Modern computing is geared towards moving everything into The Cloud. Your calendar, your email client, CRM, your office applications, even the music you listen to while commuting can all be in the cloud and while this seems great you know that it’s all one Internet outage away from being unavailable.

But you have mobile data with 4G or maybe 5G and you’re always near WiFI so why worry? The main cloudy problem is not the Internet connection at all, it is the companies who provide these services. For example, Amazon regularly update their online Music library to add new releases but they also remove tracks whose content providers decide to no longer sell through Amazon. If you rely on the cloud player by never downloading these tracks then you lose access to them and do not automatically get a refund.

Losing access to a small number of songs out of your entire library is annoying but no major heartache (though in my case Amazon removed three complete albums that I had paid for and owned for a few years). What if Amazon decided to ditch their music service entirely? Without your own local backups you have now lost your entire purchased content. What if Microsoft dropped Office365 or OneDrive for some insane reason?

Asides from the more obvious issues of cyber attack and Internet connection problems cloud services give great convenience with a big cost of having to consider the provider’s future prospects and exactly where they receive their digital goods from before you buy from them. Licensing terms change frequently on these providers and the vast majority of people do not notice so these giant companies get away with forgetting to issue refunds or warn you that your content is going to disappear.

Always backup your data and that includes any digital content you’ve purchased.

Of course that’s not always possible. Let’s hope Valve never go out of business or drop Steam…

EDIT: Just a few days after posting this we see a large organisation closing their service and customers losing out.