I put my head in The Cloud. . .and lost it!

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A stark warning to those who ‘over-trust’ technology: writer and former editor ERIC MUSGRAVE blows his top over the loss of some of his lifetime archive 

 

I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’VE HEARD, but the future is all about ‘the internet of everything’ and The Cloud, and how it’s all going to be great.

JUST AS LONG AS YOU DON’T RELY ON IT!

Seduced by the hype, earlier this year I uploaded my massive digital archive of many hundreds of family photographs, work photographs and work-related files to the OneDrive Cloud storage system run by Microsoft, the friendly wee company founded by that nice Mr Gates.

Barely five months later, Microsoft has lost virtually all my archive.

According to the company’s robotic response to my inquiries, “our logs indicate that these items were never successfully uploaded to The Cloud for your account”.

Funnily enough, until May 20 this year all was well: I accessed various parts of my Cloud-based archive on an almost daily basis. Then my laptop went on the blink. Days later, when I set up a replacement , most of the archive had vanished from OneDrive.

My archive had years ago been carefully arranged into 12 folders, which in turn opened into a series of sub-folders. Each of those 12 main folders held A LOT of data. Today, only Folder 1, with its large 8.97GB of digital info. still has all the individual files in its subfolders.

Folder 2 has only 17.68MB, which equates to fewer than 20 digital photos; Folder 3 has just 5.32MB ( a single high-resolution digital photo requires more than that!); Folder 4 amounts to 505MB, which may be almost all of its original content, but who knows? I cannot recall every photo that I might have stored there.

And Folders 5-12? They have ALL their sub-folders and sub-sub folders intact, BUT ALL ARE EMPTY!

This random availability is perplexing. It suggests that Microsoft has lost the missing files somewhere among its colossal network of servers. In Folder 3, for example, there are 29 sub-folders, but only one of them has anything in one of its subsidiary folders. The other two sub-sub folders are empty. How can that be?

One further complication: I have two email addresses which log in to the One Drive account. My Outlook email I use almost exclusively for this purpose. The other, my personal email , I use for everything.

I used OneDrive as part of my Office 365 software program subscription, which costs me £79.99 a year. Since I reported the problem to Microsoft on 24 May, its customer service has been little better than useless. Suspecting there may have been a synchronisation problem between the two accounts, I called Microsoft’s general technical support number and ended up talking with two women in the Philippines (not for nothing is it called the World Wide Web).

By sharing my screen, the first woman was able to see very quickly the problems I was having logging in. Then, suddenly, she disappeared off the call, never to return. When I called again a colleague also understood my problem but told me she was unable to help me further as OneDrive has its own technical support team,which operated solely by email for – you’ve guessed it! –  “security reasons”.

Two weeks latera  OneDrive email informed me that “our logs indicate these items were never successfully uploaded to The Cloud”. So how did I manage to see everything in my Cloud archive for five months? NO RESPONSE.

Microsoft (annual sales $128 BILLION) has proved in my case to be unreliable, inefficient and unwilling to take any responsibility for the failure of its system. My advice is to avoid OneDrive.

TO EVERY CLOUD A SILVER LINING: The only good thing to come out of this sorry tale is that I have discovered the talents of Tommy Howe of Glentek Computers in Wooler. I found him via Google when my laptop failed. He told me it was not worth repairing, organised a new one within 24 hours and stripped everything from the memory of the old one and installed it on the new.

When I went back to him with the problem of the thousands of files missing from OneDrive, he gave a knowing smile and simply said, “That’s Microsoft for you.” He recommended I save all my data on separate hard drives, not The Cloud. Luckily, he then worked some minor miracles and retrieved thousands of files from old hard drives I had kept. Thanks, Tommy!

I now have the mammoth task of rearranging them back into my 12 main folders.

Let’s hope lockdown goes on for a few more months!

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