The Limits of the Cloud

Microsoft’s FolderShare, a folder synchronizing tool that I’ve recommended in previous columns, is going off the air for up to three days in the middle of the week “for server upgrades”:

FolderShare will be offline for a little while (48-72 hours) next week for some server upgrades.

  • The outage begins Tuesday, June 17, at 6 PM Pacific Times (UTC-7).
  • We hope to be back online by 6 PM Friday at the latest.

I share some of the disbelief of commenters to the blog post and ZDNet’s Michael Krigsman:

Users are attracted to services such as FolderShare for two reasons: useful features and the promise of always-on reliability. Remove reliability from the equation and the service’s value plummets.

(Zoliblog also points to some odd, unexplained changes in the way FolderShare works, whereby the index of files you’re syncing between two computers appears to now be stored on Microsoft’s servers. Whether this is important remains to be seen.)

The bigger point is this: If we are genuinely going to shift computing to the cloud—move our stuff online, think in terms of being able to compute from anywhere, anytime—then we need to have reliable access to our files and accounts.

That Microsoft, of all people, can switch off such access for up to three days in the middle of the week highlights the inadequacies of that thinking. In the longer run it may be that we are in error for considering relying on cloud computing, and Microsoft, for access to our stuff.

(The arguments that it’s free, and in beta, don’t wash. Imagine if Google took Gmail or Google Docs down for three days: beta no longer means broken, at least not for the majority of a working week.)

Windows Live FolderShare Team Blog: Planned system outage starting June 17

17. June 2008 by jeremy
Categories: Productivity, Software, apps, Storage, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. This poor fellow has learned when Google lost his Gmail account ( http://blogoscoped.com/forum/22209.html#id22758 ), there’s really nothing much you can do when your data is on the cloud and the license agreement clearly states that they can lose your data and there’s nothing you can do about it.

    On a side note, Gruber has mentioned before ( http://daringfireball.net/2006/11/beta_excuse ), on companies slapping on the label of ‘beta’ as an excuse for releasing buggy software, or at least, providing themselves with some kind of PR cover. How long has Gmail been in beta? 4 years? Its getting ridiculous.