The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Imagination Technologies's MIPS group, in the past of other companies such as Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yahoo Geocities closing - Don't Trust Free Websites

Yahoo Geocities is closing down.

For several years this was the home of my resume, and other stuff: http://www.geocities.com/andrew_f_glew.

Yahoo gives you the option of paying 5$/month for webhosting, or saving your files. Yahoo requires you to save the files one at a time, clicking Save As on a menu. There is no ability to download all of your files as a tarball or other archive. There is no WebDav access, or other filesystem-like access. I.e. there is no easy path to automatically transferring a large website.

Fortunately, I did not have many files on Yahoo.

Even more fortunately, I abandoned Yahoo Geocities a few months ago, and moved all of my stuff to Google Docs. http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcxddbtr_6dvpxg2cj&hl=en

However, there is no guarantee that Google Docs will remain free, or even available, forever.

Google Docs doesn't appear to have an easy way of downloading all files. Who was it that provided such a facility? One of the wiki sites that closed down?

Coincidentally, I have been shopping for a hopefully more permanent home for me and my files on the web. I've been looking at Amazon S3 and ECC. Yes, I am willing to pay.

Amazon ECC is good for virtual hosting. However, while I like being root, I would also like an ordinary user account on some UNIX system. I would like somebody else to be responsible for keeping up to date on security patches. Ideally I would like to run a wiki on such an account, but I want the wiki to run, not even as me, but as a Mini-Me, with even less privilege.

I guess I want it all: the convenience of having someone else sysadmin, but with the ability to run a small number of personal web services in deprivileged accounts.

For that matter, I'd like the hosting system to run a non-standard OS like FreeBSD, and a non-standard instruction set. ARM? Power? Is it security through obscurity?

As for my free websites:

* I learned that I still hasd a Yahoo mail account from long ago. Once again, no bulk download, unless I upgrade to pay, at which point I get POP.

* Google Docs - no automated access

* Google Mail - I have IMAP and POP access. I think I better start backing it up better.

Backing it up to S3? Wherever.

Just like there is a period of recent history that was lost, because information stopped being recorded on paper and started being recorded on quickly obsolete digital formats such as tape, floppies, etc., now we are traversing the stage where history is lost because of service providers closing down. One can only hope that we will come out the other end with storage as a commodity, with standard procedures for migration.


Wayne said...

Just get an account on nearlyfreespeech.net and put whatever you want on it. Not free, but nearly. And they have great support.

It does mean you need to understand unix and hosting issues.

Anonymous said...

Dreamhost is not terribly expensive and is brainless.

They've had some issues in the past with outages, but hey.

AndyGlew said...

Thanks, Wayne, for the pointer to NearlyFreeSpeech. Looks cool?

No SSL? :-( I'm in the habit of normally using https for most web services. Now I have to think if I really need it, if I want to use NearlyFreeSpeech.

I started writing a long response, and then decided to promote it to a blog entry.