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Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Dear Google User...

I have wondered for some time how long it can be sustainable for internet providers to keep storing ever increasing amounts of data. It all relies on chains of energy-burning electronics which must be enormously expensive in terms of hardware and energy use. It has even been suggested that if each person in Britain sent one fewer email per day it could save over 16,000 tons of carbon a year, equivalent to thousands of flights.

It looks as if Google are beginning to do something. Like me, you may have received this email:

Dear Google User,

We are writing to let you know that we recently announced new storage policies for Google Accounts using Gmail, Google Drive (including Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, Forms, and Jamboard files) and/or Google Photos that bring us in line with industry practices. Since you have previously used one or more of these products in your Google Account storage, we wanted to tell you about the new policies well before they go into effect on June 1, 2021. Below is a summary of the new policies. Please reference our Help Center article for a complete list of what's changing...

The email provides links to policies and a help centre article. 

In essence, it goes on to say that if after the 1st June, 2023, you have not used these services for 24 months, or if you have exceeded your storage quota, they might delete your content. Other outfits such as Flickr have already started deleting things. I like the bit about it being “in line with industry practices” as if they have some kind of standards. There is the suspicion it is all about cutting the costs of non-profitable activities.

In other words, we can’t assume our stuff is going to remain in perpetuity. I guess, eventually, this may also apply to Blogger, Wordpress and other blogging platforms. At present, we can read blogs written twenty years ago or more, but it might not always be the case. All those interesting, witty and wonderful posts and comments we have all made could simply disappear.

57 comments:

  1. I have been considering having my own server for some time now. I refuse to use iCloud in any case, so I don't particularly worry about personal files and photos getting lost.

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    1. I don't use i-anything. I do use google drive for some things I link to on blogs, and for files shared with others. As regards blog posts, I've retained mine on computer, but as I only post about once a week that's do-able.

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    2. I have been using the iCan in place of the mobile phone for at least 60 years. You get two tin cans and punch a hole into the base of each, through which you thread a knotted piece of string. You stand some distance apart and pull the string taught. The caller speaks into his empty can and the receiver puts his can to his ear. Impossible to hack, but the call can be intercepted by a third party standing close to either party.

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    3. How long is a piece of string? I was told the answer is 42 inches - the length needed to hold up a navvy's trousers.

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    4. Good question. I would think that that it should keep the callers as far apart as they would to not be able to hear a whisper with their naked ear, and not so far apart that it collapses under its own weight.

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    5. You'll have your own tin, but I'll send you one end of a piece of string by carrier pigeon.

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  2. Eh no. Haven't received it. I never understood about remote type of storage Google have tried to attract me to nor ever used it and will be more than happy for my stuff to simply disappear in any case if it comes to Blogger clearance. I've already deleted at least 10 years worth of blogging myself both deliberately or accidentally. I have a Gmail account that I opened one night when fiddling around and then of course couldn't get rid of it.. It comes in handy for blogging but that's all. There is a lot of very out of date stuff on the web, it would be good to see it go away.

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    1. It is irritating to find old information when looking up something like local authority recycling or tax rules - even gov.uk is guilty of this. I have used google drive for things you can't put directly into Blogger such as pdf files, and linked to them. As regards blogs, I suppose it depends what it is. As I've said before, mine isn't really a proper blog in the sense of it being a diary, so I like to think that at least one or two posts are of lasting interest. I often find useful posts from long ago on other blogs.

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  3. There is so much information out there. If we didn't have to wade through the out of date stuff, it would make things easier.

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    1. See last part of my reply to Rachel, immediately above. Some of your posts would give lasting enjoyment. The tale you posted about the fruitcake recipe (November 28th) was brilliant.

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    2. Mrs. D. has just pointed out that if you had blogged the recipe all that time ago you would have had both parts of it.

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    3. Mrs D is wise, but that fruitcake recipe predates personal computers. It was back in the day when people wrote letters and grandmas sent recipes. My God. I sound like an antique.

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  4. A good opportunity to clear out all my e-rubbish as well as my house contents.

