It’s 12:00… Do You Know Where Your Data Is?

I just tried to read catch up on my news/blog feeds, via Bloglines. As I’ve commented before, Bloglines is a web-based aggregator, and the only aggregator I use anymore.

But this time I couldn’t read my feeds. Instead, I saw the following message:

Bloglines has suffered a major hardware failure with one of the main database machines. We are working quickly to fix the problem. Please visit later. We apologize for the inconvenience. We currently estimate that the outage will last one hour.

Now, this is no knock on Bloglines. Hardware failures happen. And Bloglines is a fairly new, free service. I’m sure they have a revenue model in the works, but I’m also sure they have no revenue yet. So it’s no surprise that their systems aren’t completely redundant. I have no plans to stop using Bloglines.

But this did get me thinking about web services and data. In this case, my data is my list of feeds, and the information about which posts I have already read. What if Bloglines were offline for days? What if they never returned? Granted, my blogroll isn’t the most critical data in the world, but the problem exists in any web service model where some data that you “own” is kept and maintained by someone else.

In the case of Bloglines, my list of feed subscriptions can be exported to OPML. I have such an export saved on my system, but it’s not completely current. The list of what posts I’ve read is not exportable, but is also much less important. In the future, I’ll probably schedule a job to download my latest OPML file once a week, or something like that. I’ll also pay more attention to any other data I maintain in a web service that I don’t control.

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