Web 2.0 data recovery

If you think about the growth of web 2.0 applications and think about how you yourself are using these tools from day to day you begin to realise that we are trusting a lot of data to these services. With every new service we sign up with we are trusting that their service will be available, that our data won't suddenly dissappear overnight and that our privacy will not be abused.

Let's face it, the EULAs for all of these services contain disclaimers stating that the data is the user's responsibilty. That's logical, but how many of these services make it easy for the end user to back-up their data. A common concept in Web 2.0 applications is that it's easy to get data in and easy to get data out, but how many well-known web 2.0 applications have a feature that allows the user to both export and re-import exported data?

I took a look at a few of the applications I mentioned above and found that the means to backup data is not as comprehensive as it needs to be:

Description Export data Import of exported data
Remember the Milk (Beta) YES (iCal format) NO (but planned)
Basecamp/Backpack YES (xml format) NO
Flickr NO NO
Del.icio.us YES YES


I am advocating that any web application that handles any level of user data above basic account information should at a minimum provide a way to export all data and import the exported data back-in. In the unlikely event of a major disaster at the supplier's end, where their own backup fails, the user can simply restore their data.

Even though it may be extremely unlikely that data will be lost in this way, it would be comforting to know that we can take responsibilty of our own data recovery.

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