One word: Omnidrive. Go ahead, click on their link. Yup, the site's down. That's bad news if you're one of those self-employed folks or businesses that has been using Omnidrive as a virtual storage shed for your data.

Cloud computing, for those unfamliar with the term, is one of those tech buzzwords du jour that represents the trend towards storing data or software applications not on an individual PC or network, but instead onto a "cloud" or network of virtual servers.

Sound to good to be true? Maybe it is. Omnidrive is (or was) one such cloud computing service, well reviewed and a media darling among the technorati

Of the thirteen companies that we researched for this post, three really stand out. Australia-based OmniDrive (unfunded but not for long) is the clear leader in features. and Streamload are also very good choices.

- TechCrunch, January 31st, 2007

What a difference a year makes. Omnidrive should perhaps change its name to Ominiousdrive.

Here's what we know today; which apparantly is information that changes day-to-day:

- The site is down.

- The official forum is down.

- The CEO, Nick Cubrilovic's blog - also down.

What can we make of this trail of broken links?

Other bad signs that the company is defunct.

- The company CTO left abruptly in December amidst rumors of fraud.

- The unofficial blog is up and running with a long thread of anecdotal tales of woe from customers (former customers) who are getting no response and no access to their data they once entrusted to Omnidrive. And this was supposed to be a backup solution for these poor folks!

I'll keep an eye on this one. In the meantime, some tips for safe cloud computing.

- Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Omnidrive is a nightmare, but hardly an indictment on the whole trend. (I have a feeling indictments will be strictly reserved for Omnidrive employees).

- Be careful who and where you entrust your data. Stick with the big names that aren't likely to go out of business anytime soon and can't afford to lose their reputation over one startup division of their company. Can you say Google! Or Mozy, now owned by EMC. Or Nirvanix, that recently got a big influx of cash from Intel. Or xDrive, which is owned by AOL. You get my drift.

- Backup your backup. Data storage is cheap. It's not the craziest idea in the world to backup in two places, even if one of those places is the old-fashioned way - tapes, discs, etc.