OneDrive: Busting the Backups & Restore Myth

OneDrive: Busting the Cloud Storage Myth

OneDrive is a popular service for providing both personal and business cloud storage availability. However, do you really know if your data is safe from being deleted? Does OneDrive truly provide a full back-up service? Does OneDrive truly have a restore feature for your data? Read on to find out how I lost over 70 Gigabytes of personal data in only a few minutes. The reason… because I stupidly believed the cloud storage myth. Also, find out about OneDrive’s false Ransomware detection glitch involve mass deletion.

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud Storage has become a popular mainstream service. The concept of storing your data in the cloud is, your data is stored off-site and not just on your local computer. This can add advantages such as accessing all your data files from multiple locations, and multiple devices. Cloud services are designed to be able to provide easy, scalable access to both applications, and resources. Those services are fully managed by a cloud service provider such as Google Drive, DropBox, Amazon AWS, and OneDrive.

What is OneDrive?

Since this article focuses primarily around OneDrive as a cloud service, it would be best to describe what OneDrive actually is:

OneDrive is an Internet-based storage platform with a significant chunk of space offered for free by Microsoft to anyone with a Microsoft account. Think of it as a hard drive in the cloud, which you can share, with a few extra benefits thrown in. One of the primary benefits: OneDrive hooks into Windows 10, at least in fits and spurts.

If you are a subscriber to the Office 365 platform, Microsoft throws in up to 1000 Gigabytes (1TB) of space per account holder. Many web sites refer to this as ‘free space’ but if you’re paying a subscription fee, how can it possibly be free I ask?

I have been using OneDrive for cloud storage since way back in 2012. That means I have been an active subscriber to the Office 365 platform for 7 going on 8 years. I have never experienced any issues over the past 8 years until July 2018. More on this later.

Other Cloud Storage Services

It is important to note there are other cloud service providers floating around in the skys. It is necessary to state I have not had experience using the other cloud providers such as Google Drive (with a valid reason), Amazon AWS, and DropBox. Therefore, I am unable to comment on any potential issues, or the inner-workings of how those particular cloud service platforms function in relation to OneDrive (one could make an educated guess though).

I mentioned not using Google Drive for a ‘valid reason’. I need to clarify this before moving forward with the article.

I don’t use any storage services or email services, or software based solutions provided by Google for one reason… My PRIVACY! It is a well-known fact Google scans all your files, the contents for both Google Drive, and Gmail as an email service provider. This data is then used to advertise products and services to you, and your data is offered to third-parties to purchase the rights to advertise directly to you.

When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through Google Drive, you give Google a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our services unless you delete your content. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to Google Drive.

Google Drive – Terms of Service (2019)

As it clearly states in the section above from their Terms of Service (link provided below), they demand a license to basically do anything with your files, and also use them for advertising purposes (they called it, ‘promotion’). What you might not have known is, you grant this license even if you don’t continue to use their service. You must delete the files to stop them from using them. However, Google will have already scanned your files and taken the required information to make a profit. I have never been keen on those terms and refuse to use the service.

What Happened to my OneDrive?

Finally getting to the issue of events at hand, within the opening paragraph I mention losing many gigabytes of personal data using the OneDrive cloud service. You read that correctly… I did indeed lose over 70 Gigabytes of my personal files. So what actually happened?

Initially, I recognised an issue way back in July 2018. At this time, my subscription for Office 365 had expired so I purchased another one. However, this purchase was made through Amazon and resulted in a license key being issued. I then entered this license key into my Microsoft account as required. There was an issue setting this up. The account refused the code and charged me for another subscription. I had to contact Microsoft to have this refunded, and for them to directly accept the new license key I had purchased. You may be asking the reason why I chose Amazon to purchase a new license instead of rolling on my subscription charges? The main reason… price of course.

Eventually, Microsoft added my newly purchased subscription to my account. However, for some unkown reason, this process forced my OneDrive to resync all my personal files to my computer. At the time, I did not think anything of it because of the issues with the license. I did not think to check all my files were there because it clearly stated syncing over 150GB of personal data to my local drive. One would assume this was just a normal process to make sure things were up to date on the subscription.

