"My kid knows everything about tech, I'm clueless and they do it all for me."
"I have an iCloud subscription, all my photos and family videos are safe. Even if I lose my phone, they're all backed up in the cloud."
Neither of these statements are wrong. But......
Millennials are avid consumers of tech, but as they have never known life without it, their ability to really know how it works can be limited. Clouds are great, I, myself, use various clouds, but they are only as safe as you are savvy.
A couple of years ago a friend came to stay with her 16 year old daughter. Like many teens, this kid’s phone was the centre of her life. It was an old iPhone and it was the greatest gift she had ever received. However, she had dropped it (probably whilst looking at snapchat and not where she was going) and the screen was shattered. Her mother was fuming as it was phone number 3 that she had dropped; and she was struggling to save up the cost of a new screen. After a few days of seeing her trying to read this smashed screen, I told her that I had recently replaced my iPhone and she could have my old one. Cue instantaneous joy and a sudden positive change in her sulky behaviour.
I had transferred all of my apps to my new phone, but I hadn't yet 'wiped' the old phone. So, I told my friends daughter to wipe the phone or change the apple id, clear all my stuff off the phone and then she could use it. I trusted her - after all - she was a teen! Her life revolved around playing with her phone for as many hours as she could a day.
She messed with it for an hour or so and then asked, ‘can I delete your photos?’ I asked if she had changed the apple id to her own. Yup she replied. I told her to double check and then she could delete the photos as I already had them all on my new phone.
The next morning, I was about to text my friend when I noticed that her name had changed to 'Mama💖'. Now it has never occurred to me to put an emoji on a name in my contacts, so I start scrolling and see 'Fifi 🥑😋' and 'Mathias le nul 👽' etc. in amongst my contacts. Oh no, my contacts were all intermingled with hers. Not a massive problem as mine were in my iCloud. But then I look at my photos. Totally empty. Two years of photos, of my family, my house renovation….. She had deleted them all (as I told her she could). BUT she had also deleted them from my iCloud.
Basically, she had changed my user id to hers in iTunes but not in iCloud. An easy mistake to make for anyone especially as most people have the same email address and password for both and don’t know the difference. When she had uploaded her contacts to the phone, they all joined my iCloud. But when she deleted the photos, she chose the ‘delete permanently from iCloud’ option. It was all quite catastrophic. Luckily, being the nerd that I am, I also had my photos auto sync to dropbox so they do still exist.
The moral of this story? iCloud (or any cloud) should not be the only security for your personal photos, and important data. It is VERY easily deleted as I learned the hard way. You can accidentally delete documents; your kid could delete photos; a thief might delete everything. Most of us pay a subscription to some form of cloud-based storage. What we don’t realise, is that no matter how safe the cloud may be, it is often quite easy to accidentally or intentionally delete things from it permanently. Do make sure you have an additional back-up system or two! I have another online service and a home cloud which is like a hard drive that backs up both of my laptops daily. There are many solutions out there and it is worth investing some time and effort to find the one which will work best for you and your family to keep your work, your essential documents and your cherished memories safe. Just get in touch if you'd like a review of your current systems and a quote for any necessary updates. email@example.com