Rory Cellan-Jones

Lost in the cloud

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 8 Jul 08, 17:10 GMT

Google Docs homepageI've got used to writing articles and scripts that I need to access both at home and at work as Google documents. That way they are available anywhere that I have access to the internet, safely stored on Google's servers.

But suddenly this afternoon - just as I was in the middle of writing another blog post - Google Docs went down: "The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request."

A timely reminder that "cloud computing", where everything you own is held somewhere in the internet cloud, can have its limitations. I'm sure Google will have this sorted within minutes - but right now I'm wishing I'd saved my work locally, or even printed out a draft.


  • Comment number 1.

    Thanks for your post Rory, I was wondering what was wrong and found your post in Google News.

    Hopefully it'll be sorted out soon, but it has been 40 minutes since your post and it's still down.

  • Comment number 2.

    Saw your update on twitter and felt the pain.

    Have you tried the "offline" version using google gears?

    It saves your stuff locally which means if there's a connection problem you can carry on working offline and it'll synchronise next time you connect.

    It works across Macs, Linux and Windows in Firefox and Internet Explorer.

    I'm guessing that might have worked when the server went wrong today.


  • Comment number 3.

    Still better that a hard disk failure on your PC...

  • Comment number 4.

    Try Buzzword at Never let me down yet.

  • Comment number 5.

    Just install Google Gears and it'll solve this problem. Google is one step ahead of you.

  • Comment number 6.

    Google Docs is still officially "Beta" so expect some bugs!

  • Comment number 7.

    Maybe you are better off working on it locally and uploading the latest version before you change locations.

  • Comment number 8.

    Live mesh would solve this problem for you seemlessly.

    Google docs are horrible in my limited experience. Their several versions off having something usable. This is a beta of v1.

    Office is miles ahead and Live mesh can give you all the cloud storage you need.

  • Comment number 9.

    Another solution, although not online, would be to simply buy a USB stick. I remember the first one I bought was a good few years ago, with just 128MB memory at £19.99 I thought it a bargain at the time.
    But things have seriously moved on since then I have several 1 and 2GB sticks which cost me no more than £15 each, and will hold more documents than I'll ever have.
    And I find with a stick that small I can just stick it in my pocket, or wallet, or anywhere else and just go.
    That way I don't have to be connected to the net to access documents, and is a hell of a lot quicker to just stick it in the drive, and open the documents, than sign into google docs and download them again!
    Just another option...

  • Comment number 10.

    In response to the above, can I ask how you plug a USB stick into your mobile phone? I also concur with previous comments that Live mesh is the best solution.

  • Comment number 11.

    hasn't anyone produced a wifi/bluetooth 10GB memory stick yet? It would combine all the availability of being in your pocket without all the hassle of taking it out of the pocket. Add GPS and you may even be able to tell through fire eagle which other coat you left it in by accident.

    if no one has made it yet can I have the royalties when they do???? :-)

  • Comment number 12.

    There's a great post by Microsoft's Don Dodge on this very subject:-

    I think this is one reason why Ray Ozzie at Microsoft is going to be proved right about the next technological shift being "software plus services" rather than a complete move into cloud computing. I think people prefer to keep their most important information close to them rather than on the web - and by this I don't mean their important emails and articles, but rather their company's confidential spreadsheets with their 5 year revenue and cost forecasts - and not just for security's sake, but mainly for access wherever and whenever without the internet.

    As a Brit, I have been building a website called WikiWorldBook for the last six months with American developers and we have made great use of collaborative programs like Google Docs to document and comment on the design stages. Its worked brilliantly well and we haven't lost any information or had a failure of access - but I believe that you use tools to do a particular job and one tool does not suit all. So for that reason, I wouldn't use Google Docs to work on or store my company's financial data but I would very definately use it for project design. I therefore think its the type of information that defines where its used and stored.


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