Moving on from 2018, here comes 2019. I again, did not allow my subscription to renew at the rate Microsoft was charging. I decided to purchase a license key again directly from Amazon at a reduced price. On the 22nd July 2019, my existing subscription expired, and on the same day I purchased another subscription and added this to my account. Needless to say, the license key was accepted this year with what seemed to be no issues. Again, the OneDrive app on my Windows 10 installation started to resync my local contents with the cloud. I did not think anything was wrong because this had happened the previous year.

Something stood out about this sync process though. As it was resyncing, OneDrive app popped up with a message stating there were a large amount of data files in my cloud storage recycle bin and it advised me to delete it. I clicked the link provided in the OneDrive app and allowed those contents to be removed. I did not think anything of it because in my mind, I had never emptied the online OneDrive recycle bin in all the years I had subscribed. I clearly was not using those files and didn’t think there was any harm freeing up some OneDrive space in the cloud. However, this is where the issue became apparent.

What happend to my files?

My syncing process was over much faster than I had expected. This initially caught my attention. In the previous year (2018), I had to wait some time before the sync was fully complete. This year was different. What first struck my shock nerves was the total space my OneDrive took up. It stated just over 70GB of data. Instantly, I thought there must be an error and the sync had not calculated space correctly. I decided to log into my account to double check. Sure enough, the value was the same both on my local drive, and on my cloud storage space allocation values. This is where I started to look into my directories locally to see what could have happened. It was at this point the jaw started to drop, not just drop but with momentum and a crack against the hard wood floor. My work files were all there, my personal documents such as accounts, letters, contacts and more were all there. However, all my family photos and videos had been erased. At first it didn’t look like they had been erased. All the directories were still there intact with names allocated.

Directories in OneDrive - 2019
Directories in OneDrive (2019)

As detailed above, the directories existed and it still stated items were present via the item count on the directory icon. Initially, the photos item count should have been much more than what was displayed. I decided to open the videos directory because the files sizes would explain the large data difference.

Video Directories in OneDrive - 2019
OneDrive Video Directory (2019)

As we can see, the folder directories named after certain events were still present. However, the item count on the folder icons were all zero’d. I was in shock and my jaw was still scraping on the wooden floor. I opened the directories and yes, sure enough, all my videos were completely gone. I decided to look into the pictures directory.

Picture Directories in OneDrive - 2019
Pictures Directory OneDrive (2019)

Great, I actually had some of my photos remaining. However, all the directories labelled after certain holidays, or particular family events had all gone. I was left with photos of items that had recently been sold online, and my camera roll folder which was linked to my mobile phone. I decided to even check my Farming Simulator 2017 directory and sure enough, this is what I was presented with:

Directories in OneDrive - 2019
Farming Simulator 2017 Directory OneDrive (2019)

There was the folder but again, I was presented with a zero item balance. This clearly did not help pick my jaw up from the wooden floor. I was shocked, I felt broken, and my body sunk into my office chair as I puzzled my mind to try understand what could have happened to gigs upon gigs of family memories. However, there was surely light at the end of this dark tunnel? I could contact Microsoft OneDrive Support and they could sort the issue out for me. After all, the service marketing and advertising was all about backups, and restore features. Your data is safe etc so hey, I hit up the OneDrive Support Team and see what they can do for me.

What did OneDrive Team have to say?

It’s important to note at this stage, I had already gone into my OneDrive options and attempted to restore my OneDrive back to a previous state. This had not been successful. Hence, my jaw hitting the flaw and remaining there all the time.

I initially submitted a support request on the 22nd July 2019 via the OneDrive online platform. The support ticket number was 1457892. I received an initial automated response telling me my ticket had been received and a member of staff would be contacting me. I thought… great. They’ll look into this error and be able to restore my files. All will be well considering this was advertised as a service to help protect your data in the event of data loss.

