I woke up this morning, had breakfast, took a kid to an art class (it’s Winter Break here in Massachusetts), and hunkered down to get some work done. This, of course, means logging into Gmail, going through the various feeds I have in Google Reader, etc. Unfortunately, I was greeted with a fairly unfriendly “Your account has been disabled” message. Uh oh.
I live via Gmail. I use it all the time for everything. It’s easy, intuitive, I love the way it organizes conversations, I can use AIM and Google Talk right through the interface, etc., etc. I store license keys, passwords, ideas, contacts, and everything else of some significance to me in my Gmail account.
This is known as “putting all of your eggs in one basket.” I should know better. I’m not exactly new to IT, where Murphy’s Law is alive and well. It's just that Gmail is so good and so easy, and Google is hardly a fly-by-night company that I'd expect to fail me.
From a bit of Googling (there I go again; I know there are other search engines, but I just really like Google), it looks like the most likely reasons for a disabled account are spamming (or other violations of the terms of service) or "unusual account activity"; this is supposed to result in a 24-hour disabling while Google (or Google's software) makes sure I'm not doing anything bad. It also prevents someone who has repeatedly tried to log in to my account from going any further.
That's all well and good, and I appreciate the security. I do have my whole life in Gmail, so I want to make sure that the bad guys stay out of it. However, I really need my email to do my job, especially since I forward all of my email to Gmail.
A financial adviser would tell me that I was foolish for investing all of my money in Google stock. The same goes for my life, since so much of what I do is online. I guess it's never too late to learn a lesson the hard way.
The lesson for Ed Tech is redundancy. Backups, redundant services, and mission-critical service providers (like communications, student information systems, etc.) that you actually pay and can call on the phone (or have the infrastructure to support well internally) are your friends. For now, Gmail is still a friend of mine, but you can bet I'll be forwarding important mail to another account for backups when and if it comes back up.