Out of a clear blue sky, an email arrived.
“It is with regret that we need to inform you that we have ended our relationship with Livedrive….As of March 13th 2012 you will no longer be able to backup or restore data…. You are advised to search for another backup solution”.
Yes, it seems that the offer that was too good to be true, was: BeeCloud.eu, who have been offering 512GB – or even more – online backup space for free, look like they are sailing off into the sunset.
Information is patchy to say the least. BeeCloud’s website seems to have been replaced by a single page, informing you that they are no longer reselling Livedrive – the US-based cloud storage service that has been behind the BeeCloud service. Livedrive’s website says nothing about BeeCloud on their blog, although interestingly there is some consumer pricing indicating that the “free” service that BeeCloud operated is available at a price of £4.95 per month, or at a special offer price of £40 for the year.
This is speculation of course, but it looks a lot like BeeCloud’s business model was flawed. They would have to be paying Livedrive even for free accounts; presumably they hoped that enough people would decide to take up the “Premium” options that included something akin to Dropbox that it would cover their costs. However, when your USP seems to be that you over the most amount of storage for free, that was probably something of a folorn hope.
If people have been truly using BeeCloud for backup – which I have – then this isn’t too disasterous provided you don’t have a hard drive failure in a couple of weeks time. It’s annoying – my computer was on for about three weeks solid copying all of my data to Livedrive – but what I’m losing is after all only a copy of my data. It does however raise the question of what to do about backup now.
This is not a new problem, but with data volumes ever increasing it’s reaching the level of being a real pain. My current computer has about 200GB of data on it – with serious amounts of photos, and an iTunes library that alone is topping 40GB. That means just to backup my data would take 8-10 BluRay discs – about £10 – plus purchasing a BluRay capable drive at about £70. And then spending the time writing that amount of data. And then finding somewhere to put them that’s safe from fire and flood. And hoping that the media will remain readable – it’s currently too early to say if the durability claims made (30 years or more) prove to be accurate. The thought of sitting there with a stack of 40-50 DVDs just doesn’t bear thinking about, and has the same sort of concerns about storing offsite and data durability.
Small wonder that cloud storage seems to offer a panacea for this. You can usually set things to back up in the background – set it and forget it. By definition it’s offsite – and indeed you can then often use it to access your files from any computer so long as you can remember your logon details. However, unless you have fast broadband it can take a long time to do the initial copy, and, as BeeCloud’s difficulties show, you are still hoping that your vendor of choice proves to be longer-lived than your need for the data.
Me? I’m wondering about an External Drive, and keeping the drive itself at work when I’m not using it. At least I’ll know exactly where it is!