My first response was from their first line of support called the, ‘OneDrive Team’. I was sent what I was expecting… instructions on how to restore my items using the recycle bin feature, or the ability to restore individual files I was looking for. However, if I was not successful, I was asked to provide the following:

  • The names of the files or folders you are trying to find. If the files are photos/videos, tell us the date you took them.
  • Approximately when you last accessed the files, and on which device (e.g. PC, Android, iPhone)
  • Consent that we can search your file history for you

I thought, hell, how was I going to remember all the files names, what devices were used, when those files were created…! I did try my best to mention photos, videos, months and years taken, potential devices, and I even told them what the events were. After all, those directories were still available on my OneDrive account to browse. Just no files inside were present to view. I received another response asking me for the exact same information. It was at this point I notified them of the false ransomware detection displayed on OneDrive.

False Ransomware Detection Issues – OneDrive

As I was trying many different options to restore my lost files from OneDrive cloud service, I noticed OneDrive Restore was displaying a detection in Ransomware. This was strange because I had not experienced any such event, and still have not to this day (thank goodness). Here is a screenshot of the false positive restore option presented to me:

False Ransomware Detection Issues - Microsoft OneDrive 2019
False Ransomware Detection – OneDrive (2019)

As presented above, there was clearly a detection of ransomware on the OneDrive account on the exact date I had recognised issues. This was a little concerning. However, no such event had happened. My local systems were secure, nothing had happened to my hard drive, none of my other systems experienced any issues. This was a little shocking to say the least. However, the response OneDrive Team gave me was even more concerning:

OneDrive Team - Ransomware Response (2019)
OneDrive Team – Ransomware Response (2019)

As you can clearly see, the OneDrive Team could not see what I was seeing on my cloud storage account. Of course, I sent them the screenshot I had already taken prior to messaging them. It was this point I was greated with a response stating my issues are going to be sent on for further investigation and they’ll get back to me soon.

Further Investigations - OneDrive Team (2019)
Further Investigations – OneDrive Team (2019)

All further communications from OneDrive Team stopped and I was contacted by the OneDrive Escalations Support.

What did OneDrive Escalations Support have to say?

I thought, great stuff; a more experienced person will be allocated to my issue and provide me with a viable solution for regaining access to over 70GB of personal data. However, this is the response I got:

OneDrive Escalations Support (2019)
OneDrive Escalations Support (2019)

The best chance of recovering my data was using another device to access my files. Let’s not forget OneDrive syncs all devices so they all appear the same. It also states to make sure to check the devices recycle bin. Well, that was not much help. If I delete an item from one system, it certainly won’t appear on another system’s recycle bin. What were they thinking? However, it does mention that a sync deletion request was made when my subscription had expired on the 21st July 2019 using the Windows 10 Sync Client. This makes sense considering I was having sync issues and that’s what started this whole process. It also shows my files were deleted from the online OneDrive recycle bin on the 22nd July 2019. Again, I confirmed this because OneDrive told me to. I clicked a link the Sync Client gave me and I thought nothing of it. However, what I did not know was if I removed those files from the online recycle bin, there would be no option to restore them later down the line. I clearly had no idea what files had been added to the recycle bin. I assumed the same events from 2018 were happening and thought nothing of it at the time. It’s time to ask OneDrive some specific questions…

OneDrive Escalations Support - Specific Questions (2019)
OneDrive Escalations Support – Specific Questions (2019)

As you can see, I asked three quite specific questions:

  • Why do all the directories still exist but not one single video appears in any of them?
  • Why can’t I roll back using the restore feature which should restore everything to a specific date?
  • Why does my account state ‘ransomware detected’ (which you have not addressed in your reply), yet I have suffered no such event?

The responses were simple… the files under each directory had been deleted by the Windows 10 Sync Client, the recycle bin had been deleted, and Microsoft were suffering from a bug regarding mass deletion and labelling of ransomware. This really didn’t help my situation and my jaw began to hit the wooden floor once again.

