Here’s a myth most people believe in: things on the internet stay forever. The reality is far from it.
Left and right we hear of websites and apps shutting down. The internet has already bid farewell to Vine, Google Reader, Friendster, Multiply, and more.
Even the biggest names on the internet have shut down some of their services. For instance, Apple had to let go of Ping, its music-based social network. Facebook and Google also have their fair share of failed services. Long story short, any digital service is in danger of shutting down out of the blue.
This reality can be a blessing and a curse. On one hand, this means that those embarrassing photos and videos of yours will soon drift into oblivion. However, you also need to always be ready to say goodbye anytime to your photos and files uploaded online. And while we can’t necessarily predict when a digital service will close up shop, the best we can do is to prepare ourselves.
Use as many services as you can
Are your photos already uploaded on iCloud or Google Photos? For safety measures, why not upload it to other platforms like Dropbox and OneDrive? This way, when one of these services bites the dust, your memories will still be safe on the other sites.
Download an archive of your data
It might sound complicated to go deep into the settings of your favorite platforms, but it is a must. You need to learn all you can on how you can save your digital identity before a service pulls down the shutters. You wouldn’t want your profile—which you spent all these years curating—to be gone, right?
Thankfully, Facebook, Apple, Google, and more allow you to download a copy of your data in case the unfortunate happens. You don’t have to do this every day, though. We recommend you download your data every couple of months just to be sure.
While there’s some prestige in signing up to obscure and exclusive apps and sites, the risk of shutting down is also higher since only a few people use their services. Favor apps, sites, and gadgets that are universal and allow you to easily share data to other platforms. One best example is your Gmail account, which you can easily plug in to another service so you can transfer your data.
Know your way out
Remember the 2009 movie Zombieland? One of Columbus’s rules in surviving the apocalypse is, “When in doubt, know your way out.” The same rule can be applied in preparing yourself in case your favorite app or site pulls the plug (basically the end of the world for others, too).
If you’re looking for new services to sign up for online, one precaution you can take is to check if it has a backdoor for exporting data. For example, WhatsApp allows you to back up your conversations to an email account.
This story was originally published in Speed Magazine’s April 2019 issue. Words by Ayie Licsi.