I just got this today. This is not good news.

John, I am a user of Google Docs and I just lost all my documents. It wasn’t anything I did, just suddenly when I logged on this morning every single document was gone. Not the spreadsheets or presentations, just documents.

I get the error “Sorry! We are experiencing technical difficulties and cannot show all of your documents.” When I went into the Google Forums, it seems that at least three other people have posted this same problem. Only the documents are gone, nothing else.

Google hasn’t responded. Look, John, I am writing a friggin’ book (on software development) using Google Docs. Why am I doing this? Didn’t you warn us time and time again?

Please post this as soon as you can to warn other people. I never thought I’d be the one to say this, but cloud computing sucks, John. From now on, I’m going to edit my documents on my own laptop using Open Office and then upload to Google Docs only when I need to collaborate on something with my co-author. I guess I could still use Google Docs every day and then just back up to my laptop every single day, but what’s the point of that? I have over twenty chapters each in a separate file, so the backup takes forever.

Daryl Kulak

  1. madtruckman says:

    noooo…the cloud not being dependable?? leo laporte is probably pulling his hair out now…

  2. Spencer says:

    I agree. The cloud blows.

  3. Joe says:

    I don’t understand why people don’t keep their files on their own computers.

  4. eggman9713 says:

    This guy actually was writing his life’s work using Google Docs, a product which is in BETA!?

    He doesn’t just fail. He must now must publicly admit he is really that stupid.

  5. pastubbs says:

    Well at least hard drives are getting cheaper. Now time to surf to google docs and do some backing up.

  6. Cosmosis says:

    Surely, Google will be restoring the files? I mean, yes, it stinks that these files have vanished if he was planning on working on them today, but this seems a little bit over-reactive. On a related note, there is a nifty plug-in for OpenOffice.org that will allow a user to automatically upload files to their Google Docs account from the software, so this might be a way he could more easily “sync” his files and keep them both on-and-offline?

  7. Ike says:

    All I know is that when I tried viewing this post from Chrome, the formatting was hosed and there were no visible comments.

    Censorship? (I loves me a good baseless rumor…)

  8. Grandpa says:

    I never trusted the cloud idea. I use Office 2003, and will as long as I can.

    I never trusted GWB either.

  9. Jim says:

    Why in the world would ANY author put their pre-publish works on a web-based interface? Not just the inability to get to it 100% of the time, but the web is not 100% secure. Does he think NO ONE has looked at his book just because Google says they “secure” it?


  10. Dvorak fan says:

    John Dvorak has been right all along, the cloud just isnt practical. There is no control over anything and you are trusting your data to a faceless entity that promises it will work. But also, you get what you pay for…pay nothing, expect nothing.

  11. JeffDM says:

    Sending that letter to one of the known detractors of the “cloud” idea is more like preaching to the preacher than getting the word out.

    Besides, putting a lot of work into something like a book and having absolutely form of backup? Have people not heard of the concept of servers failing?

    I think it’s likely that the documents will come back up later, but either way, accept this as a learning experience that anything can and do fail. Keep backups.

  12. James Abels says:

    Everyone I have heard talk about the cloud never advise using the cloud only, Always always always back up. Backup 60000 times if it is a book! i wouldn’t even trust raid 5 if I was doing a book I would do raid 5 and in as many clouds as i could find!

  13. Luke says:

    I also don’t understand why people act like the cloud doesn’t need to be backed up. That demonstrates a remarkable lack of understanding about what backups are for.

    #7 the same thing happens to me frequently and not just with Chrome. It’s happened with Firefox and IE as well. Looks like John should rail against the crappy reliability of his site as well as the cloud.

  14. usagi says:

    The Golden Rule since the dawn of the PC…BACKUP-BACKUP-BACKUP

  15. Hugh Ripper says:

    The truth of the matter is that no one but you gives a crap about your data. Take responsibility and keep your own backups.

  16. ECA says:

    Iv pointed out to MANY, that if they wish to keep their data…
    Make 3 copies..
    1 on your computer,
    1 BURNED
    1 printed..
    AND if you are smart you keep 1 AWAY from your premises..Fires dont care.

    I love the person that has ALL his life, on a Cellphone/handheld..
    And it DIES..
    Its worse then LOOSING your wallet..

  17. jccalhoun says:

    So every time I get a website that says “we’re down now but we’ll be back in a little while” I should email Dvorak about it?

    How long have they been gone? a minute? a year? If they are only gone an hour or so then I wonder what the big deal is. You shouldn’t expect online websites to be up and available 24/7/365.

  18. Lou says:

    You may as well email your Docs to Cheney. Only a fool would trust their Docs with anyone eles but themselves.

  19. NoNoBadDog says:

    Anyone who thinks clound computing is a good idea deserves the *FAIL* that will follow. Cloud computing is nothing more than an elaborate ruse to keep soaking users for more and more money.
    I can’t believe it ever made it out of the planning stage. Anyone, and I mean *ANYONE* who thinks cloud computing is a good thing needs to have their head examined.