After this, I received a email telling me I had not responded in time and they were closing my support ticket. I immediately responded telling them this issue has not been resolved. My files are still not being restored. Here is my issue with OneDrive Restore Feature:

Serious Issue With OneDrive Restore

I have an option to restore a single file using the recycle bin feature. This is just like Windows 10 functionality (if enabled). I would then be able to restore a particular file. However, this was a case for mass restoration of more than 70GB of personal data. From the screenshots provided above, you can see my total storage now only displayed just under 70GB not 150GB on my Premium OneDrive account. Surely, if I go into my advanced options for OneDrive online, I can use the Restore OneDrive to a previous state feature. However, I tried this feature for the day before the issues happened. Still no luck. I tried restoring the OneDrive data up to a week before and still no luck. My files never returned. I then tried 29 days prior to the issues taking place and whilst my jaw was still sagging on the wooden floor, my files never returned. Only the directories to which those files once existed. You might be thinking… you have a local copy on your hard drive so what’s all the fuss about?

OneDrive automatically syncs the contents of your OneDrive to the Cloud. This means, due to the sync errors detailed above, my local hard drive was matched to the Cloud Storage status. This meant all my files were automatically removed from my local hard drive. Microsoft OneDrive Support confirmed those files had been deleted and as such, we would expect my local copy to then be updated to reflect the online cloud storage. However, I was still confused why the Restore feature was not bringing my files back even up to 29 days prior to the sync events taking place. I decided to ask exactly how the recycle bin feature and the restore feature worked within OneDrive:

OneDrive Escalations Support - Feature Functionality (2019)
OneDrive Escalations Support – Feature Functionality (2019)

As you can see, I was told the Time Restore works with version history and the recycle bin to restore to a specific point operated up to 30 days. However, this response still did not answer my initial questions asking why the version history for Time Restore was not bringing back my files even up to 29 days prior to the sync events. I needed to get more specific with my question because they were clearly not providing any clarity for me:

  • Can you confirm the Time Restore feature is reliant upon my files remaining within the recycle bin?
  • Restore using version history suggests a snapshot of my OneDrive is taken each day going back 30 days. Can you confirm how the version history works?

As you can see, I was then greeted by another employee of OneDrive Escalations Support team. It was confirmed that the OneDrive Restore using version history was still reliant upon your files remaining within the recycle bin. This is the reason my files were not returning. I had followed the instructions of the Windows OneDrive Sync Client to empty my recycle bin due to sync errors. By doing this, I removed any chance of ever getting those files back. I was not aware of this, and I have read all the terms and conditions. I was looking for clues stating the complete OneDrive Restore feature was reliant upon you keeping any previous versions, history, or different files in your recycle bin.

Why on earth did the Windows 10 Client ask me to remove them? I should have been presented with a notice that clearly states, if you empty your recycle bin online, you will remove the ability to restore your files from within the recycle bin, but also the ability to use the complete OneDrive Restore options within your advanced settings.

What do the terms for Cloud Storage say?

As you can probably tell, it looks like the way OneDrive works is, every feature is reliant upon their virtual recycle bin online. If you remove anything from within your recycle bin, even the complete restore feature will not function. I decided to have a look at the terms and conditions of service for OneDrive. I needed to see if these concepts were mentioned.

2. Your Content. Many of our Services allow you to store or share Your Content or receive material from others. We don’t claim ownership of Your Content. Your Content remains Your Content and you are responsible for it.

a. When you share Your Content with other people, you expressly agree that anyone you’ve shared Your Content with may, for free and worldwide, use, save, record, reproduce, broadcast, transmit, share, display, communicate (and on HealthVault delete) Your Content. If you do not want others to have that ability, do not use the Services to share Your Content. You represent and warrant that for the duration of these Terms you have (and will have) all the rights necessary for Your Content that is uploaded, stored or shared on or through the Services and that the collection, use and retention of Your Content through the Services won’t violate any law or rights of others. We strongly advise you to make regular back-up copies of Your Content. Microsoft can’t be held responsible for Your Content or the material others upload, store or share using our Services.

