Where’s My Data — Is it Safe?

As I was going through support posts, I noticed the occasional question being raised about how and where application data is stored, reliability concerns in offline mode, etc. With answers scattered about through various posts, making it difficult to see the whole picture, I thought I’d summarized here, FAQ style, and later put this information into our knowledge-base.

Where are your servers?

Nirvana currently runs on a cluster of servers at Rackspace/Slicehost.

Is my data encrypted?

Yes. Nirvana transmits data over secure https connections only.

Is my data being backed up?

For sure. We run an incremental database backup every 10 minutes: all of your projects, tasks, contacts, etc. We also perform a full database backup every hour. And we take a snapshot of our servers in their entirety every 24 hours.  That’s every byte of application code, all databases, server logs — everything.

Can I get a backup copy of my data?

Of course. In addition to our own system backups, we provide several data export options. While the original Nirvana only exports data as plaintext, the new Nirvana 2 version lets you export your data as CSV (comma-separated-values, think Excel), XML, or JSON.

How do Nirvana 1 and Nirvana 2 differ?

Nirvana 1 — the original (N1)

With Nirvana 1 what you see on your screen is what’s on the servers. As you add, update, and move tasks and projects, those changes are posted to our servers and then your browser reflects the changes as they are sent back to you. This is the traditional request-response pattern found throughout the web. No data is stored on your computer beyond what you currently see on your screen. If your computer crashes, no worries, everything is still on Nirvana’s servers.  Just reboot and re-login.

Nirvana 2 — the new (N2)

Nirvana 2 uses a relatively new standard call local-storage — a mechanism for storing web application data in your browser. As you add, update, and move tasks and projects, those changes are written to your browser’s local-storage first, and then pushed up to Nirvana’s servers every few seconds, assuming you have an internet connection. If not, Nirvana 2 will let you keep working, but in the background will periodically attempt to find a connection, and when it does will push your changes up to the servers at that time. This is the magic that allows you to use Nirvana 2 even if your internet connection is flakey or temporarily awol.

This means that to run N2, your web browser must have local-storage capability! Lack of, or a poorly implemented, version of local-storage is one of the primary reasons that some older browsers are not supported by N2.

Since every piece of data in Nirvana is time-stamped, synchronizing multiple devices is supported. Each data item is compared to make sure it’s the latest version before being updated.

A key thing you should be aware of regarding what Nirvana 2 does with local-storage — if you simply close/quit your browser, your data stays in your browser. This is naturally what you’d want, so that you can still get at your Nirvana 2 data on your laptop without a connection, on a plane for instance. If you want to clear your local-storage data, be sure to logout — definitely what you want to do if you’re accessing Nirvana (or any other online service!) from a shared/public computer.

So what happens if my computer crashes running Nirvana 2? To an extent, the same as Nirvana 1… just reboot and re-login. If you were working offline for an extended period of time, and your hard drive is completely toast (worst case scenario, and you’ll probably be crying about a whole slew of other things you lost at that point), Nirvana will still have all of your data on our servers up to the last time you were connected to the internet.

What happens if Nirvana’s servers crash?

Well, given all of the redundancies we have in place that’s rather unlikely. But since you ask — your exposure to a catastrophic event at Nirvana is the 10 minute window of the incremental database backup if you’re running Nirvana 1. If you’re running Nirvana 2, you’ve got your local storage to bridge the gap. That’s right — as soon as Nirvana would come back online, your browser would automatically reconnect, sync up any changes to our servers, and everything would be restored to where it should be — no data loss at all!

 

Comments

6 Comments on Where’s My Data — Is it Safe?

  1. Travis Kreikemeier on Sat, 12th Feb 2011 12:41 am
  2. Will current users data in Nirvana 2 preview release be kept in place after Nirvana 2 goes public final.

  3. Elbert on Sat, 12th Feb 2011 7:42 am
  4. @Travis – Absolutely.

  5. Simon on Mon, 14th Feb 2011 6:33 am
  6. Are your mobile version numbers consistent with the above? For example, if I see “mobile version 2.1 (build 836)” does this refer to N2?

  7. David on Mon, 14th Feb 2011 7:17 am
  8. Hi Simon,

    The answer is, unless you’ve migrated to N2, you’re on N1 — regardless of the version of the mobile app. Build 836 is an N1 version.

    You’ll see something like ‘N2 build 123′ or ‘nirvana 2 build 123′ depending on your device type, if you’re on Nirvana 2

  9. Elbert on Mon, 14th Feb 2011 4:29 pm
  10. @Simon – Thanks for pointing out an inconsistency in our naming. Mobile 2.1 is actually “Nirvana 1″ … I’ll see about renaming it v1.21 to avoid confusion.

    The back story: fans on the forums (help.nirvanahq.com) took to calling the new offline capable Nirvana “N2″ – and we just went with it.

    Sorry for the confusion…

  11. Adnan on Thu, 10th Mar 2011 1:33 pm
  12. What is the status of N2 ?
    Is it still in beta ?
    If yes, what is the time line for the release ?

    We are using N1 in the office and we are really happy with it. : )

    Thans to you guys one more time …

Nirvana is task management software that's 100% web-based. Based upon the well known Getting Things Done® (GTD®) method of keeping organized, it is fast, easy, available from anywhere.

Spend more time doing your tasks, not managing them. Sign up now!

What is GTD®?

GTD® rests on the principle that a person needs to move tasks out of the mind by recording them externally. That way, the mind is freed from the job of remembering everything that needs to be done, and can concentrate on actually performing those tasks.

Read more about GTD® on David Allen's website »