After a decade of hard work, Natalie Brown had turned her blog into a thriving business.
And suddenly all the content is gone.
“I felt really bad. Little by little I realized it was just going away,” says Brown, parenting blogger and author of Confessions of a crummy mummy (“Confessions of a Bad Mother”).
The content was hosted by Gridhost, a cloud-based internet service provider that shut down in November. Brown did not receive notice of being shut down because his blog was created by a third-party company that had gone out of business.
And I also didn’t have access to the blog backup, since Gridhost also hosted it in the cloud.
Days of stress and many tears followed.
Difficult to retrieve content
Cloud computing – storing information and software in remote data centers and accessing them via the Internet – is becoming increasingly popular.
It allows small businesses, for example, to set up email or data processing facilities without having to operate their own technology infrastructure.
But when things go wrong, the consequences can be disastrous.
Cloud Services may experience intermittent outages or outages caused by technical failures, cyberattacks or even lightning.
In Brown’s case, her blog is a direct source of income. Companies that make mom products pay you to promote them or post certain content on your blog.
“It literally puts food on our table,” says Brown.
He explains that the owner of Gridhost, the tsoHost company, did not allow him access to his blog data and was only able to recover it after asking his former web developer for help. “He said it took him about six hours to negotiate with them,” she recalls.
Now the blog is live again on another platform, and Brown has backed it up with an independent vendor.
A tsoHost spokesperson announced that the company attempted to contact customers prior to Gridhost’s shutdown, adding, “We understand the decision to retire the Gridhost platform is disappointing, and tsoHost is working closely with customers. to help with migrations.
The face and the cross of the cloud
Using cloud services, by definition, makes a business dependent on a third party, says Vili Lehdonvirta of the Oxford Internet Institute and author of cloud empires (“Cloud Empires”).
“What is the cloud? Well, the cloud it’s someone else’s computer“, it is said.
And glitches in the clouds are not unusual. Amazon Web Services, the world’s largest cloud provider, suffered a partial outage in December 2021 that affected thousands of customers.
Also, sometimes cloud services are suspended, as is the case with Gridhost. Google will retire its IoT Core cloud platform next August. People used it to connect their smart home devices, among other things.
According to data from the consulting firm Uptime Institute, if the cloud does not lose reliability in general, costly outages are more frequent.
“Over 60% of failures lead to at least $100,000 in total lossesa substantial increase of 39% compared to 2019″, indicates the entity.
Kristina McElheran of the University of Toronto says cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular with businesses.
She and her colleagues regularly conduct large-scale surveys of hundreds of thousands of American businesses. Citing other research, she also notes that the shift to remote work during the pandemic has further accelerated cloud adoption.
“The cloud is a game-changer for the survival, growth and productivity of young people, especially the young and small,” says Dr McElheran, referring to start-ups. “But that’s where the flip side is: lose control“.
Other companies concerned
One small business owner who knows this all too well is Pokey Bolton, an artist and event planner in Napa Valley, California.
In early December 2022, their cloud email provider, Rackspace, suffered a ransomware attack which has reached thousands of customers.
“I’m furious,” she said. It came at a particularly tricky time, as in early December Bolton tends to get plenty of bookings for its annual January craft workshops.
“It’s my big source of money, it’s the key to my business,” he laments.
She expected hundreds of people to sign up, but without email access for several days, she doesn’t know how many customers she lost this year.
Bolton changed email providers and says he tried to close his Rackspace account, but received no written confirmation. He also doesn’t know if the hackers accessed his email accounts, which contained customer data and other confidential information.
A Rackspace spokeswoman said the company was able to help more than three-quarters of affected customers set up new messaging services on another platform. “We are proactively reaching out individually to those who still need help,” he added.
Professor Lehdonvirta, for his part, stresses the importance of appreciating the benefits of cloud computing, particularly in terms of availability, a term that indicates how long a computer system operates without failure.
“Despite these major disruptions (cloud providers) can offer incredible availabilitiesvery difficult to achieve in a smaller scale operation,” he explains.
Plus, software running in the cloud can receive the latest updates instantly, helping you stay secure.
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