The Dangers of Relying on Online Tools and Services

Filed as Features, Multimedia on February 22, 2008 8:19 pm

Bloggers aren’t exactly shy when it comes to adapting online tools and services, it’s one of the strengths of the blogosphere I’d say. Social networking and things like that are quickly integrated, and put to good use (i.e. pushing traffic to your projects), as they come along and fill a void. We all know there’s a bunch of online video services that wants to be the next YouTube, some of them even letting you share a buck on their ad sales going with your uploaded clip. Very nice of them. And then there’s Flickr and friends, giving you the opportunity to not worry about image bandwidth.

Why host yourself when you can upload to an online service, and embed? Why should you take the bandwidth costs from your hot viral video?

That’s a good question. Maybe you shouldn’t, it all depends on what your long-term goals are. If you can live with the fact that YouTube undergoes maintenance (and your video is offline), or Flickr hiccups (slow or non-loading images), then it might be a great way to save money, as well as perhaps attracting some new visitors to your site using these channels.

However, there are projects where an hour of downtime on a video, for example, could mean that you will lose earnings, goodwill, and viewers.

Before I commit to using online tools, I always consider these things:

  • Can I afford to do this on my own, not using an online tool, or am I forced to go with one?
  • What happens if the tool in question goes offline for a while? Will that make my site look bad, and what damage would that do me?
  • What guarantees do the tool offer me, in terms of availability? Can they compensate me should they fail to live up to them, and is their compensation worth the damage I might’ve taken?
  • What happens if the tool goes bankrupt, closes down? What plans do I have to replace it, and how much work will that render me?
  • If I go with a certain tool, what advantages does it have compared to its competitors? Can I gain more readers using Tool A instead of Tool B, or maybe make some money?
  • How reliable is the tool’s service? Is it widely known? Does it work in every web browser, or have a bad reputation?
  • If I’m embedding video, is the video player any good? What pros and cons are there to going with a certain video tool, as compared to another? Will my readers understand how to use this player intuitively?

Personally, I’m very cautious using online tools, and when I do I always make sure I have local copies of everything. It would be a lot of work, but I can always replace any online tool, such as YouTube or Flickr, with something else. If all else fails, I’ll just host it myself.

What are your thoughts on using online tools for blog content?

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  1. By Ming posted on February 23, 2008 at 2:35 am
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    I only use tools that have the lowest ch ance of going bust.

    flickr and blogger

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  2. By Gary posted on February 23, 2008 at 9:36 am
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    I don’t trust leaving my files on someone else’s server, especially Google with their thirst for info on everyone.

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  3. By PChere posted on February 23, 2008 at 10:20 am
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    I only use popular tools like Youtube and Flickr, which will have good uptime and bandwidth than most startups. But your points is very valid and makes us think about hosting these on our own server.

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  4. By Michael Clark posted on February 25, 2008 at 9:42 am
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    Do you mind sharing information about your site’s visitors with third parties? What is a legal issue comes up, are those services going to stand up and protect your users?

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