A word about using Jungle Disk

This has been on my mind for a while, since I had a brush with it. I’ve been using Jungle Disk cloud-based backup since about 2007, and I’ve been pretty satisfied with it. I had to take my laptop “into the shop” early this year, and I used another laptop while mine was being repaired. I had the thought of getting a few things I was working on from my cloud backup, so I tried setting up the Jungle Disk client. I was dismayed to learn that I couldn’t get access to my backed up files, because I didn’t have my Amazon S3 Access Key. I remember going through this before, and being able to recover my key from Amazon’s cloud service, after giving Amazon my sign-in credentials. I couldn’t find the option for it this time. After doing some research online, I found out they stopped offering that. So, if you don’t have your access key, and you want your data back, you are SOL. You can’t get any of it back. Period, even if you give Amazon’s cloud services your correct sign-on credentials. I also read stories from very disappointed customers who had a computer crash, didn’t have their key, and had no means to recover their data from the backup they had been paying for for years. This is an issue that Jungle Disk should’ve notified customers about a while ago. It’s disconcerting that they haven’t done so, but since I know about it now, and my situation was not catastrophic, it’s not enough to make me want to stop using it. The price can’t be beat, but this is a case where you get what you pay for as well.

My advice: Write down–on a piece of paper, or in some digital note that you know is secure and recoverable if something bad happens to your device–your Amazon S3 Access Key. Do. It. NOW! You can find it by bringing up Jungle Disk’s Activity Monitor, and then going to its Desktop Configuration screen. Look under Application Settings, and then Jungle Disk Account information. It’s a 20-character, alphanumeric code. Once you have it, you’re good to go.

Edit 12/23/2015: I forgot to mention that to re-establish a connection with your backup account, you also need what’s called a Secret Key. You set this up when you first set up Jungle Disk. You should keep this with your S3 Access Key. From my research, though, it seems the most essential thing for re-establishing the connection with your backup account is keeping a copy of your S3 Access Key. The Secret Key is important, but you can generate a new one, if you don’t know what it is. Amazon no longer reveals your Secret Key. Where’s My Secret Access Key? talks about this. It sounds relatively painless to generate a new one, so I assume you don’t lose access to your backup files by doing this. Amazon’s system limits you to two generated Secret Keys “at a time.” You can generate more than two, but you have to go through a step of deleting one of the old ones first, if you reach this limit. The article explains how to do that.

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