Yuhnke Commentary: Watch your step around 'the cloud'

PHOENIX - Earlier this week I got an e-mail from Flip Video that got me thinking.

You're probably familiar with the extremely popular Flip Video pocket camcorders . Three years ago, the company was unstoppable! They were changing the camcorder business as we knew it. They were doing so well that networking giant, Cisco, bought the company in 2009 . To the surprise of many, the Flip camcorder brand was shut down entirely about 11 months ago.

That brings me back to the e-mail. Flip offered a service called FlipShare . It allowed users of Flip cameras to upload their videos into the "cloud." The e-mail I received basically says that the company is shutting down long term storage on the FlipShare website.

If you had previously used FlipShare as a place to store your videos, it's a mess. To Cisco's defense, they are working with givit.com to make the process of transferring your videos to that site super easy. You can also go into Flipshare and download your videos back to your home PC.

Regardless, people who originally used Flipshare did so because it made life easier. Now, they're left trying to clean up the Flippin' mess left behind by Cisco.

There's a bigger lesson to be learned here. While the convenience of the cloud is AMAZING, there's a risk that we're taking. When we put our important photos and videos in the hands of a company, we're giving up a sliver of control.

That company could go belly up or simply decide to get out of the business of cloud storage. Most will offer a way out but that defeats the whole purpose of using cloud storage. I use it to make life easier not to complicate things.

Our lives are online these days and it's almost impossible to avoid it. My advice is to take baby steps and ALWAYS keep local backups of everything. Store your photos in the cloud, but have them on a hard drive in your home, too.

You just never know when a company might pull a Cisco on you and decide it's time to shut down the cloud. 

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