GitLab's Not Alone: AWS, Google and Other Clouds Can Lose Data, Too Thinkstock

GitLab's Not Alone: AWS, Google and Other Clouds Can Lose Data, Too

Permanent data loss can occur even on professionally managed public clouds like AWS, Google and GitLab.

Data stored in the cloud may feel safe. But as GitLab users learned the hard way last week, data loss can occur even on well managed public cloud platforms. Here's a look at five examples of cloud data failures on major public clouds.

Cloud data feels safe because professionally managed cloud hosting platforms tend to be more reliable than on-premise infrastructure. Cloud vendors are probably larger and have more resources than your company does. They have sophisticated backup strategies and disaster-recovery processes in place.

For these reasons, it's easy to assume that data you consign to the cloud -- or at least to a part of the cloud that is managed by a major cloud-hosting company -- is safe from permanent data loss.

Public Cloud Data Loss

But even the best-managed cloud data host plans often -- or at least sometimes -- go awry.

Consider the following instances where data loss occurred on major cloud platforms:

  1. GitLab: On February 1, GitLab reported that an admin had accidentally deleted about 300 gigabytes of user data the day before. The company was able to restore some data from a backup database, but about six hours' worth of information is gone forever. That was bad news for GitLab, a fast growing startup that provides release automation services. Keeping customers production data safe is key for the company.
  2. Dropbox: I confess to using Dropbox as my primary data-backup solution. I save everything important to Dropbox and figure it's pretty safe there -- and it usually is. But even Dropbox can have glitches with user data, as happened in 2014. That data loss was relatively minor and affected a limited number of users.
  3. Azure: A company running its operations on Azure, Microsoft's public cloud service, lost data permanently in 2014. It's not totally clear that the data loss was Azure's fault, though. Microsoft also reports that data loss may occur if you host an outdated version of SQL Server 2014 on Azure.
  4. Google: Google makes much of its money by hoarding and analyzing users' data. So you'd think it would do a good job of protecting the data users upload. It does, usually. But even Google has lost cloud data in the past.
  5. AWS: Keeping cloud data secure is also paramount for AWS, Amazon's public cloud service. But AWS, too, has had hiccups that have resulted in permanent data loss for AWS users -- though that was back in 2011, during AWS's younger days; AWS has not had data loss issues since that time.

What does this all mean for the channel -- and for you? It's simple: No data stored in the cloud (or in any other single location, for that matter) is ever totally safe. That creates an opportunity for companies that can provide back-up and disaster-recovery services to complement those that come with public cloud hosting plans.

And for individuals, incidents like those described above are a reminder that you should still do your own backups. (Yes, I'm writing from a position of hypocrisy here.) Don't rely on the cloud alone.

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