Google admitted earlier this week that it had lost thousands of Gmail accounts. Gmail users found their inboxes wiped clean and though emails have now been restored, have you lost confidence in cloud computing?
I’m largely unaffected by Google’s data loss, since my main account’s with Windows Live Hotmail, but thousands still lost their emails to Google’s ‘cloud’.
What’s a ‘cloud’? Well cloud computing quite simply refers to services not stored on your local computer but on a remote server – essentially a large computer – in this case one owned and managed by Google.
Benefits of cloud-based email services
There are countless benefits to cloud computing, which is widely-touted as one of the ‘next big things’ in computing.
In the case of webmail accounts like Gmail and Hotmail, it means you can pick up your emails from a computer anywhere in the world using any old web browser.
Webmail accounts offer generous storage capacities too, from 5GB to ‘unlimited’ of space for the main services. Plus, since emails aren’t stored on your hard disk, you won’t use up your computer’s valuable storage space.
These accounts also come with virus scanners and email filters, meaning you should be able to feel secure about your emails, too. You should be able to.
Loss of trust as Gmail Gfails
Gmail’s data loss highlights the fact that what really underpins cloud computing is trust. I’ve put my faith in Hotmail to keep my countless emails safe and make them available to me 24/7 whenever and wherever I choose to log in.
As well as emails from friends and family, my account stores treasured photographs, the addresses of people with whom I’d hate to lose touch, receipts for purchases I’ve made online, and more. Were I to lose them I’d be devastated.
Thankfully Google has now been able to restore everyone’s email accounts, but it’s worrying that one of the world’s biggest webmail providers almost fell at the same hurdle as everyone else – back up your computer!