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    1. But which is the value stuff and which is the rubbish? Babies and bathwater.

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    2. I doubt that anything of mine would be classified as value.

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  5. WHAT? You mean the GENIUS of my blog could DISAPPEAR? OUTRAGEOUS!

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  6. Gosh. I would hate for my blog or anybody elses to disappear. It's like a Chronicle of life here in rural Ireland, the kids when they were much younger, rock concerts, places visited and beloved pets who are no longer with us.

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    1. Like the wartime Mass Observation diary project, many blogs are sociological documents with lasting interest and it would be a real loss for them to disappear. At present I am just speculating that Google might one day take such a decision.

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  7. I'm receiving notifications that my storage is 'full' and I should consider paying for more storage or else I might lose data. I don't think I will pay for more capacity. -probably cull the archives instead.

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    1. It might depend on what it is that is full - is it the Blogger account or Google Drive or something else. You could just create a new gmail account and use it to create more Google Drive storage and move some of it to there. Don't use Mickey Mouse or Donald Trump, though, those IDs will already have been taken.

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    2. Yes, thank you, I will steer clear of those IDs. :)

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  8. Thanks for the warning Tasker. I can look back over all the blogposts I have made since June 2005. It would be so sad if they all disappeared but this has already happened with Panoramio - a worldwide photo-hosting site. I had over a thousand pictures on there - all labelled and geographically located and then one day they were all gone - courtesy of Google.

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    1. As commented above, I'm only speculating that this could happen, but for these businesses to store ever-increasing quantities of non-profit-making stuff is clearly unsustainable. I find it scary that some of them have located their servers north of the Artic Circle to make it easier to get rid of the heat they generate.

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    2. I think your speculation is logical and believable.

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  9. Thanks for flagging this up. I got an external hard drive yonks ago and try to keep my own archive. I did this after I had to get google to delete a whole blog because I couldn't sign into it for some reason. I guess the moral is, never trust the internet to archive your stuff.

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    1. It's easy to become paranoid about it, though. What happens if the hard drive gets corrupted. Should you back up the backup? If so, how do you avoid confusion as to which is the latest one? I've been there.

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  10. I reached my blog photo storage capacity a long time ago, so I started paying for extra storage. It was only £4 a year, they called it Google Play. Then a couple of years ago I got notification that I no longer needed to pay and they wouldn't be taking any more money. I'll wait to see what happens next.

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    1. You made me wonder what my usage is. To find out you click your image or account icon in the top right hand corner of the google search page (you have to be signed in to Google), which pulls down a pane on which you can click "Manage your Google Account" in the middle. That leads to a page on which one of the main items is Account Storage which shows your usage. I've hardly used any - 0.14GB of the 15GB allowed.

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    2. That was useful - thank you for that. And I agree with your observation about sociological documents with lasting interest. What will historians of the future trawl through when no paper documents of this period exist and the electronic record of it does not survive?

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    3. See also my reply to Graham Edwards - 2nd below.

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  11. The letter I got in the US said that if one exceeds 15GB you will have to buy more storage. If I continued to average my current usage I'd hit 15GB in four years. Guess it is a good thing I haven't traveled since January--my last trip to the UK pre-Covid. Not many photos taken this year otherwise. Hardly get to see the grandchildren--especially now with our numbers soaring again. I do have several external hard drives for transferring things, so not too worried.

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    1. See reply to Graham Edwards, next below. It seems that if images are on blogger, and not too high resolution, they don't count towards the limit.

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  12. A problem for some people may be the size of the photos they use in their blogs or storage. I reduce the size of all the photos that I use on my blogs so that they don't, despite having blogged since 2007, amount to a a great deal of storage. I know some people who used full size photos and were told they had exceeded their limits. You can, of course, download everything from Google which many people do not know.

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    1. It's even better than that. Looking around again I see that Blogger images do not count towards the limit so long as they do not exceed 2048 pixels in height or width. That would explain why my own usage seems so low. However, there is no knowing how long that policy will last (or even if the information is up to date!).

