By Jessy Troy
Jessy Troy is a technology editor at TekSocial, the gadget and app review blog. You can see her tweet as @JessyTroy
Back when I was a kid…
Back when I was a kid, there was nothing more annoying than getting stuck in a game. There was no internet to turn to, no way to easily learn the secrets of a level. Some were designed to be as random as possible as well, with Easter eggs that you couldn’t even begin to imagine. You would either have to come across them through sheer coincidence, spend endless hours searching every inch of the game, or buy a Nintendo Power that had the game info.
Why do I bring this up? Because in the past this was the only real way I had ever come across technology rage. Now, as an adult, I experience it in a different way, but the frustration is still the same. I am talking, of course, about discontinued online tools and services.
This is an issue that hits close to home with me. Google discontinued their RSS reader, something I used literally every day. Never again will I be able to retreat to Google Reader’s sweet embrace to procrastinate on work I really need to get done. I won’t ever stare in shock, mouth agape as I realize that despite having been there an hour before, I already have 400 unread posts waiting for me. Those days are gone… adios, Google Reader.
You can protect yourself from this type of anguish. Services go out of date all the time on the web, and some you really love could still be axed to make way for new projects. Here are some tips for anyone relying on an online tool or service, especially a free one.
Remember To Backup Your Junk
One of the worst parts about a service going out of date is realizing it too late and losing everything you kept through it. I actually had this happen with some of the early-day online storage programs, one time where I lost everything because I didn’t bother to backup to any other source. After all, the storage site was meant to be a backup itself! Learn from my mistakes, backup your junk on a regular basis, or you will be crying about more than the loss of a cool online gizmo.
Keep Up To Date On Updates
Admit it, you think update notifications are the most boring thing in the world. It can be easy to just ignore development updates which don’t start with “a new version”. But it’s important that you know what’s coming. Not just because of discontinuation, but also because software updates can cause bugs, or require a new download or eliminate a feature. Keep ahead of changes by subscribing to whatever social media platform they use.
Know What Alternatives To Turn To
When Pinerly first went down I was devastated. At least until I found out it was set to be relaunched under the name Reachli. But that didn’t help me during that time in between, and while I eventually ended up finding Pin League (now also dicontinued..) it was a hassle. I also lost more time than I had intended by not being prepared. Knowing alternatives you can use instead will help you move fast just in case something happens.
Drop Some Cash
This is a problem that almost always happens to free programs. Sure, there are some great free tools out there. But with no profit generated, there’s no immediate incentive to keep an app going and updated. While I’ll always support independent developers, when it comes to more important work, you might want to rely on a paid service. These not only tend to have more features, but they are less likely to be discontinued.
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