Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why I stick with Outlook

Over the last 10 months I have been complaining loudly about Outlook and how it has frustrated me because of a few issues with performance. Several of my friends have recommended to me to use Web mail to handle my email. Centrally processed, backed up on a remote server, and accessible from anywhere in the world. All valid and tempting reasons for sure, but there are several reasons why I won't ever use Web mail:

1) All the email resides on a server and the server has limits of 10MB for my host. I can probably pay to get this bumped to a higher limit, but I have 10 years of historical emails in Outlook and my main PST file and archives totally more than 3.0GB.

2) I don't control my own data. All my contacts, all my folders, all my emails. If the server is not backed up correctly it could all get deleted. Worse yet, what happens when I am not happy about the hosting provider, how would this information get moved to a new hosting company and server?

3) In general Web mail stinks. It is definitely not as rich as the Outlook interface and not as powerful with respect to rules to file email to folders. I do use Web mail when I am away from my computer or don't have wireless Internet access except through my phone. Handling email via the phone is a task, but usable when I have too (like sitting in an airport, or stuck in a traction machine at the chiropractor, or waiting between appointments).

I don't always read Robert Scoble these days as I find most of what he is talking about irrelevant to me, but occasionally I will scan his post topics to see if something interesting comes up. Some of his recent posts have been quite interesting about how he broke the terms of one of the social networking services and had everything erased from his account and was locked out. Photos, video, and things other people posted. Almost as if it came right out of a science fiction movie. Scary!

How much data is out there on the Web that is out of the control of the users? I am guessing a lot. Granted, having access to the information from any computer is cool and productive. My wife is the perfect example: she does not really have her own computer. So she rotates to any computer in the house that is open to check her email. I occasionally back up her contact list to CSV format and download a copy to the server. She would be unhappy if her email evaporated one day, but life would go on for the most part. Nothing mission critical.

There is no way in heck I would allow other companies to control my data. Not my business data, and not my personal data. This is exactly why I use a program on my computer to control my email, and why I have a word processor and spreadsheet program locally. I am not a future customer of Google Apps.

Even though my blog is handled through Blogger, all my posts are posted to my hosted Web site, and yes, I do back those up so they do not evaporate one day.

I will not rely on online backup services to protect my backups. I handle them myself. If there is anyone to blame for losing something, all I have to do is look in the mirror.

Data is too important to trust to someone else. I do not want to be the victim of erasure like Robert Scoble.

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