Ain’t got the Knowhow

A black Iveco Eurocargo truck with the Knowhow logo of a black button with rings in rainbow colours in circles around it, with the words "Knowhow, the service available at Curry's PC World".I was listening to the BBC’s You and Yours programme and heard a feature on ransomware (malware that encrypts your files and then demands money for the key to decrypt it), and having data stored in the Cloud (in this case, Knowhow Cloud, run by the Curry’s/PC World group) corrupted by said malware (which is possible as cloud drives are often accessible directly from the desktop as if it were a drive on your computer). The aggrieved customer believed that he was buying the Cloud storage with a back-up, so that his (and his customers’) data could be restored if this sort of thing happened. However, restoring from Knowhow’s backups wasn’t that easy.

Apparently, you have to individually go through the backed-up files on Knowhow’s server using their web portal and restore each one, which if you have lost thousands of files would be a long-drawn-out and laborious process. But it shouldn’t be. Every programmer uses a version control system which can restore any file, or an entire group of files, to their state at a particular time when they were ‘committed’, i.e. a save or set of saves was recorded. It records changes, not a string of different versions, so as to keep storage overheads down. Apple’s Time Machine backups work on the same principle. Setting up a repository with some of these systems is just a matter of one or two commands, though automating regular, secure backups is rather less simple.

What on earth is a major company like Knowhow doing offering a ‘backup’ solution that requires the customer to manually restore single files when software is available for free, used on major projects such as the Linux kernel and Mozilla browser, among many other things, that will restore whole directories (folders) to a specified point in time with one command? It’s pathetic. (When I bought my laptop, they insisted on sitting me down to get me to buy their cloud storage, despite my having access to two cloud storage drives already, only one of which I use. And they’re free.)

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