Backing up my (online) self – Online Data Backup – the reverse of what you’d think

This is not about a service that allow you to backup your harddrive online. I want the ability to take my online self, my online “files” and online “harddrive” so to speak, and download it as a backup on to my own harddrive.

Someone should build a lightweight desktop application into which I can put my username and password for Google, Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, Flickr, Digg, etc. and as soon as there some change (as defined by me, the user) it downloads this change onto my harddrive as a backup. This simple app would then save all of my GMail email, all of my Google Docs and Spreadsheets as word docs and excel files, Google Calendar meetings and alerts as iCal data, Google Reader Feeds in xml, all of my friends from Facebook, all of my pictures from Facebook, my pics from Flickr, blog posts from WordPress, etc.

Then if I ever decided to move my data somewhere I could change it into common file formats for other programs and start quickly without losing any history or any data. Or if Google ever banned my account (as they have accidentally for some other people in the recent past) at least I still have all of my data and am not crippled.

I would probably pay for a product like this because the permanent peace of mind is worth $50.

2 thoughts on “Backing up my (online) self – Online Data Backup – the reverse of what you’d think

  1. Totally, I’ve considered this too. A while back I wrote a script to download all my flickr photos (I have like 7 or 8k), but I didn’t have time to come up with a good way to store the metadata like descriptions, comments, set associations, etc. I wanted to capture this info in some standard way so it would be useful on its own without having to use another script to recall the data, so for example, for photo sets you might have a directory for each set with symlinks to the actual photos on your disk. This displays each set nicely in Windows Explorer, but Picasa ignores them :[ So the last time I worked on this, I was still trying to come up with a way to let me back up my flickr photos in a way that Picasa could consume without making duplicates of photos that appear in more than one set. I think Picasa just doesn’t support that concept since the browsing is filesystem-based. I think the bigger lesson for me was that for some kinds of information, you’re really just going from one company’s proprietary format or access protocol to another company’s, and you will be dependent on the backup-app-provider to allow your data to play with other apps and services for all eternity. I guess in the end, you’re betting on whether a standard will stick around or whether a company will continue to support a product, and this varies based on the kind of data you’re backing up and the standards and products that exist for it. Office, iCal, JPEG, etc seem like good bets to me, and for the stuff that doesn’t have a strong standard like flickr metadata, I’d prefer to just roll my own for personal use because I know I’ll always be able to write code to manipulate it. What I think would be the coolest thing ever is to have a tool for remixing data in a visual way, kind of along the lines of Yahoo Pipes but the visual model would extend to the level of fields, types, relationships, etc.

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