“Once Your Data Is On A Cloud Computing Service You Lose Your Property Rights”–US Government.

Many users who quite legitimately used Megaupload to store personal data and photos and who never illegally shared music or films are still fighting to get their data back from the US Government who seized the Megaupload servers after charging the owner of the service with allegedly “operating as an organization dedicated to copyright infringement”.

One of the people affected Kyle Goodwin is trying to hold the US Government accountable for denying him access to his property.  He is using the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) legal team to raise a brief to this effect.

According to the EFF site it appears the US Government has admitted to reviewing Mr Kyle’s files when he clearly had nothing to do with the case against the owners of Megaupload and as such is an innocent person who just happened to use the cloud service to store his personal files and was innocently caught in the crossfire between the Government and the owners of the Megaupload site. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, the US Government has said that “Mr. Goodwin lost his property rights in his data by storing it on a cloud computing service.”

You can read the full post on the EFF Site here:


As you know I have always maintained that storing your data in the cloud is dangerous and this yet again confirms my worst fears that all your data in the cloud is accessible by the US authorities.  As most cloud services we use here are based in the US you can take it that your data is being picked over at will by the US and their allies (UK Government I am sure), as well as any “anonymous” style hacking groups who seem capable of breaking into pretty much any site they wish including the US Government ones.

Public cloud services … no thank you!

Mega Upload Innocent Customers To Lose Their Data!!!

I just read this with horror:

“MegaUpload has received a letter from the US Attorney informing the company that data uploaded by its users may be destroyed before the end of the week. The looming wipe-out is the result of MegaUpload’s lack of funds to pay for the servers. Behind the scenes, MegaUpload is hoping to convince the US Government that it’s in the best interest of everyone involved to allow users to access their data, at least temporarily.”

Read the full post here at Torrent Freak:


The shocking aspect of this and it’s something I have been ranting about on this blog for ages, is the danger of leaving your stuff with cloud providers who can just disappear in minutes taking your data with them. 

If I was a MegaUpload customer with all my private home photos stored on their servers and no access to get them back and worse, if I was foolish enough to not have them all backed up elsewhere I think I would be going out of my mind right now.

I cannot imagine how I would feel if my pictures of the kids when they were growing up and family holidays were lost. Additionally to add to the horror, what if the authorities decide to sell off the servers on which they currently reside to cover the debts that MegaUpload probably incurred to its debtors?  You now have the possibility that your private photos are being viewed by unscrupulous buyers of the MegaUpload hardware!!

As I say, treat all Cloud Services with extreme caution, as providers are appearing with services that have scant service level agreements and customers are foolishly trusting them with important, possibly irreplaceable data.

Dropbox for instance has a lot of stuff in their “Terms and Conditions” about them not sharing your data with anyone else, but I can’t see anything that looks like a service level agreement, this paragraph is probably the nearest to it:

Dropbox is Available “AS-IS

Though we want to provide a great service, there are certain things about the service we can’t promise. For example, THE SERVICES AND SOFTWARE ARE PROVIDED “AS IS”, AT YOUR OWN RISK, WITHOUT EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF ANY KIND. WE ALSO DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT. (We are not shouting- it’s just that these disclaimers are really important, so we want to highlight them). Dropbox will have no responsibility for any harm to your computer system, loss or corruption of data, or other harm that results from your access to or use of the Services or Software. Some states do not allow the types of disclaimers in this paragraph, so they may not apply to you.

Basically you do everything at your own risk and they can accept no liability.  Now I don’t blame Dropbox for that, if you are providing a free service I think you the consumer should not expect too much and take reasonable precautions.  What I would like to see is something about what happens if Dropbox goes out of business, what happens to my data? Will they guarantee that before sale the servers that hold my data will be erased so that it can’t be recovered. Also will they confirm what happens if I chose to leave the service, will they destroy my data so that it can’t be used by anyone else?

To me if any of this stuff matters to you, don’t use Cloud Services as none of them will guarantee any of this.



More Ammunition Against Cloud Services

I don’t like to say told you so, but …. told you so!


There are a lot of good people who used MegaUpload for legitimate purposes who have now lost access to their data.  I just hope that they have made backups of their own as I suspect it will be a long time before they can gain access to their data whilst the authorities search through the files looking for more evidence of copyright infringement.

I have and always will have a big problem with my data being stored on someone else’s servers that I personally do not have any control over.

See my previous rants on the subject:

Permalink to What happens to data when your cloud provider evaporates- – Computerworld

Permalink to VMware Cloud Goes Down

Permalink to Now it’s Amazon’s EC2 that proves my point!!

Permalink to The Cloud–An Example Of My Distrust of Cloud Computing

Permalink to The Cloud–What do I think-

I know it’s all negative, but I think everyone should have a healthy mistrust for personal data stored on the web, you just never know where it goes what it’s used for and if it’s important to you whether it will survive the demise of cloud providers.


VMware Cloud Goes Down

Yet more woes for Cloud suppliers, this time VMware it appears an initial outage was fixed and then whilst the company was trying to figure out a procedure of how to prevent the outage occurring again in the process of doing that someone triggered a bigger outage. I just spotted this in Network World:

VMware causes second outage while recovering from first

This all goes to show that cloud systems are just as likely to be affected by human error as stand alone IT systems, another reason that they should be approached with caution and not accepted as the answer to all your IT problems. 

The words “snake oil” come to mind!!


What happens to data when your cloud provider evaporates? – Computerworld

Finally I think the rest of the industry is catching up with me!