Microsoft Services Agreement (2019)

As you can see I have highlighted in italics and bold format, only you are responsible for your data (content). Microsoft can’t be held responsible for any of your content you entrust with them using their Cloud Services. What is shocking is Microsoft actually advise us within the terms of service to make regular back-up copies. However, their services are advertised as back-ups, ransomware protection, off-site back-ups, drive failure back-ups and more. I feel we entrust our personal data files to those cloud service providers such as OneDrive without understanding the true risks involved.

I feel we entrust our personal data files to those cloud service providers such as OneDrive without understanding the true risks involved.

ThinkOgram (2019)

You will find by clicking the links provided below, all cloud services operate in the exact same fashion… you and only you are responsible for your data. If something goes wrong, the cloud service provider only has a responsiblity to maintain access to your data, not the storage or recovery of your data itself. Yes, Microsoft and all the other cloud service providers keep regular back-up copies but these are for internal use only. This means, you don’t have access to fully restore your data within your cloud service. This is certainly not the way cloud services are being advertised, and certainly not the common understanding how the general public and business owners understand them to function.

If you empty your recycle bin online, you will remove the ability to restore your files from within the recycle bin, but also the ability to use the complete OneDrive Restore options within your advanced settings.

ThinkOgram (2019)

Will I ever get my 70 Gigabytes of personal data back from OneDrive?

The support responses stopped after the final message displayed above. I realised especially after reading the full terms of service, I was never going to get any assistance from Microsoft to restore my family memories.

I could purchase software that will scan my hard drive for previous images of files because when you remove a file from your computer, sometimes it’s never truly deleted. However, my system in encrypted, and the data space is overwritten with random bytes to stop this from being available. Lets face it, when you delete a file, you expect it to be permanently gone. However, with cloud services whom market and advertise themselves as back-up solutions, you would expect to have the ability to restore your OneDrive to a previous state. I have now learnt the hard way, losing all my videos, not just a couple, but every single video I ever had of myself, my family including kids, family holidays, days out, birthdays, Christmas events, school events, and anything else I ever had memories of. I also lost gigabyte upon gigabyte of family photos from all those same events. Those treasures would seem to gone forever now. Yet, I was paying for a service that advertised itself as a leading back-up solution. Yet, a back-up restore was not possible.

Here is what I have done within two days of this event happening:

  • I have removed Office 365 Subscription from all my systems.
  • I have removed OneDrive from all my systems.
  • I have purchased multiple licenses for Office 2019 lifetime licenses.
  • I uninstalled OneDrive yet again after it was reinstated by Windows 10???
  • I have purchased an Intel i5 Quad Core, 16GB RAM, server unit.
  • I installed FreeNAS (Network Attached Storage) operating system.
  • I have installed an SSD (Solid State Drive) to operate the system.
  • I have installed 12TB (12 thousand gigabytes of space) onto the server.

As you can probably tell, I have certainly lost all trust in cloud services to secure my data. Having spent some money (I built the whole thing for less than £200) on an internal storage solution, I now have a full back-up system running. I have all my data organised into seperate Windows shares, and each share has a snapshot taken every hour of every day. Each internal drive is also mirrored onto a second drive that protects against drive failure. This means, my data is backed up using a server, having each Windows share operating its own recycle bin feature, each share having 24 snapshots each day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, and all that data is then backed up on seperate drives.

Here is what I have lost not using OneDrive Cloud Storage:

An off-site backup of all my data. Yes, all my data is currently stored in one location no matter how many copies I have, and how many snapshots, or mirrored drives are installed. However, I can still access all my files from any device I allow on my local network.

If I really wanted an off-site solution, my server using FreeNAS is capable of syncing my shares to an off-site server too. That means, I could have another server running at a family member’s house and my files would sync across the net providing off-site back-up functionality. All my files are encrypted on both my local machine, and the storage server.

Are Cloud Services really a backup service?

