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New Service Offers Tweet Back-up For Free

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Newcomer BackupMy.net, a year-old Austin-based startup, began offering free backup of Twitter messages on its affiliate, BackupMyTweets.com back in February 2009

It is now possible to back up information you have saved in cloud services — such as email and Twitter dispatches — in the cloud itself.

BackupMy.net, a year-old Austin-based startup, began offering free backup of Twitter messages on BackupMyTweets.com back in February 2009 and now claims to be storing an average of nearly 2 million “tweets” daily, CEO and founder Josh Baer told eWEEK.

“Think about it: More and more of what you do now is in the cloud, and more and more of what you’re going to be doing will be in the cloud,” Baer told eWEEK. “You can back up what you have on your PC, but you don’t have a backup of most of the stuff you have in the cloud.”

Baer is a self-described “serial entrepreneur” who started his first application service provider (ASP) company, an online email marketing company, in 1999. He and a friend, Damon Cali, comprise the staff at BackupMy.net now, but they expect to be expanding as their services work their way into the online culture.

“Our first product to launch was BackupMyMail, which backs up Gmail, Hotmail, IMAP and POP accounts (with more coming),” Baer said. “We then launched BackupMyTweets, which is obviously a Twitter backup system. We’re working on more, including BackupMyBlog, BackupMyPics, and several others. All of our products will be available to users via a single, simple dashboard.

“BackupMyPics could be used for Flickr and Picasa, and maybe even Facebook. All of our products are web applications built on cloud infrastructure.”

Why use a cloud backup for data stored in ostensibly safe cloud havens, such as Google, Amazon or Flickr?

The likelihood of a service like Google losing email is pretty low, Baer admitted.

“But it is plausible that they could suspend use of my [Gmail] account because of suspected abuse or something, even if I didn’t do anythng; that happens to people. Somebody could get my access information and delete my email or pictures. Or maybe I just accidentally delete a lot of stuff,” Baer said.

So there are a lot of good reasons to back up email, photos, “tweets” and other documents that are stored someplace other than your own desktop, laptop or handheld device, Baer said.

“BackupMyMail is a simple, automatic, system to backup your online email account. There is no software to install or configure — just tell us what accounts to back up and we’ll handle the rest,” Baer said.

“You’ll get daily snapshots of your account that you can download if the unthinkable happens, or if you just delete an important message by accident. BackupMyMail uses open standards so that you maintain control of your data.”

How about the business model? How will the company make money?

“We see a premium-based business model working here,” Baer said. “With BackupMyTweets.com we believe there is a premium product there. Right now you can pay $2.95 a year (£1.80), or tweet about us, and you get use of it for free. That’s the entry-level product; that only backs up the things that you typed, your tweets.

“The premium version, which we are building now and have been getting great feedback on from thousands of users, will do things like back up your favorites, all the tweets on your timeline that you’re watching, and your follower list.”

There also seems to be a market for saving search phrases, Baer said.

“For example, if you run a conference and you want to collect all the tweets about your conference, we could provide that,” Baer said.

Pricing is still to be determined on the premium Twitter-related services. For $20 per year, BackupMyMail.com will back up an entire email account, Baer said.

Baer and Cali have built their entire company on outsourced cloud services to deliver just that: a series of cloud-based services.

“We didn’t want to have to invest in our own equipment, build servers — stuff that isn’t our core competency,” Baer said. “We just want to run our business model. Everything we do is virtual.”

Baer hosts his domains on GoogleApps. They store everything on Amazon S3 and use GoogleDocs for sharing and calendaring. The project management is done through BaseCamp. The company’s code is hosted on a subversion server. Even the bug tracking system, FogBugs, is in the cloud.

“I have another startup called OtherInBox, and we’ve never bought a single server,” Baer said. “All we have our laptops. We’re all built on Amazon Web services, everything’s in the cloud. We don’t own any servers; there’s nothing here [in the Austin office].”