Jared Sinclair details how Tumblr spontaneously terminated his account without warning:
Up until yesterday, my blog was hosted via Tumblr with a CNAME redirect from blog.jaredsinclair.com to the appropriate Tumblr domain. I set everything up seven or eight years ago, and it had worked fine all that time. I tried visiting the site and, like Mark said, the blog was gone. I got the Tumblr equivalent of a 404 instead of my blog.
Jared’s goes over his backup strategy in his post, and it’s extensive, and yet:
Yet my blog was the one corner of my digital life where I had gotten lazy. I didn’t have a backup of my posts anywhere, only scattered draft versions in a Dropbox folder. The canonical versions of all my blog posts were whatever Tumblr had saved for my account. The Tumblr versions had lots of small edits and corrections that weren’t saved anywhere, even if there was a draft copy in Dropbox. Now suddenly, everything that Tumblr had was gone.
My setup is similar to Jared’s: Everything I care about is backed up in a couple of different ways, but there are a few small pockets that could use some improvement1. We can all always use a reminder that any data stored in the cloud could disappear forever at any moment2.
For big companies, I can see storing some data exclusively in the cloud being a good trade-off: If your account were suddenly inaccessible, presumably you’d have the leverage to get it back. And getting your employees to all implement a decent backup strategy is probably untenable anyway.
But for individuals and small companies, storing anything you care about exclusively in the cloud is a bad idea. You shouldn’t be entering any data you care about into anything that doesn’t automatically create a local copy of it that you have full control over (and can therefore backup). The reality is that people get locked out of these services without warning, and then find themselves in the Kafkaesque situation of trying to get their account back when the company has automated people out of their support system.