Since the cloud service is totally controlled by the provider such as Microsoft for OneDrive, very little control is transferred over to the owner of the data… you and me. As such, you become totally reliant upon the features on offer from the provider. As I have recently found out, I do not have enough control of my data and clearly, I don’t have access to the right functionality to call it a back-up service.

Yes. To a certain extent I would agree OneDrive could be a back-up treated as off-site. However, it’s a sync service. This means, what ever happens on your local drive or vice versa, will happen on the cloud storage. It’s not truly a back-up for that reason. A true back-up is having copies of your data stored in different locations. A snapshot should represent a full copy of your data in a current state. Not just merely replicate what happens on one drive to the next. In my opinion, Cloud Service providers are distorting the truth about whom is responsible for your data. They are creating a myth about how secure and restorable your data actually is using cloud services.

Reading their terms of service, we can clearly see only you have responsiblity for your data. You can not hold the cloud service provider responsible for any data loss, and the providers even advise you to make seperate back-up copies of all your data stored within the cloud.

We are clearly putting our trust in a provider who has terms of service stating you can’t hold them responsible. Even if you try, you’ve actually agreed to only be able to seek damages up to the total value of the services purchased, or worse, the cost of a single month’s worth of service. This means, cloud storage providers can suffer glitches as demonstrated within this article, and bare little responsiblity for your content… your family memories, your children growing up, holidays, school events, first birthdays and more being lost.

We are clearly putting our trust in Cloud Service providers who clearly have Terms of Service stating you can’t hold them responsible for any data loss.

ThinkOgram (2019)

The cloud service providers want your money, but none of the data storage responsibilities that go with it.

Does OneDrive really offer a true Restore Feature?

This is the next important question… we have considered if OneDrive can be treated as a true back-up for your data. In my opinion, the answer is no. What about if you can truly restore all your data?

An article back on March 27th, 2018 tried alerting us to the lack of controls one would require to call it a true restore feature. Andy Rouse, who is a senior product manager for a company called Spanning, and controls product strategy and execution for Office 365 back-up solutions, clearly states Microsoft Back-Up Policies do not guarantee a complete and speedy restore of lost data.

Data loss is often a major concern for Office 365 customers because Microsoft’s backup policies cannot guarantee a complete and speedy restore of lost data. Even when data is retrievable, the process is long and complicated, and retention policies vary for each application included in the cloud platform.

Applications like OneDrive and SharePoint power much of the collaboration capabilities within Office 365. However, that collaboration can be put in jeopardy when user error, hacking, sync issues, or malicious insiders cause data loss. Both apps leverage a primary and secondary recycle bin with 93-day retention periods, but these can also be emptied at any time which means that data is unretrievable.

Andy Rouse – Spanning – 2018

I wish I had read his article when it was released. I would have put in place better solutions myself instead of trusting in the Cloud Service providers to correctly protect my data. He clearly mentions syncing issues could cause data to be lost through no fault of the user. I have clearly experienced this issue first hand. I have provided an interesting yet very informative quote from the article below. Have a read:

Microsoft also recently released a OneDrive restore feature, which enables end users to roll back all of their files to a previous point in time within 30 days, but there are major limitations. Most importantly, it adds no new protection – if the data has been deleted, it cannot be restored.

Andy Rouse – Spanning – 2018

Well… I must say, I think he clearly new more than I did about these new cloud services. I am well versed in technology and have a complex understanding of many aspects. However, this simple piece of information alluded me to a point where over 70 Gigabytes worth of personal data files were permanently deleted.

Backup and retension policies for all major cloud service providers are no substitute for a complete back-up and restore solution.

ThinkOgram (2019)

What is shocking when I completed further reading on the topic is, how many articles and web sites refer to cloud services as the ultimate back-up process for your data.

The Cloud Storage Myth

According to a web site called AccessPay, you get more control of your data compared to holding your data locally, and cloud services will do a better job of backing up your data than you could do locally.