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    2. Yes. That's why I reduce all my images to a maximum of 800px. That's adequate for any blog I would have thought but does mean a bit more work.

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  13. I read that notice and smiled. I like the idea of all dropping off the back end, and eventually being gone.

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  14. I received the same notice. If I ever have anything I want to save whether it is email, blog posts or photos, I make a point to save it on my computer or on one of several external hard drives I have. I don't trust anything being saved on the internet. I have an Amazon account and it includes unlimited photo storage which I love as a back up for my many photos. However, I still keep all photos on an external drive. I guess I may have internet trust issues!

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    1. I suffer fromm backup paranoia too. I don't know how many copies of previous versions I have. It has been getting out of hand since I discovered how to take the hard drives out of old laptops and use those for external storage.

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  15. When you are dead the world ceases to exist anyway....... and on that profound note I do have a couple of external drives, it is just the boring job of switching stuff.

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    1. I'm more Thomas Hardy than that - see His Immortality.

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  16. Reading through the comments has been quite an eye opener. I am amazed at how people worry about stuff like this. I couldn't give a toss about any of it. Live for the moment and life without photos and blogs goes on, free and unfettered. Incidentally, I have now received the Google email.

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    1. It's not a worry to me, because we can do something about it. I'm not content unless I have projects on the go, of which blogging is one.

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    2. Yes blogging for me too. But if some old ones go missing you just pick yourself up, brush yourself down and start all over again!

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  17. Rachel has an interesting and pragmatic take on this ..and I actually concur with her.
    I feel I would like to start blogging again...
    Chin chin

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    1. There are clearly two views. I lean more towards (hoping for) the lasting interest end, but as I replied to Rachel's earlier comment near the top, mine isn't a "web log". I'm glad they are not deleting blogs for now - I found some useful stuff in a 10 year old post on Brian Sibley's blog.

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  18. My reading of the letter suggests that it's only inactive bloggers who will be affected:

    "If you're inactive for two years (24 months) in Gmail, Drive or Photos, we may delete the content in the product(s) in which you're inactive. Google One members who are within their storage quota and in good-standing will not be impacted by this new inactive policy.
    • If you exceed your storage limit for two years, we may delete your content across Gmail, Drive and Photos."

    Having read the letters in greater detail I can find no reference at all to blogs themselves.

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    1. Yes, I am only speculating at the moment that this could eventually apply to blogs. It may be a long time coming but I think the trend is clear because it is obviously unsustainable for them to continue doubling (or more) the amount of stuff stored away every year or so. Gives us time to prepare. There is a 'Back Up Content' option in the 'Manage Blog' section of the Settings page, although for some of us that could be a big download.

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    2. I've always backed up my blog every 6 months or so or less if I remember. I have a feeling, though , and I must check this, that so far as all the pictures are concerned they are not backed ub but simply that their location is backed up. So if out pictures go a large part of out blogs would go. I must check that out.

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    3. I've just checked and you are right - it downloads the blog text, comments and presumably the links in xml form (which is a pain) and no images. I usually compose my posts in Word and then paste into blogger and add the images, so I've got it all backed up anyway, but it looks like there would be difficulties for anyone wanting to back up lots of posts that only exist on blogger. There may be ways round it.

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    4. Well I do store all my photos used in the blog on a hard drive (which is, in turn backed up). I have almost finished having hard copies made of my New Zealand blog but that doesn't include comments, which is a big part of blogging for me.

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    5. I wish I had blogger gets rid of very old photos . Many of my archived blogs have no accompanying visuals at all

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  19. Re your comment on the career in lace, lol
    Miss Hall originally came from Nottingham and obviously did well in her job and for a spinster to own her own home and have a telephone in those days was unusual.
    Briony
    x

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    1. She sounds quite a character. Apologies for my irreverent comment. (This refers to a post on Briony's blog)

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  20. Important blogs, such as mine haha, are archived by our State Library. I suppose what Google is doing is clearing out 'dead' people's files.

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    1. National and State Libraries seem the best bet for immortality. Publish blog as printed book with ISBN and send copy to library to get it archived and catalogued - a a lot of effort.

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