Own Your Data

The impending closure of the Eduspaces service has many people wondering what to do and several options are cropping up in the online discussions.

For those not in the know, Eduspaces is/was a free, social networking and blogging service built on the Elgg open source platform. It used to be called elgg.net but was changed to Eduspaces when it became obvious that the community came mostly from the educational sector. I’ve used Elgg for some of my clients and have had an Eduspaces account, but my main site has always been here. I pay for my hosting, own the data, and use an open source platform so that I can export my blog in the event that I want to move to a different service provider.

Anyone who asks me about blogging or setting up a community on the Web using wikis or some other application is given pretty well the same advice.  If the site is important and the data are of some significance for the long term, then:

  1. Use an open source platform from a stable and functioning community.
  2. Own your own domain, and have a Service Level Agreement for your hosting.

Using open source gives you freedom from vendors and ensures that you are not handcuffed to your technology provider. Having your own domain name and paying for a service provider (or hosting on your own server) ensure that you have control over your data.

The users of Eduspaces are in a much better position than would be those of Blogger in a similar event. At least the Eduspaces community can migrate to another Elgg host. There is no other Blogger platform to move to.

If I had to move a large Eduspaces account, I would find another Elgg installation. I migrated from Drupal to WordPress (which I don’t regret) a couple of years ago, but it’s a heck of a lot easier to stick with the same platform.

11 Responses to “Own Your Data”

  1. Ron Lubensky

    I currently use Blogger, but self-host on my ISP’s server. I agree that it would be safer to control my own pHp too. I still like WordPress, having used it before, but with extra control comes a bit of extra work. With a quick check I found an import plug-in to bring Blogger posts into WordPress, perhaps there are others. In a comment to that post, someone else suggests that Blogger can export feed-like xml that WordPress can import directly. If your post is about keeping with Blogger but shifting self-hosting to a different server or domain, commentators in Blogger Help say that it can be done relatively painlessly.

    Reply
  2. Guy Boulet

    Harold,

    I concur with your arguments. I made the same reflexion when I decided to start my own web site. I wanted a blog but i also wanted the possibility to extend it so I can offer other services in the future. I found some cheap hosting at GoDaddy, rgistered my own domain and used an open source CMS (Joomla!).

    I have full control over my content, its presentation. Of course, it requires some more work than just using an hosted pre-built platform, but the advantages are well worth the efforts.

    Reply
  3. Harold

    Ron, I understand that it’s possible to export data from one platform to another, but usually it is not seamless. I’m still cleaning things up from my Drupal-WordPress transfer. There are other issues, such as changes in permalinks that can be a pain for readers too.

    Reply
  4. Harold

    Guy, you show that’s it’s possible to do this for a reasonable price and with a CMS that’s pretty easy to set up. In my own case, my blog doesn’t cost a lot.

    Again, this is only necessary if your information is important to you. A free hosted service, like wordpress.com, is fine if owning your data is not critical for you.

    Reply
  5. Daniel Lemire

    Of course, even if you manage your own site, you still have to backup your data! It won’t do you much go to have your own mysql server when the server farm burns to the ground.

    😉

    Reply
  6. Dave Ferguson

    My blog’s on my own domain; my ISP is Bluehost. Being paranoid about my data, I take two extra steps:

    (1) WordPress has an option to back up your blog (under Tools / Backup, scroll down to “Scheduled Backup”). I’ve set mine to email me a daily backup of the database files.

    (2) Once a month I use a FTP tool to back up all the WP files, which in my case include uploaded images, WP plugins, and any customization I’ve done to the PHP code (not much, which makes it all the more important to back up, since I’ll forget what I did).

    Reply

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