Zef talks about the difference between webapps and ‘normal’ apps. One interesting statement that he makes:

They have stored your data more redundantly and safely than you’ll ever be able to (within reason). Having lost my e-mails and data by a hard-disk crash (or faulty Linux installation) several times, I no longer trust singular storage of data. Companies like Google have these facilities.

Personally, I’d prefer to store important data such as mail myself. Although it is true that a company such as Google will probably make better backups than I, I prefer to make my own backups… In that way, I’m the one to blame when something terribly goes wrong.

I occasionally take a DVD to my parents to have an off-site backup, so even in the unfortunate case that my house will completely burn out, I’ll only lose a few months of mail. (and when this would happen, my mail would probably one of my least worries….)

I think that two other aspects should be taken into consideration when you decide that Google (or another company) should be the one to keep your data safe.

  1. Will Google continue the service forever?
  2. Do you want Google to be able to browse your data?

The first question can be answered by ‘no’. The real question obviously is: Will Google continue the service long enough for you? I wouldn’t really care if Google would stop the service over 300 years or so, at that moment I’m probably dead :) But, how much can you trust a company that is just a few years old to store your data for the next 20, 50 years or so? I’ve seen companies to stop offering a service at deleting the data without any notice. Of course, the change that a company such as Google will do such a thing is a lot smaller than the next other company, but will you take the chance?

The last one, again, will you take the chance? In the case of personal mail this might not be the most important question, but in other cases this question is more important.