  20. Zybch says:

    What a tosser!
    Sure, use an online/cloud service for docs and emails and stuff, but you also HAVE to ensure that the things also exist locally!

  21. ECA says:

    Its been interesting lately..

    Also a thought, is those NEET programs on TV that ask you to SIGNIN during the show…Like the KIDS cartoon shows.. Do you think 100,000,000 hits ALL at 1 time will bring a server down? YEP!..

    as to 7/24/365..
    I wish a site to be dependable.
    Look back and see that MSN was down for 3-5 days..A virus took there WHOLE server farm down. ANd NO BACKUP..

  22. Troublemaker says:

    What sort of MORON would keep files on an web-based system without local backups???


  23. brian t says:

    There are other ways to do collaboration online. The one I use is called Dropbox (getdropbox.com), which syncs files between multiple computers nearly instantly when online, but where you always work on the locally-stored files. It also acts as a backup system, since you have access to multiple versions of every file, even if you delete a file and that deletion is replicated. I don’t think they have real-time file locking (yet?), but if it detects a version clash, both versions are saved. It’s even happy sharing files between Mac, Windows and Linux systems.

  24. HMeyers says:

    How is this different than the guy who got a virus and lost all of his hard drive data or got hard drive failure?

    Google services are free and convenient, but not something to entrust your livelihood to.

    This relies on the following premises:

    1. This guy is telling the truth and didn’t accidentally delete his own doc or something else.

    2. That everyone should feel sorry for some guy who is very guilty of poor planning and placed all of his eggs on the doorstep of a free service.

    Maybe this guy shouldn’t be writing a book on software development if he doesn’t understand frequent backups are a crucial part of software development.

  25. joaoPT says:

    One would think that we came to a point of having machines packed with 4Gigs and Terabyte drives, 4 cores multithreaded for what? To be just dumb terminals? Oh how we evolved from the 70’s…

  26. Norman Speight says:

    What about this for a ‘solution’ (apologies for that – now – hateful word which is totally misused by computer software oiks like Microsoft and others).
    JCD is quite correct. Why trust others with your valuables?
    Karen Kenworthy (web search will find her) produces a first-rate ‘Replicator’ – FREE.
    Buy a 2.5 inch drive, put it in an enclosure, plug it into your USB port, use Replicator, you files can be backed up ever 5 minutes if you like – without stopping you working. Easiest solution to your problem. I’ve used this for many many years, its never let me down yet. I couldn’t give a S*** when any data of mine goes flaky, I’ve got it backed up automatically without any attention from me whatsoever.

  27. Cursor_ says:

    “JCD is quite correct. Why trust others with your valuables?”

    Well I hope that means that John has all his money in a can buried in his backyard and has no stocks and no valuables in a safety deposit box somewhere.

    Oh and doesn’t put money into any insurance and repairs his own vehicles and equipment.

    And GOD I hope he is serving up this website from his own webserver at home. Maybe Marc will tell us if Computer Tyme Hosting is owned by Dvorak. Because SURELY he would want us to abandon the cloud if he uses it as well!


  28. gitoct says:

    This story is short on details, and so much of the story’s critique is accurate. It’s important to note that DOCS has an offline backup feature that’s free and easy to set up. Its not just servers that fail, and so far many of us work on airplanes and other places without an internet connection.John’s distain for cloud computing has several caveats, which he freely shares on Cranky Geeks.

  29. Aaron says:

    Google Docs is great for backing up the stuff that you keep on your hard drive, but I’d never trust any file to be safe in only one spot–especially if that spot was on some remote server a thousand miles from me.

    I’d email Google about the problem, as opposed to posting it in a forum and hoping they’ll see it. I’m sure they can restore the docs. They once accidentally closed one of my email accounts, only to re-open it after a quick email to them. All my stuff was still there.

  30. soundwash says:

    what a moron…the ONLY thing cloud computing is good for is stealing sensitive corporate, company
    and private information or data.

    -add to that the fact that the current global crisis will no doubt, result in many data centers either vanishing completely or being swallowed up by larger entities with no guarantee any of your data will be held to the same policies and intent as the prior cloud scam artists..

    -and now for some exaggerative ranting

    last on that thought, with the coming Obamanazation of the web, along with the looming web content restrictions (in the name of national security, offending some asshat that doesn’t exist or protecting all the *innocent* children from pr0n) -there is even a good chance the swallowing entity will be the government.

    -which which case your data will die a horrible bureaucratic death. -or, because some data robot determined you have terroristically intentioned data, you will end up in the new Gitmo v2.0 some 7,000mi away.

    -any creatively created data should always be triplely redundantly backed up..with the third and possibly a fourth copy, located offsite at a location you can access without jumping through hoops, in 45min or less..

    so there.

    another fine, pre-coffee soundwash moment..



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