I had two incidents last week that, from opposite directions, pointed out to me the importance of being able to export my data from the applications I am using.
It all started when I got robbed off my phone in Lisbon about ten days ago. As I got back to Athens, I got a new phone and started restoring my applications and data from my latest backup. One application that I was not able to restore its data is Signal. I lost all my messages. Some of them were unread.
This whole phone situation dragged my week’s schedule back quite a bit. Now, on Friday morning I needed to get on a plane again for Copenhagen and send a quote to a client with deadline that day’s afternoon. The limits are quite tight here.
So, what I did in that second situation on the contrary was downloading the draft from Google Docs in
.docx format and then just finish the work with Pages. I was able not just to download my data, but also work on them using another application, through an open source interoperable format. What a great and settling experience. There was no data loss threat or even any sort of vendor lock in. Not to mention that I was able to complete my work in time. I could ask for nothing more.
I know there can be tens of explanations on why Signal or other applications do not allow exporting and importing of users’ data. But, I know also that this can be implemented technically, if they make this a priority.
Users’ data belong to… the users. Give users their data.