they gave me one terabyte of space. Since it is so easy to use and share Dropbox, I decided I would make it my main backup location. Moving the files, photos and music off my iPad and work laptop was pretty simple. My server, with it’s massive store of files, photos and music is currently in the computer repair shop, so I went to Pogoplug to get copies of my data to store on Dropbox. And that is when I discovered that forever isn’t very long. In fact, it’s about 2 years.
Pogoplug apparently realized a little more than a year ago that selling a piece of hardware to a customer once is a pretty limiting business model. They have discontinued their “free” online backup and replaced it with a subscription service. I understand perfectly that companies need to make money. Otherwise they don’t stay in business.
As I opened my Dropbox app, it informed me that my cloud based files were offline. But, it showed me that I had 147GB worth of them. For some reason my local store had the directory structure but no actual files. An email to support informed me that the period for recovering your online files had passed.My 147GB of files were no longer accessible.
All is not lost. My server will eventually come back from the repair shop and I THINK it has copies of all of these files. But, the idea that a company would provide storage and then at some point simply cut off your access is a very bad business model.
I’ve sent additional emails to Pogoplug support asking them why my cloud store is still offline considering I have now subscribed to their paid service, and why does my online store show 147GB if my files are gone forever?
Yeah, I’m lazy. I’ll admit it. In fact, like most IT guys, I’m willing to go to a lot of work setting up systems to avoid doing the actual work involved in doing whatever my systems takes care of.
I will admit that it’s more than a little frustrating to go to the work of setting up a backup system so painless that I can ignore it for two years, safe in the false security of the green light and find out that some other IT guy made a change that nuked all of my files.
Oh, and by the way, I know you don’t come to this blog for technical advice, but if you are looking for a backup solution for your computers, I can recommend Dropbox. It’s inexpensive and easy to use. I would avoid Pogoplug if I where you. That is if you ever plan to actually retrieve your files.
I’ll let you know if I hear back from them.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved