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Where is my data?

It's 2:00am - do you know where your data is?

The answer will surprise you, it is scattered all over the world in multiple companies across hundreds of computers.

Having stuff on multiple sites is fine until you need to see it all, or want to search across all of them. The image below shows just where your information is currently stored.

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List of your data and common cloud storage locations

If we break down the list of where your personal data is stored into areas, you can see the sorts of information that is stored below, along with some typical example companies/sites.

Documents and information

Email - Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, AOL, Mail.com,
Documents - Microsoft, Dropbox, Google Drive, Zoho
Notes - Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep, SimpleNote, LifePIM
Tasks and Projects - Microsoft, Trello, Todoist, Any.do, TikTok, Things

Social Data

Events: Facebook, Outlook, WhatsApp
Photos: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumbler, Snapchat
Your views / Likes dislike: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, other forums
Your list of Friends: Facebook, WhatsApp,

Health Data

Medical History: your Doctor, Government (eg for rebates), Insurance companies
List of food you buy: Shopping card loyalty programs
Medications Taken: Pharmacy loyaltycards, Doctors office
Where you walk: Google location, fitbit
How you sleep: Fitbit, Google sleep, phone sleep apps

Professional Life

Resume: LinkedIn
Places you worked: LinkedIn
Contract Work: various online work sites (TODO - find the names)
QA about your career: Trade specific forums such as stackoverflow, woodwork forums, etc

How you have fun

Parties: All social media photos (including ones others tag you in)
Concerts: Bank and credit card statements, WhatsApp
Game screenshots: Steam
Game Achievements: usually stored on game servers (Steam, EA, Blizzard, etc)

Your "private" life

Nude Selfies: Snapchat
People you want to have sex with: Tinder, Snapchat, other dating sites
Your sexual preferences: Any porn sites you visit can log your IP address and browser fingerprint

Everything you lookup or browse

Search results: Google, Bing,
Your complete internet usage history: Your ISP

Wow, you are still here, that was a big list! So - feeling nervous about all that data held by other companies? Don't be too concerned, as they only stay in business if they continue to keep our data private and secure. But it is good to know just how much is stored around the place.

So What?

Yes my data is spread around a lot of companies on a lot of apps - but does this really matter? It is all easily accessible from my phone or computer with a few clicks, and it is so convenient. What exactly is the problem?

The main problem is that you don't have the data yourself. The above places can stop their services or worse simply go away. Even Google drops high profile applications if they are not successful, meaning that in a few months you wont be able to browse posts there - you *have* to download your data if you want to see it.

Not too many years ago, we would create our content on our computers and then upload a *copy* to the cloud, but these days most editing is done online only, and lets face it - most of us don't save a local copy after we do each edit.

What now?

So the point of this article is to demonstrate *where* your personal data lives, and clearly it is all over the damn place. You may do backups of your own stuff at home, and it is pretty clear now that you should probably do a backup of your data to your own computer - there is a very reasonable probability that at least one of the above services will go out of business meaning you might lose that data. Which one? Probably not the big ones, but we don't know.

The article below shows you how to download your data from the common services and what you should do with it.

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Return to Blog index

Feb 2021
  • Practical Documentation for Teams of Information workers
  • Feb 2020
  • Steps to build a world with Unreal Engine 4
  • Jul 2019
  • What would it take to play your Avatar on any game?
  • May 2019
  • Where is my data?
  • What do I do if I lose a digital photo or document?
  • February 2019
  • Checklist for building a business website
  • January 2019
  • What software will you trust when you get senile?
  • December 2018
  • What is the point of a Personal knowledge base?
  • November 2018
  • How to Download your personal data from the cloud
  • Take time to relax
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  • Teams - you need ONE person to maintain your data
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  • Setting up LifePIM and importing your Notes
  • Lets talk about data!