AccessPay - Incorrect Information  about Cloud Storage services (March 2019)
AccessPay – Incorrect Information (March 2019)

Clearly, there is a misconception about the reality of how protected your personal data is within the cloud storage services. Remember, even the service providers themselves advise to make regular back-ups of your data you upload to the cloud. They clearly don’t want any responsibility for it.

According to Timothy Morrow from the Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute:

The federal government recently made cloud-adoption a central tenet of its IT modernisation strategy. An organisation that adopts cloud technologies and/or chooses cloud service providers (CSP)s and services or applications without becoming fully informed of the risks involved exposes itself to a myriad of commercial, financial, technical, legal, and compliance risks.

Timothy Morrow – Carnegie Mellon University

This is clearly an issue that is coming to the front of conversations recently. More organisations and personal users are starting to ask questions about how much control and responsibility the cloud service provider has over your data.

Only on July 16th, 2019 did Kinga Odziemek state the following:

The truth is, nearly everyone uses cloud services and usually they aren’t even aware of it.

It’s important to remember that more often than not, the user needs to maintain their own cloud data. While the data center should perform essential maintenance on its hardware, it is usually the responsibility of the data’s owner to maintain their own cloud environment.

Because their applications, data, and virtual machines are stored off premises, it is understandable that a user may assume it is all being maintained for them, but the cloud provider often won’t do.

Kinga Odziemek (July 2019)

I also came across a company whom are advising all their clients to:

Stop using a [local] file server and get your business [documents and customer data] into Microsoft’s secure cloud [service].

Protected Trust – Cloud Security Services (2019)

This is a shock to hear a Cloud Security provider advising their clients to remove local server hardware and seperate back-ups from their locations, and become solely reliant upon Microsoft Cloud Services. Here is what they did with their own business servers:

Don’t worry, we destroyed the hard drives first!

In fact, we threw out an entire multi-floor data center full of servers. We couldn’t do that 5 years ago.

Protected Trust – Cloud Security Services (2019)

Wow… so this is a professional company whom is supposed to be advising clients about data security in the cloud and even they do not fully understand the limitations of Cloud Storage service providers. This professional company has even gone against the terms of service advice directly from the storage provider. Advising clients to not have local data solutions and put all your faith into the cloud service providers. How on earth is the average user supposed to understand the limitations of cloud services if a professional company specialising in Cloud Data Security can’t get it right?

How on earth is the average user supposed to understand the limitations of cloud services if a professional company specialising in Cloud Data Security can’t get it right?

ThinkOgram (2019)

Back in 2017, a company called Pivot Technology Solutions recognised a myth relating to cloud storage and what they termed, ‘Shared Responsibility‘.

Cloud service providers may be responsible for the security of their data center infrastructure, but customers are responsible for the data that’s stored there.

John Flores, Vice President of Marketing, Pivot Technology Solutions (2017)

He also mentions some research which was carried out asking businesses whom they think is responsible for their data in the cloud:

A recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne suggests that few organisations understand this shared responsibility model. In fact, 71 percent of respondents said it’s the service provider’s responsibility to protect the data that’s stored in the cloud.

John Flores, Vice President of Marketing, Pivot Technology Solutions (2017)

This would surely prove there is indeed a myth around how protected your data is when using Cloud Services such as OneDrive. 71 percent believed it was the service provider whom has responsibility for their data. The service provider according to their own terms of service wipe their hands of any responsibility for your data.

The Cloud Service providers clearly have a responsibility to make this very clear, the user is responsible for their data and not hide it away in their terms of service agreements. It should be presented is large bold font type clearly stating:

Cloud Service providers don’t accept any responsibility for your uploaded data. Use cloud services at your own risk. Your data could be at risk, lost, or permanently deleted if you don’t keep regular, local, full back-up copies.

ThinkOgram (2019)

How do you protect your personal data?

If you really want to use cloud services because it provides you with ease of access to your data across multiple devices, please be sure to back-up your data on a regular basis locally.

