One more reason we need personal clouds

A couple days ago I went to an Apple store with my iPhone 4, which was running down its battery for no apparent reason. I forget the diagnosis, which didn’t matter as much as the cure: wiping the phone and restoring its apps. I would lose settings, I was told, and whatever data wasn’t stored with the apps’ cloud services. There was really no choice. So I did it.

As a result, I seem to have lost at least all of the following:

  • Everything I’ve recorded with the Moves activity tracker since I got it early this year.
  • Every tune I’ve ever tagged with Shazam, going back to 2007. The screen shot on the left are two songs I tagged today. That’s all I’ve got
  • All data from all my games
  • All my settings, whatever they were
  • Other data I don’t even want to know at this point

Why can’t this data be restored? For example,

  • Why will Angry Birds Seasons welcome me back by name and not remember that I had already cleared nearly every game in every season? (Mostly riding in subways, by the way.)
  • What’s the point of having a login with Moves if it’s not to have a cloud that remembers my data? I can’t see data in Moves if I’m not online anyway, so I know the data is in a cloud somewhere.
  • Why should I lose every text and all records of recent phone calls?

I mean, if all this data is kept somewhere, why not in a place from which the data can be recoverad by users?

At this point, far as I know (which isn’t far enough), the only way to get my data back is to do this:

  1. Wipe the phone again
  2. Restore it from the last backup
  3. Take shots of screens with data in them, for every app I care about

Then I’ll have data in screen shots, rather than in a more useful form. But at least I’ll know what I lose when I “restore” the phone completely.

Obviously neither Apple nor the app makers care much about this. But users do. And where there is a will, there should be a way.

I believe the way is personal clouds for users, and APIs for the app makers.

Personal clouds are clouds that individuals have, for their own data. We should be able to make logical connections between our apps, the APIs of the app vendors, and our own clouds, facilitating automatic data backup to our own spaces, rather than just those of Apple, Google or the app makers.

Lots of companies and development projects doing that are listed here. If you know others that belong there, tell me.

[Later (24 December)]… Items:


  1. Jeffrey Herr’s avatar

    What are you talking about? As long as you use the backup feature, the entire phone comes back… I do it all the time.

  2. jmsmcfrlnd’s avatar

    nbsp; open source password safe that also stores metadata with user accounts.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    The phone had a problem that only a complete wipe and restore (not from a backup — just the apps) would cure. I still have a backup of the state of the phone while still sick. I could use that, but it would restore the problem as well. Or so I was told.

  4. Doc Searls’s avatar

    jmscmfrind, that’s a bad link. I think you mean . Windows-only, it appears. Won’t work for me.

  5. Christopher Aloi’s avatar

    Hi – fellow moves user – they have an API so you may be able to pull your data out – not a solution, but better then a total loss.

  6. Fatemeh’s avatar

    Interesting. I had nearly the exact opposite experience when my Android was stolen last month.

    I bought a new phone, logged in with the three Google accounts I’d registered on my previous phone, and nearly every app (plus their data), device setting, even my home screen and lock screen images (!!!), were restored.

    While I marveled at how seamless and awesome that was, I definitely found myself wondering how well that data was encrypted, and who else had access to it. I was never ASKED upon logging in if I WANTED those settings restored, either, which in hindsight, also kind of weird.

    With some digging, I was able to find where those data could be wiped, but of course, I don’t want to do that. I’d just rather have a little more control over it.

    Anyway, I certainly prefer my experience over yours, but neither is designed to be user-transparent.

  7. Ryan Schilling’s avatar

    Yeah it seems silly that this isn’t a “norm” on many things and on others having a personal cloud is second nature. At we are utilizing many services and tools online that have personal clouds which make it much easier for us to do our work wherever, whenever.

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