January 2, 2009

Slashdot reports on the demise of something called journalspace, which seems to have been one of those free blogging sites, a bit like this here LiveJournal.

From what Slashdot readers say, and according to the message on the site, the owners thought a setup where redundant drives store the same data as it’s written (known as RAID) was like having backups. The “as it’s written” is the key point. If some program goes wild or someone malicious gains access to the server, you can end up losing the data, because the malicious entity can just write crap, which will be replicated everywhere. RAID’s meant to let you carry on if one of your hard drives packs up (because the same data is on others), not to allow you to go back to old data, which is what a backup gets you.

Unfortunately, Journalspace does not have backups, so all the blogs hosted there are lost.

I trust that LiveJournal (not to mention Gmail and Google Reader and so on) are better organised than Journalspace was, but I bet there’s something in their Terms of Service which says “if we lose all your data, it’s not our problem”. All this decentralised web 2.0 stuff is convenient, but it’s a good idea to keep copies of your stuff on your hard drive, too. I use a little Python script called ljdump to backup my journal (I’m actually using a hacked up version that spits out data to the stuff that generates my comment feeds, but that’s not important right now). There are probably less techie tools that will do the same job (some of the LiveJournal clients will do backups, for example). The important thing is to get one, and use it regularly.