This can be accomplished using a second hard drive in your chosen system to mirror the contents of your main drive, you could use free software to back-up your files on a daily basis, you could invest in a server unit and go the extra mile with regular back-ups, snapshots, mirrored drives, and even implement off-site redundancies.

A simple solution would be to change the way you think about Cloud Services in general. Grab yourself a USB drive and make a conscious effort to back-up your local files on a regular basis. For most people, a weekly back-up should be ample enough intervals. However, for the more concerned, consider back-ups daily by investing in both free or commercial solutions using in-house hardware.

Search for NAS solutions, FreeNAS operating system, and software based solutions. Windows 10 has built-in back-up options which can be performed on a regular basis to external hard drives.

Stop relying on Cloud Service providers and take back control of your personal data files. They clearly don’t want the responsibility that we entrust upon them.

ThinkOgram (2019)


In my opinion, if cloud service providers are not wanting to take responsibility for your data, you should not be giving them it. I have deleted all instances of OneDrive from all my systems, have stopped using a subscription based Office 365 solution for back-up functionality, and have invested in a local Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution running FreeNAS.

We need to clear up and clarify the myth about whom actually has responsibility for your data in the cloud. Like the Terms of Service clearly state, it’s your data and your responsibility. The cloud service providers just want your money and provide very little in terms of data control, management, and restore functionality.

The cloud service providers just want your money and provide very little in terms of data control, management, and restore functionality.

ThinkOgram (2019)

In my opinion, if cloud service providers are not wanting to take responsibility for your data, you should not be giving them it.

ThinkOgram (2019)

Stay safe, stay in control, and take back ownership of your personal data. I went from having 150GB of data to less than 70GB in a few short minutes. I have no option to recover my heart-felt memories. However, you still have a chance to secure your data’s future.

Further Reading

Beal, V., n.d. What is Cloud Service? Webopedia Definition [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 8.6.19).

Pritchett, A., 2018. 6 Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage for Business. Compare the Cloud. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

8 Reasons to Fear Cloud Computing [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Odziemek, K., n.d. 11 Myths About Cloud Storage: Debunked [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

12 Risks, Threats, & Vulnerabilities in Moving to the Cloud [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

15 Myths & Misconceptions about Cloud Technology, 2019. . AccessPay. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Cloud-to-Cloud SaaS Backup: G Suite, Office 365 and Salesforce [WWW Document], n.d. . Spanning. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Dropbox – Terms [WWW Document], n.d. . Dropbox. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Google Drive Terms of Service [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Wilson, S., n.d. How OneDrive Makes Ransomware Obsolete [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Legal – iCloud – Apple [WWW Document], n.d. . Apple Legal. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Warren, T., 2018. Microsoft adds ransomware protection and file restore to OneDrive cloud storage [WWW Document]. The Verge. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Microsoft Services Agreement [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Microsoft Services Agreement Upcoming Changes [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 8.5.19).

Office 365 Backup Policies and How to Fully Protect Your Data, 2018. . Spanning. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Privacy Policy – Privacy & Terms – Google [WWW Document], n.d. URL (accessed 8.6.19).

Risks & Disadvantages of Cloud Computing – Cloud Academy Blog, 2018. . Cloud Academy. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Wilson, S., n.d. Throw out your file server, we did [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Beal, V., n.d. What is Cloud Service? Webopedia Definition [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 8.6.19).

Whittaker, Z., n.d. Who owns your files on Google Drive? [WWW Document]. CNET. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

Who’s Responsible for the Security of Data in the Cloud?, 2017. . Pivot Technology Solutions. URL (accessed 7.23.19).

By The Editor

With an adventurous desire to change; this blogosphere aims to evolve discussions by penetrating deeply into the thought of knowledge, an attempt to stimulate and translate cognitive points in question… The goal of ThinkOgram is to contribute substance to a chosen subject matter by sharing an opinion to create a different viewpoint so others can comment, reflect, and discuss in further depths the topics raised. We like to call it, 'A Profound Cognitive Movement'.