As Web 2.0 gets into full swing and mainstream "average joes" start using and relying on web services, what will they do when those services eventually fail them?
A few stories have brought me to this line of thinking:
- TinyURL went down Sunday and Monday for several hours. TinyURL conveniently shrinks long web links into tiny web links and handles redirection to the long link's site. When TinyURL failed, so did all of the web links I and thousands of others have created to help our friends, family and colleagues.
- Pete Prodoehl mentioned the plight of Phil Wilson, who had all of the web services he used on Google fail in a different way — account suspension. Without any warning, his email, documents, and other data was denied him for over a week, as of his last posting.
- Google penalizes hundreds of blogs who offer text-link advertising on their websites, by dropping PageRank, a number from 1 to 10, assigned to sites based on Google's secret algorithm and other criteria. In a single day, many who relied on Google (too much I'd contend) saw their PageRank and AdSense revenue drop at the whim of Google.
I see these stories as a warning: be aware that the web services I'm using can fail at any time. Be aware that I could be denied services, without notice. Be aware that I could face a lack of access to my account and data, at the whim of the service I use. Be aware that the company who provides advertising income and my search results could change its mind about the value and importance of my site.
I'm not against web services — I use them all the time. However, I keep mission critical data like email on my Macs and my own servers. Maybe it's a generational thing to want my data local, and to be a little leery of giving away too much information to web services.
What web services do you depend on? Could you survive if they folded tomorrow?
Have you considered what you would do if your services went down for a day, a week... forever?
What if those services simply denied access for a terms of service violation you can't prove because the service doesn't respond to your emails?
How would you handle denial from years of your email for 1 week, 2 weeks, a month?
Something to think about.