October 4th, 2007


live journal backups

I am normally very hesitant to use online hosting services -- I run my own web server, email, file server, etc. I don't use Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. I don't like anyone having access to my data except for myself because I worry about that data disappearing.

The biggest exception to all of this is that I like using LiveJournal as a blogging tool. Their terms of service are "nice" by which I mean that they explicitly state that everything that I post is MY PROPERTY and not theirs. And yesterday I stumbled across ljdump, a simple python script that takes a username and password, and archives all of that account's posts and comments.

Not that I think LiveJournal is going to disappear tomorrow, or suddenly turn evil. I just think it's smart, as a computer user, to always have backups of everything.

I also applaud LiveJournal for having APIs that allow third party software to easily export all of a user's content. It means that LiveJournal is competing for users based on things like features, and not based on your data being locked into their system. They give their users choice and freedom, and I recognize and support that by paying the $20 for a premium account, even if I know that I'll never use most of the premium features.

Anyway, the moral of today's story is this: never let any of your data exist in only one location. Back up your USB keys. Back up your hard disks. Distribute that data across multiple servers to guard against hardware failure. If you are worried about privacy, encrypt your data first (but make sure you keep a backup of your private key in a secure location).

All of this can be done with cron jobs, and both storage and bandwidth are cheap.