What happens to data when your cloud provider evaporates? – Computerworld

This is what worries me about people who hurtle headlong into new technologies before they are mature and tested. Over the years I have learned in IT to wait and see if the concept really makes sense before adopting it. 

I really believe that the “cloud” is a bad idea the way it is currently implemented. Judging by the above article a few others are beginning to realise that as well.


Now it’s Amazon’s EC2 that proves my point!!

In my continuing rant about keeping away from the cloud, Amazon have just proved my point as their EC2 cloud storage system went down taking a number of web sites with it.  This outage was covered on Network World:


As you can see from the text, supposed safeguards that clients paid extra for where their website or application was hosted in what are termed “multiple availability zones”, did not survive this outage. The idea being that if you application or site is in more than one of these zones if a failure occurs in one zone the other ones you are in will take over keeping you running.  This however has proven to be no protection in this instance as people in multiple zones went down.

Again I would say that this is not just an Amazon issue I am sure all other cloud vendors could be hit in a similar fashion.  Systems in my experience can never escape from unexpected cascading events.

If you watch the video on the page linked to above, the concept of having your applications or sites spread across multiple cloud vendors was raised and the other big issue with current cloud services raised its head that of interoperability between different vendors.  If they used a standards based cloud operating system then you could theoretically have two vendors hosting your application or sites and if one goes down the other takes the strain, but I think this is a long way off. I would imagine this would be horrendously expensive as well which would put me off it even if it were possible.

My advice, stay well clear of cloud services until a mature standard emerges and unless you are a monster organisation that needs and can afford this kind of stuff possibly never use it.  Keep it all under your own control so that in the event of a disaster the person who it matters most to is in charge of getting you back up and running not some 3rd party monster that sees you as a small fish in its big pond.


The Cloud–An Example Of My Distrust of Cloud Computing

Following on from my previous rant about Cloud Computing and why I am not enamoured with it, today we have the news that Google managed to trash about 150,000 accounts (initially it was reported as 500,000 but then got revised down, probably after they found the backup and restored 350,000 of them)?

See the details here:




I don’t wish to bludgeon Google, I am sure Microsoft and Yahoo and others have had similar problems with their cloud based services as well, but it does illustrate the point I was making in my earlier blog post that you are risking a lot by placing your stuff into the cloud alone as you are totally reliant on the cloud provider not to lose your stuff.

I am sure that Google will have backups and get it all back, but this occurred on Sunday 27th February 2011 and we are now at Tuesday 1st March and not all accounts are restored yet so imagine if this had been a business cloud service that went down on a Monday and you can do no work until Wednesday afternoon?? I think the boss would be pulling his/her hair out by now!

Grab from Google showing the current status after some accounts lost.
Screen Grab From Google After Google Mail Accounts Lost

I rest my case.


The Cloud–What do I think?

The problem with the cloud from my perspective is that you are giving away control to a service provider.  That in itself isn’t too bad, I give away control of this website to my hosting company and so far it has been up and running with little problems over the years. So why is using the cloud any different to that. Well, the big difference is that if you are using the cloud for your business and you hang up your own IT for it, then you have put all your eggs in that provider’s basket.

I remember not so long ago there was a service called Google Video Store, loads of people paid for movies that they could download and play on their own PC. Because the movies were DRM (Digital Rights Management) protected, you could play them as long as Google’s DRM server could be contacted and your account verified as active. When Google pulled the plug unexpectedly as the service presumably wasn’t making money and the big studios were as usual shying away from internet downloads, the end users were left with movies they had paid for but now couldn’t play as the DRM server was gone.


To me this is the big problem with any cloud service, if the provider goes bust, or just decides they don’t want the service any more you could find yourself high and dry. If this is your IT system, who’s going to explain to the boss that your staff cannot do any work because:

    1. All your data is gone, locked away on the hard disk of a server in Texas that the administrators of your now defunct cloud service provider are selling off to pay creditors.
    2. You only have web enabled dumb PCs that can only run a web browser based Operating System.
    3. It will cost £X million and 10 days to put back your long gone IT infrastructure.

Internet Connection – As well as the above, on a day to day basis you may have the problem that if your local ISP goes down and you can’t access the internet your staff can’t do any work, at least at the moment if the net goes down your staff can still use their PC to do useful work whilst the internet connection is sorted.

Security – Another worry from my perspective as an IT consultant is security of your data. Who is to say that some unscrupulous employee at the cloud hosting company isn’t selling your trade secrets to either your competitors or some foreign power like China who will take what you have done and sell it at a price that puts your company out of business. Worse still what if the Cloud company itself is unscrupulous, we have seen so called good companies like Microsoft, Google and Facebook do some pretty iffy things with user data over the years?


Performance – I cannot imagine yet doing stuff like CAD or Video editing over a web link. It’s possible if the cloud is behaving like a Terminal Services session and all your dumb terminal is doing is relaying what’s happening on the remote server, even then I think the capabilities of servers will have to improve dramatically for that sort of work to be done with significant amounts of end users.

I think that the  whole idea of using the cloud to do everything is too simplistic. A better idea is to use it for the things it is good at, providing a location for data that is accessible from anywhere in the World and as a secondary backup to your main IT, so that if you are working remotely and need access to your company resources you can get to them.

To me you can get all this now by installing your own copy of Windows Small Business Server and configure it for remote access. Immediately you have all the benefits of the cloud (perhaps not the scalability where a cloud provider can give you instant access to more storage and computing power) but you have all the main benefits like working on your data anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection and all the benefits of it being on your premises and under your control.