Since when did our cloud data become a noose?

Since when did our cloud data become a noose?

Summary: Or, as TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid asks more specifically, why do we let webmail services delete our data?Or, as he most aptly put it, since when did our data become a bartering tool for services rendered?


Since when did our cloud data become a noose?Or, as TechCrunch's Jason Kincaid asks more specifically, why do we let webmail services delete our data?

Or, as he most aptly put it, since when did our data become a bartering tool for services rendered?

In the post, Kincaid laments the policies of webmail providers, which will remove your data after varying lengths of inactivity (Yahoo, 4 months; Hotmail, 60 days; Gmail, 9 months; and so forth). "Storage is cheap" he says, and it's ridiculous to have such a policy when the same companies are simultaneously throwing gigabyte after megabyte at you to join. (And people are: Gmail grew a whopping 43 percent last year.)

It's a good question. The more space you have on these sites, the more you've got at risk. It's a noose made up of your own correspondence. How's that for the cloud?

Some people fall on one side of the argument, saying that it's certainly reasonable to get rid of an inactive user's data after a certain point (though where to draw that line is a different argument altogether). On the other hand, some people insist that providers should keep their data as long as they're signed up.

Who's right?

Of course, the argument extends beyond webmail. Does the argument change if it's not e-mails...but photos? Or playlists? How about your resume?

Think of the various cloud services: What about Facebook? Flickr? LinkedIn?

When is a reasonable time, if any, that all of your information should be wiped from existence?

Topics: CXO, Browser, Cloud, Collaboration, Data Centers

Andrew Nusca

About Andrew Nusca

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. During his tenure, he was the editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation.

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  • Deleted Data?

    I have used many cloud services and never just had my data
    disappear. I have been using gmail for more than 2 years and
    I can still find data that has been archived and tagged.
    If you are talking about data that is in the delete bin then I
    don't know what the issue is. If not then I haven't noticed a
    problem so i'm not to worried.

    I think there is more to this than your simple blog post is
    • You misunderstand.

      You are currently using your Gmail account. I'm referring to a period of inactivity, in which these services will wipe your account if you don't return to it when they say you should.

      In the case of Gmail, 9 months is a long time, but in the case of Hotmail, that means you need to stop in once every two months or risk deletion.
  • Abandoned Acocunts

    If a user signs up for a service and then never logs in after X amount of time and I would say 6 months to a year is adequate that a user does not login to that account it should be considered abandoned and first disabled for say an additional 90 days and then removed from the servers. For myself I know I have in the past signed up for accounts that I have since stopped using and forgot the password for and sometimes even the user name, I would hope the companies would wipe out the account and all associated data.
  • Fair Is Fair

    I agree that after a reasonable amount of time, if one ignores or outright abandons their account, it should be deleted with fair warnings at last known address.
    'Storage' is cheap', is not the same as as saying that 'Storage is free.'
    Someone incurs the maintenance and bandwidth costs, offset against their ad revenue.
    When 'They' incur a cost with you, without being able to expose you to revenue generating ads, it is one issue. Perhaps on an economy of scales, this can be absorbed.
    But multiplied by 10's of thousands, is a different bottom line issue.
    Speaking of 'fair is fair', 60 days for Hotmail in your article, is not one month as in your #2 post Andrew!
    At least they haven't changed the law on this, last time I checked!
    • whoops

      Sorry about that, brain was on lunch break. It's been fixed.
  • 1 Year maybe?

    I am thinking 1 year, because you might have issues connecting for 2 months (suppose you had a car accident and was in a coma for a time, or you went to a remote village in Africa as a peace-corp, or you were in difficult financial times that curtailed your connectivity - happened to me - or whatever). I know that nowadays it is difficult NOT to find connectivity, but 2 months can happen fairly easily.
    Roque Mocan